It’s summertime and that means farmer’s markets, garden-fresh produce, and refreshing, sweet treats. Did you know you can share many of the same fruits and vegetables you enjoy with your pooch? Think about it: we tell ourselves to eat more fruits and vegetables and we encourage our children to eat more vegetables and less sugar-filled candy, so why shouldn’t our fur babies also enjoy nature’s bounty of goodness?
Whether you make your dog’s meals from scratch, are looking for new and healthier treats for her or just want to supplement Spot’s diet with some low-fat, vitamin- and mineral-packed choices, adding fruit and veggies is an easy way to rev up your dog’s usual meals and treats.
Just like with children, the sooner you introduce produce into your dog’s diet, the more likely he will be to eat it and enjoy it. Besides being a less picky eater, your best buddy will build a stronger immune system, have fewer weight issues and maintain that puppy-like energy needed for long walks and chasing squirrels.
1. Plan Before You Change Your Dog’s Diet
Introducing new foods into your dog’s diet may lead to digestive changes. Introduce only one new fruit or vegetable at a time and observe your pooch for any responses to the change. Keep in mind that every dog is different so please check with your veterinarian to see which ingredients are suitable for your dog.
2. Know What NOT to Feed Your Dog
Some plant foods are toxic to dogs, so make yourself familiar with the foods you need to avoid and keep Patches away from. The following is a general list of foods dogs should avoid. Every list I read seems to name different foods and has conflicting data. I also know people who say they do feed their dogs certain items from this list with no problems but again, check with your dog’s health professional to be sure your fur baby is eating properly and safely. Foods to generally avoid include: onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, rhubarb, wild mushrooms, grapes, raisins, avocado, citrus fruits, nuts (especially macadamia nuts), as well as the pits, seeds, and rinds of fruits.
3. Fruits for Fido
Fruits give your dog lots of vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, phytonutrients, and fiber. It may take a bit of effort to get your pooch to eat fruit so keep trying until you find some she likes. Some dogs like the crunch of apples while others like the sweet wetness of watermelon. Always give your pups small pieces and thin slices to make sure they don’t choke. Fruits acceptable for your dog include: apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, honeydew, mangoes, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
4. We All Bark for Veggies
Adding vegetables to Lady’s lunch will give her healthy antioxidants, lots of soluble fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. I make sure that Benny’s dinner always includes some dark, leafy greens as well as something orange – whether that is pumpkin, sweet potatoes or carrots – to ensure he gets cancer-fighting and immune-supporting beta-carotenes. Vegetables your dog can eat include asparagus, beets, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce, parsnips, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, and zucchini.
5. How to Feed Fruits and Veggies to Your Dog
While we might love our spinach and zucchini sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic and spices, that recipe should not be on Scruffy’s menu. Fruits can be eaten raw but remember to remove the pits, seeds, rinds, and inedible skins. Cut them into small pieces or thin slices to prevent choking. Vegetables should be steamed, boiled, or baked so they are easier to digest. Again, cut the veggies into small pieces or you might mash or puree them. This also makes it easier to incorporate the veggies into your dog’s usual food. You can also add fruits and veggies into homemade treats that will have your dog excitedly wagging her tail.
Your pup pal needs the healthiest diet to maintain all the energy that fetching balls and catching Frisbees requires. Make sure his diet is well-rounded and includes lots of healthy produce. Of course, don’t forget lots of belly rubs and ear scratches. Woof!
For more in-depth information about feeding and caring for your dog, check out these great articles: Share a Meal With Your Dog! Homemade Dog Food Nutrition (With a Recipe)!, 8 Fruits and Vegetables to Keep Your Dog Happy n’ Healthy, and Good Reasons to Include Vegetables in Your Dog’s Diet.
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