By Maneka Gandhi
My dog loves to eat peas and carrots. Is it good for him?
Vegetables are good for dogs, and a dog’s diet should contact at least 25% vegetable matter. They provide nutrients, as well as offer a low-calorie addition to their diet.
When preparing vegetables for your dog make sure to cook them separately from your family meals. Dogs cannot consume most herbs, spices, and definitely should not have vegetables cooked in oils or garlic. A dog’s digestive tract does not have the ability to break down vegetables as we do, and as a result they may prefer pureed or cooked vegetables over whole or chopped.
Vegetables have been known to help alkalize the body. Certain organs, like the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, heart, and kidneys, function better in a more alkaline environment. Which is why too much acidity can contribute to inflammation, which is responsible for a lot of chronic diseases. A diet of heavy meats can cause too much acidity to build up, creating more than just digestive issues for your dog. The addition of vegetables can counteract all the acid build up and help keep the dog’s body healthy. Most vegetables are an excellent source of water. With so many dogs living in varying stages of dehydration, it is important that they can get water from sources other than their water bowl.
Vegetables contain a variety of healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help treat a variety of degenerative diseases.
Broccoli: Broccoli is often coined the “super food” for humans. Rich in vitamins, and containing vitamin C, Calcium, and Fibre, it’s a great additive to your dog’s diet. However, it can be toxic in large quantities, so give it as a treat. Broccoli stalks can be a choking hazard, especially in small dogs, so it is advised to cut broccoli into small chunks as well as cook it.
Spinach: Adding Spinach to your dog’s diet adds roughage, as well as needed antioxidants and iron. Spinach also contains high levels of the vitamin K, which helps maintain good bone health and growth.
Cabbage: Cabbage aids in digestion and improves the skin of your dog. If your dog has rough or dry skin, cabbage can help reduce skin irritation and promote healthy skin growth.
Green Beans: Green beans are a great source of fibre and can help your dogs lose weight by boosting their metabolism. Fresh green beans make a great treat in replacement of biscuits. You can also steam them and add them to dry dog food.
Carrots: Carrots are great for cleaning the teeth and gums of your dog. Carrots also help prevent tartar build up. For those dogs that hate their teeth brushed, try feeding them carrot sticks to help aid in the cleaning. Carrots are a great replacement treat over biscuits or other dog bones. They contain vitamins B, C, D, E, and K and can be fed either raw or cooked. However, most dogs prefer them raw if they eat them at all.
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes can be a great addition to your dog’s diet, as they are low calorie. However, sweet potatoes are full of starches and should be limited.
Squash: Squash contains potassium and can be beneficial in reducing heart failure in dogs. Cooked or pureed squash provides added nutrients and significant amounts of Vitamin A and Calcium which helps to keep a dog’s kidney’s healthy.
Cucumber Slices: Due to the high potassium content in cucumbers they are good for teeth and bone growth. Cucumbers can also promote healthy livers and kidneys when paired with carrots.
Potatoes: Plain baked potatoes are okay for your dog in small quantities. However, never feed your dog raw potatoes, or let them eat the peels, eyes, or other parts of the plants, as these parts of the potatoes can be harmful.
Bell Peppers (red or green): Bell peppers are a great source of Vitamin C and contain an excellent source of beta carotene which can prevent cancer and decrease the chances of cataracts and other eye aliments in your aging dog. Bell peppers are also known to prevent arthritis as your dog ages.
If you have a picky eater, you can start by putting peanut butter on certain vegetables to try and get them to eat and like vegetables. Other options include mixing vegetables with plain noodles, or simply mixing it into their dry dog food. Once your dogs have started eating a few vegetables, odds are they will eat most any other vegetable you give them.
It’s important to remember that dogs do not have the ability to break down plant cell walls, and their vegetables should be pureed or cooked before given to them. Pureed is better as it will keep the nutrients of the vegetables, unlike when you cook them. Chopping the veggies does not break up the cell walls enough for your dog’s digestive system to break the food apart. Adding raw vegetables has a varied and wide range of health benefits. Vegetables will result in healthier teeth, gums, and improved breath. The right kinds of vegetables can boost your dog’s immune system and help create a healthier and silkier coat. Knowing what vegetables to feed your dog can greatly improve your dog’s quality of life.