Although we think of dogs as being carnivores, they are scavengers by nature. They’ll supplement their diet by eating other things, including fruit and vegetables. This is a good way for dogs to get additional vitamins and fiber in their diet. Plus, some fruit and vegetables make excellent low-calorie treats.
It’s recommended that veggies and fruits only ever make up around 10% of your dog’s daily diet. When it comes to introducing new foods to your pet, begin by only offering small amounts to verify there are no adverse reactions before offering more. Additionally, anytime you give a dog any vegetable from the safe list, ensure it’s not covered with any sauces or spices (these may contain items that are bad for your pup).
As with all things, moderation is important. Even fruit and vegetables that are pet-safe could cause a tummy upset if given in volume, so use them as occasional treats only rather than feeding in bulk. If you want to give your dog some tasty low-fat treats, you’ll need to know which ones are safe to feed and which ones aren’t – read on to learn more.
- Bell Pepper
- Brussels Sprouts
- Butternut Squash
- Cantaloupe and Watermelon
- Cooked Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato
- Avocado Pits
- Chili Peppers
- Corn on the Cob
- Raw Potatoes
- Spring Onions (Green Onions)
Fruits and Vegetables Safe For Dogs
Apples are an excellent crunchy snack for dogs to enjoy, and they provide a source of vitamin A and vitamin C. They are best served with the pips and seeds removed as these can be high in cyanide, which could be an issue if eaten in very large volumes.
You should also take great care with any rotten, fermenting apples in your garden, as these can contain high levels of ethanol (alcohol). Clear up any old apples in your yard and only give your dog nice crisp fresh ones.
Bananas provide a different type of texture that some dogs enjoy. It is quite filling and high in sugars, so only feed as an occasional treat. Bananas are a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Green unripe bananas can be less palatable than ripened ones, as they contain fewer sugars at this point and more starch. Avoid giving dogs the skin to eat as this can be hard to digest.
Bell peppers contain an excellent source of vitamin C for humans and guinea pigs. Dog’s, however, can produce their own vitamin C, so they don’t really need an external source but will still enjoy bell peppers for their crunch and taste. They are best served in slices, either raw or cooked. Green peppers are not as sweet as red and yellow peppers, so they may be less palatable, but all are perfectly safe to offer your dog.
A great little snack, blackberries are very safe to give to your dog. They may be found growing wild, although these varieties can be a bit less plump and juicy than store-bought ones. Like many other fruit and vegetables, blackberries are packed with antioxidants but are also high in natural sugars, so only feed in small amounts.
Blueberries are often referred to as a superfood as they are high in antioxidants (helpful as anti-inflammatories and against cancers, and maintaining good eye health in humans) and vitamins, as well as being relatively low in calories.
They are a great snack food, and many dogs seem to enjoy them. It’s worth noting that due to their small size, blueberries could be a choking hazard. So, be sure to monitor some smaller breeds of dogs while feeding blueberries.
Many dogs enjoy the fibrous texture of broccoli, and it is safe to feed it to them in small amounts, either cooked or raw. Amongst other things, it is high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. However, like many dark green vegetables, it also contains isothiocyanates which in high levels can irritate your dog’s stomach and intestines (guts). So make sure broccoli doesn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily rations to avoid any side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea.
The Brussels are a type of sprout that is safe to feed dogs in moderate amounts, but many dogs don’t enjoy the bitter flavor. This vegetable contains a good source of manganese (helps with protein digestion) and potassium (for nerve and muscle function). A large number of Brussels sprouts could cause bloating and gas. Plus, their small round size could make them a choking hazard, so make sure you cook them well or serve them chopped up.
Butternut squash is safe to feed dogs as long as the seeds and skin have been removed. The sweet orange flesh is best served cooked to make it more digestible. It contains a good source of vitamin A as well as being rich in carotenoids, which are good for eyesight.
All types of cabbage are safe for dogs to eat. It can be eaten raw, but cooking the cabbage makes it more digestible. Cooking also helps destroy a compound called thiocyanate, something that could suppress the function of your dog’s thyroid gland if eaten in high amounts. Cabbage is a good source of fiber and vitamins C and vitamin K (which aids in blood clotting).
Cantaloupe and Watermelon
Dogs often enjoy the refreshing taste of melon, and all varieties are fine for them to eat, including cantaloupe and watermelon. The high water content of this fruit helps with hydration, so it makes an excellent hot weather snack. It is best to remove the seeds and the rind before serving. The rind of the melon is very tough and not easy to digest, so it could cause problems if a dog ate it by accident.
Carrots make great crunchy treats, lots of dogs enjoy their flavor. They can be served raw or cooked, and even leafy green carrot tops are safe for dogs to eat. Carrots contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including beta carotene (which is converted to vitamin A by the body), vitamin K, and potassium. Carrots are quite high in natural sugars, so if given in large amounts could lead to weight gain.
This vegetable can be given safely to dogs and is a good low-calorie crunchy snack. Some dogs may not enjoy the taste of it, whereas others won’t mind it at all. Celery contains vitamin A (good for eyesight), vitamin K (good for blood clotting), and fiber, which is good for constipation.
While the flesh of cherries is ok for dogs to eat, you need to be careful with the pits. The pits (plus the stems and leaves) of cherries contain cyanide which can be toxic. Symptoms of poisoning include panting, breathing issues, bright red gums, weakness, shock, dilated pupils, and death.
One or two cherries are unlikely to be problematic. But, if your dog consumes a large number of unpitted cherries, there could be issues. While you could safely give your dog the flesh of a cherry, they are quite fiddly to prepare, and you probably shouldn’t be encouraging your dogs to eat them. He might get a taste for cherries and accidentally gets hold of some with the pits still inside one day.
Cooked potatoes can be safely fed to dogs (raw potatoes, however, are not). Potatoes are quite high in carbohydrates, so only feed now and then as a treat to avoid unwanted weight gain. It is also important to feed them unseasoned as too much salt, fats, and artificial flavorings could be unhealthy for your pet. Feed plain baked or boiled potatoes rather than deep-fried chips or fries. And, despite our photo above, avoid feeding sprouted potatoes; they contain high glycoalkaloids and solanine levels that are unsafe for dogs.
Cranberries are safe to feed to dogs, but you should be careful with the dried version as this is often sold in packs mixed with raisins which are very toxic to dogs. Always double-check exactly what you are feeding.
Cranberries are thought to help people with urinary tract infections, but there hasn’t been enough evidence to say whether there are any benefits for dogs in this way.
Dogs often enjoy the crunchy texture of cucumbers and find them quite refreshing and hydrating in warm weather. Cucumbers are perfectly safe to feed your dog. They are made predominantly of water, containing small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Both the skin and the flesh are safe to eat.
Green beans are a non-toxic vegetable that dogs can enjoy safely. They can be eaten raw or cooked, but avoid giving vegetables that have been canned in saltwater or that have been heavily seasoned. Green beans are an excellent course of fiber that can help with digestion, as well as vitamins A, C, and K.
Lettuce is safe to feed to dogs, but many won’t want to eat it as it can be a bit bland and doesn’t have the texture they tend to go for. Some types of lettuce leaves may not be that appetizing to dogs, but some will enjoy crunching on crisp iceberg lettuce. Lettuce has high water content and would provide some fiber, but not much in the way of nutrients unless it is a darker-colored or red-colored variety.
Mango makes a great snack for dogs, as long as the pit is removed and the skin has been peeled. The skin can be quite tough to digest, but it is the pit that is potentially dangerous. If swallowed, it could cause a blockage in your dog’s intestines (guts) – so dispose of it carefully. Mango is very sweet and soft when ripe, containing lots of fiber and vitamins. Your dog might enjoy this tropical treat.
The flesh of nectarines is perfectly safe to eat, but you should make sure your dog doesn’t swallow the pit. The pit is a source of cyanide, and it could cause a blockage if swallowed. Only give your dog the flesh only and dispose of the stone of this fruit carefully.
The orange flesh is safe for dogs to eat, though many won’t like the acidic citrus flavor. Remove the skin and the seeds before serving to your dog and only feed a couple of pieces at a time to avoid stomach upsets.
In people, oranges are a great source of vitamin C, but dogs can produce their own, so they don’t need external sources in the same way that we do. They may, however, benefit from some of the antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that oranges contain.
Dogs can eat papaya fruit safely as long as you remove the seeds and the skin. It is a good source of minerals like potassium, folate, and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. As with all fruits, you should feed it in sparingly as it does also contain natural sugars.
The flesh of peaches is very safe for dogs to eat, but make sure you remove the pit. If swallowed, this could cause an obstruction, which may need surgery to remove. If you have a peach tree try and stop your dog from eating the fruit in case he also gobbles up the pits by accident.
Pears are very safe for dogs to eat and make an occasional good treat. They are high in copper, vitamin K, Vitamin C, and fiber. You should try and remove the stem, core, and seeds before serving. If you have a pear tree try and stop your dog from eating excessive amounts of fallen pears, as this could cause digestive upset. Rotten and fermenting fruit also contains alcohol, so they should be avoided.
All types of pea are safe for dogs to eat, including garden peas, petit pois, and sugar snaps. Fresh or frozen peas are fine to feed but avoid canned peas, which may contain added salt. Peas are high in protein, and an antioxidant called lutein which is good for the heart, skin, and eyes.
Pineapple is safe for pets to eat. It is best given fresh as many canned varieties contain high amounts of sugar due to the syrup or juice surrounding the fruit. Avoid giving your dog the tough core or skin of the fruit. Some dogs may not like the taste of pineapple as it can be quite sharp, but this fruit is non-toxic to dogs.
You should avoid giving your dog raw pumpkin as it can be quite hard to digest. Instead, give your dog cooked or even canned pumpkin, as long as it isn’t seasoned. Pumpkin flesh is a good source of fiber and contains vitamins A, C, E, lycopene, and potassium. Pumpkin seeds are also safe to feed to dogs as long as they have been cleaned and roasted, without any salt or seasonings.
These nutritious little berries make a good snack and don’t need much in the way of preparation. They contain vitamin A, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and E and are also rich in minerals. The antioxidants in raspberries are also thought to help with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, allergies, and cancer.
Strawberries are safe for dogs to eat and they are another fruit that is very easy to serve, requiring little prep other than removing the stalks. Don’t feed strawberries that have been preserved in syrups or jellies, though, as these will be very high in sugar. Fresh or frozen strawberries are best to give your dog.
Always feed cooked sweet potato, as when fed raw, it is hard for dogs to digest and could cause an obstruction. Sweet potato is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but it is also quite a starchy carbohydrate.
It could lead to weight gain over time, so be particularly careful with feeding to dogs who are prone to diabetes. Sweet potato has become a popular ingredient in many commercial dog foods and treats.
Another non-toxic and safe-to-feed veggie for your dog is zucchini. It can be given raw or cooked but is often a little bland or even bitter in taste. However, many dogs enjoy the texture of zucchini, and it can make a great treat.
Fruits and Vegetables Unsafe For Dogs to Eat
While the actual flesh of the avocado is safe to eat, you need to stop your dog from getting anywhere near the pit. If they accidentally swallow this large seed, it will cause a blockage. The pit is undigestible, and due to its large size, it will not usually pass through. Obstructions can require abdominal surgery to correct, so avoid any risk by keeping your dog away from avocados.
The pit also contains persin, which can be toxic to some other species but not dogs. Another word of caution, while the flesh is non-toxic, it does contain high levels of fat which could trigger episodes of pancreatitis in susceptible dogs, plus it may lead to unwanted weight gain.
While chili peppers won’t be toxic to dogs, they contain capsaicin, something that is irritating to your dog’s stomach. They may start showing signs of tummy upset with vomiting and diarrhea. You should avoid feeding these to your dog or giving your dog any spicy leftovers that contain them. They won’t add much nutritionally to your pet and could cause a lot of discomfort.
A member of the allium family, chives are also a plants are all toxic to dogs. Chives can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition that affects the red blood cells causing them to become damaged. The broken red blood cells can no longer carry oxygen around the body, leading to weakness and other side effects such as an elevated heart rate, paleness of the gums, and collapse. Do not allow your dog to eat chives or feed them any leftovers that might contain them.
Corn on the Cob
While sweet corn itself is not toxic to dogs, many people eat it like corn on the cob, which could be an issue for dogs. If your dog eats corn on the cob, he could get a blockage in his stomach or intestines if he swallows it whole or a large chunk of it. Dogs with obstructions can have vomiting and lack of appetite and usually require surgery to correct. If your dog does eat corn on the cob, it is best to ring your vet.
Most dogs are not dainty eaters, and instead of nibbling the sweetcorn off, they will actually just eat the whole cob. It’s not worth the risk so avoid giving these to your dog and dispose of any corn on the cobs safely in the trash when attending BBQs or family events.
One of the allium family members, garlic can cause issues with your dog’s red blood cells. It creates oxidative damage, which causes these cells to become fragile and break. This means there are fewer red blood cells in your dog’s circulation leading to anemia. Your dog may take a few days to develop symptoms but may show signs of weakness, pale gums, and elevated heart rate.
Do not allow your dog to eat garlic bulbs, crushed or dried garlic. Leftovers and products like garlic bread could also be harmful to your pet, so they are best avoided.
Grapefruit flesh itself is not toxic to dogs but is extremely acidic, which may cause tummy upsets. However, the peel, seeds, and plant can cause issues such as long-term gastrointestinal problems and possibly photosensitive dermatitis. Grapefruit is best avoided as a treat for your dog because of the potential risks. Also, many dogs won’t actually like the taste of it, so try something tastier instead.
You should never give dogs grapes or raisins because of the risk associated with them. They can cause potentially fatal kidney failure. The exact mechanism of toxicity is unclear, so it is also hard to know exactly how many grapes will cause toxicity.
In some dogs, just a couple of grapes could cause problems, whereas, in other dogs, they can eat several with no issues at all. It is better not to take the risk and avoid giving grapes and raisins to your dog at all. If your pet accidentally ingests them, you must call a veterinarian ASAP. This also includes products that contain grapes, like fruit cakes, fruit bagels, grape juice, and grape jelly.
You should avoid giving your dog kale as it contains a couple of different compounds that can be harmful to dogs, including calcium oxalate and isothiocyanates. Calcium oxalate can cause issues, such as kidney and bladder stones, and isothiocyanates can cause gastrointestinal irritation leading to vomiting and diarrhea.
Thallium poisoning is also a rare possibility when eating kale due to the amounts of this heavy metal within the plant. While small quantities of kale may be ok, you should avoid giving too much of this vegetable because of the possible risks.
From the same allium family as garlic, leeks are another veggie that can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs. Oxidative damage occurs, destroying red blood cells (which carry oxygen around the body). With a reduced number of red blood cells, dogs become weak and pale. They may even collapse if severely anemic. You should avoid giving your dog leeks at all, either cooked or raw.
Dogs will usually avoid lemons because of their strong citrus flavor. However, some dogs will eat anything given half a chance. The flesh of lemons is non-toxic but eaten in large quantities could irritate a dog’s stomach and intestines.
The skin of the fruit, its seeds, and the tree on which it grows, however, contains some toxic compounds which could be harmful to dogs, including a phototoxic chemical called psoralens plus some essential oils. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and potential skin issues could occur. There are far tastier fruits to offer your dog, so avoid any risk and don’t give lemons.
As a fellow citrus fruit, limes fall into a similar category as lemons. Lime trees produce the phototoxic chemical psoralens, as well as some essential oils. You should avoid giving your dog limes, as the skin, pips, and the tree itself is toxic, even though the flesh is safe. There are better tasting and safer fruits to offer your dog than limes.
Although edible mushrooms that are safe for humans are usually fine for dogs to eat, many varieties of wild mushrooms could cause serious problems. Dogs could become confused if you give them mushrooms at home and may eat any they come across while out walking.
Mushroom poisoning symptoms vary considerably depending on the type of mushroom eaten. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, jaundice, abdominal pain, seizures, and coma. It is best to avoid mushrooms altogether to reduce the risk of any accidents.
Onions are toxic to dogs and must be avoided. They are another member of the allium family, which can cause dangerous hemolytic anemia. The onions cause oxidative damage to dogs’ red blood cells, causing them to become fragile and burst. A reduction in the number of healthy red blood cells in circulation can cause dogs to become pale, weak, and even collapse.
Symptoms can take a few days to develop, so even if your dog seems ok immediately after eating onions, you should still take them to a veterinarian. Toxicity occurs in both raw and cooked onions, so don’t give your dog any leftovers that could contain them.
Plums have the potential to be toxic to dogs. The seeds and pits can contain cyanide, and as many dogs aren’t particularly dainty eaters, there’s a risk they may consume these as well as the flesh.
The stems and leaves also contain cyanide, so if you have a plum tree in your garden, you may want to make sure your dog doesn’t chew at it or eat any dropped plums. Cyanide toxicity can cause bright red gums, large dilated pupils, and breathing difficulties.
Uncooked potatoes contain solanine, which is a glycoalkaloid poison. Potatoes that are green or have sprouted will contain particularly high amounts of solanine, as does the plant the potatoes grow from.
You should never give your dog raw potatoes or potato peelings, as it could cause a slow heart rate, digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea), and possible vision problems. Cooked potatoes, however, are ok to feed to dogs in small quantities, as long as they are unseasoned.
The rhubarb stems (the parts used in crumbles and pies) themselves are not likely to be toxic to dogs, but the rhubarb plant itself is toxic. The leaves contain soluble oxalate crystals, which can cause a severe drop in your dog’s calcium levels. Symptoms of toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremoring, and bloody urine. In some cases, kidney failure could occur, which is potentially fatal.
You shouldn’t give your dog the rhubarb stalks even though they are safe, as it could encourage your dog to scavenge and eat the whole rhubarb plant if they come across it in the garden or growing in the wild.
These small bulb-like plants are very closely related to onions. They also cause toxicity to dogs in the same way that onions do. They will cause damage to your dog’s red blood cells, regardless of whether they are eaten raw or cooked, so make sure you don’t feed them to your pet.
This vegetable is fine to eat in small quantities. However, when fed in high volumes, the large amounts of oxalic acid could prove harmful to your dog’s kidneys. So you shouldn’t feed this vegetable daily or in high volumes. As there are more safe vegetables to give, spinach is on our avoid list, but you could give it in small amounts if you wanted to.
Spring Onions (Green Onions)
Another allium family member, spring onions (otherwise known as green onions or scallions), are toxic to dogs. They have the same mechanism of action as onions and garlic, causing hemolytic anemia. The compounds contained in this vegetable cause oxidative damage to red blood cells causing them to burst. Dogs can become very unwell after eating spring onions, so avoid giving them.
Tomatoes could cause problems in dogs. The ripened red fruit is usually safe, but green tomatoes and the plant itself contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid.
If eaten in very high volumes, this could potentially cause toxicity. This could cause digestive upset, lethargy, and weakness. Feeding tomatoes to your dog could encourage them to raid plants in your garden, which could mean they accidentally ingest unripe ones and plant material.
A good quality commercial diet will be providing our dogs with all of the nutrition they require, so vegetables and fruits should just be seen as a little extra boost. Many of the nutrients humans rely on from plants, such as vitamin C, dogs don’t actually require in the same way.
The list in our article gives you a whole array of safe fruit and vegetables that you can try with your dog, but be prepared for your dog to turn his nose up at some of them. Some dogs love blueberries, and others hate them, but it is fun working out which ones they enjoy.
You should consider consulting a veterinarian, especially if your dog has individual dietary requirements such as diabetes or food allergies and sensitivities, in case feeding them extra snacks triggers any issues.
And lastly, don’t forget, if your dog consumes any of the toxic vegetables on our list, then you must call your veterinarian immediately as your dog could require urgent treatment.
July 22, 2022 at 7:21 pm
Such an interesting read. I like how not only do you tell what are good and bad for your dog, but why they are good and bad.
Very informative and something that is useful for new and old dog owners.