Sharing food with our pups is common, but not all human foods are safe for canines. One big area of question is vegetables. Owners often wonder, “What vegetables can dogs eat safely?” While it seems like veggies are a healthy choice, not all are as beneficial for dogs as humans.
Knowing what foods are safe and beneficial is essential to keeping your pup in good health. While we generally look at dogs as carnivores, they are, in fact, omnivores and will eat both plants and animals. Dogs are survivalists and will scavenge if they must in order to survive. Plants like fruits and vegetables can add fiber, vitamins, minerals, and even plant protein.
Keep in mind that plant materials like fruits and vegetables should only make up about 10% of a canine’s daily food intake. All dogs should eat a well-balanced diet made up of high-quality kibble and wet food, along with any added fruits and veggies. Let’s get into the details about what vegetables dogs can eat safely.
Benefits Of Vegetables For Dogs
Vegetables offer a good amount of benefits to canine nutrition. They are full of vitamins, including A, B6, C, and K. They also contain calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and protein, among other nutrients and minerals. Vegetables help alkalize the body, helping balance the acid from a meat-heavy diet. They also contain phytonutrients, which can help with inflammation, gut health, healthy liver, and even fight cancer.
Antioxidants are also found in veggies, including beta-carotene and lutein. These work to fight free radicals, which are damaging elements that contribute to illness, aging, and disease.
Vegetables are full of fiber, which aids in healthy digestion. It also helps pups feel full and provides extra energy. They can provide a boost to the immune system, aiding in digestion and promoting good vision. Furthermore, they are low in fat and calories, making them an ideal treat for overweight pups.
The Vegetables Dogs Can Eat
There are several vegetables that dogs can safely eat. We discuss some of the top 15 choices, listed in alphabetical order.
Beets are not as common as some other veggies but are safe for dogs. Of course, they should only be fed in moderation. It is best to bake, boil, or steam them. Beets can be eaten raw but are harder for pups to digest. Beets are high in calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. Most of the time, beets are a safe, non-toxic veggie. However, some pups can be allergic to it. This is relatively rare, but it can happen. Others may have trouble digesting too much of it. Make sure to watch for any adverse reactions, including diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, stomach pain, discomfort, or excessive licking and itching.
Broccoli is safe for canines to eat. It is full of vitamins and fiber, as well as vitamins C and K. Broccoli can be served raw or cooked. Dogs like the crunch, which can boost the immune system and help with bone density. Broccoli, along with other leafy greens, contains something called isothiocyanates. In higher doses, these can cause gastric upset, discomfort, and farting. They can also become a choking hazard and possible bowel obstruction if not chewed enough.
Brussels sprouts are another safe veggie for canines to eat. They have high levels of antioxidants and are a healthy source of manganese, which helps digest protein. Be careful not to overdo it with these. They tend to cause gas and bloating. It is best to cook these thoroughly and cut them into bite-sized pieces to avoid choking hazards.
Cabbage, all colors, is safe for canines. It can be eaten cooked or raw, but raw cabbage is harder to digest. Both cabbage and Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous family but are not the same plant, contrary to widespread belief. Many people refer to Brussels as baby cabbages, and while related, that is not accurate. Like other members of the cruciferous family, these can be harder to digest, and it may cause your pup to have gas.
Carrots are a nutritious snack for dogs that can be eaten cooked or raw. Owners must make sure to cut these into bite-size bits to avoid any kind of choking. Raw carrots are hard in texture, and too large a piece can be quite dangerous. Carrots are extremely low calorie and low fat, plus many pups enjoy the taste and crunch. Feeding frozen carrots helps with dental health as they can scrape debris and plaque off the teeth. Because canines do not metabolize raw carrots, it is best to feed them cooked carrots. Lightly steaming is a suitable method that retains most of the nutrients and top-level flavor. Carrots are loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene. On top of that, they also contain a good amount of soluble fiber, which can help with loose stools.
Cauliflower can be a healthy, non-toxic addition to your dog’s diet. It’s safe both cooked and raw but likely easier to digest when lightly steamed or boiled. Cauliflower is low in calories and can add antioxidants and fiber, among other nutrients.
Celery is another low-calorie, crunchy vegetable that is safe for canines to eat. It contains fiber, several vitamins, and nutrients like folate, manganese, and potassium. Because it is so low in calories and has very little fat or cholesterol, this can be an excellent snack for pets when weight is a concern.
Corn, when correctly prepared, is safe for canines to eat. Some pups enjoy frozen corn kernels or those that have been steamed or lightly boiled. Canines should never be fed corn on the cob, as the cob is undigestible and a potential choking hazard. It can also cause serious internal obstruction. When feeding your dog corn, always observe them to ensure they do not choke on any kernels. Corn contains proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and highly digestible carbohydrates. While safe in minimal amounts, corn should not be added to a dog’s diet daily, nor should they eat substantial amounts at once.
Green beans are a nutritious and safe vegetable to feed your pup. As with all plant material, it is important to feed them in moderation, as the high fiber content can be hard to digest and cause stomach upset. Green beans contain fiber, folate, calcium, protein, iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, C, and K, among other nutrients.
Canines can safely eat peas often found in commercial dog foods. This is because peas are full of protein and fiber. They also contain other essential nutrients like iron and antioxidants. These aid digestion and boost overall health. Fresh peas, raw and cooked as long as they are taken out of the shells, are a tasty treat to add to your puppy’s food bowl.
Canines can eat cooked white potatoes, which offer a good dose of healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It is essential to keep in mind that potatoes contain something called solanine, which is dangerous to canines. Raw potatoes, in particular, are extremely high in solanine. It must be cooked out to remove. Too much solanine can cause respiratory issues, stomach and digestive upset, and heart trouble. It is found in raw skin, leaves, and the veggie itself.
For pups who like crunchy treats, a radish is another safe vegetable they can eat. We are referring to true radishes, not horseradish or wild radishes. Those are not true radishes. True radishes are high in calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. When eaten raw, their rough texture can help clean debris and plaque from a pup’s teeth. It also can help keep their breath smelling fresh. As with any other vegetable or root vegetable, only serve these to your pup in moderation and always cut them into appropriately sized pieces. Steer clear of black radishes, which have a potent, somewhat spicy flavor. Daikon or white radishes are a much better choice. Always make sure to remove the leaves.
Spinach is considered by many to be a superfood and is also safe for dogs to eat in small amounts. However, canines suffering from heart or kidney disease should avoid this leafy green as it’s high in sodium and oxalates. A small amount of spinach added to your pet’s bowl can bring extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also contains antioxidants that help boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and even aid in improving any cancer and some aging effects. Only feed your dog spinach in moderation, as oxalate overload is very serious. It can lead to bladder issues like kidney stones, damage, and disease. It is best to discuss feeding your dog spinach with your veterinarian before making this a regular addition to his bowl.
Sweet potato is a tasty, natural, and perfectly safe vegetable for canines to eat. It is very low in fat and contains essential vitamins like A, B6, and C. Tasty sweet potato is also full of the antioxidant beta carotene, which can help prevent disease, boost the immune system, and even fight cancer. Sweet potatoes are very high in fiber, aiding digestive function and health. In fact, sweet potatoes are often added to the canine diet to help with diarrhea and constipation, as they assist in forming healthy, regular bowel movements.
Squash is technically a fruit but is often referred to as a vegetable in the culinary world. Several kinds of squash, including pumpkin, are a tasty and beneficial addition to your pup’s food. Pumpkin is often used to treat mild stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation, as it helps regulate the digestive system. Squash is high in fiber, helping pups feel full for longer, so is an excellent choice for doggies on the chunky side. Of course, it’s best to discuss your puppy’s dietary needs, especially if he is obese or overweight, with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes. Squash should be steamed or roasted and cooked without any other added ingredients.
How To Feed Your Dog Vegetables Safely
While some vegetables are safe and beneficial to your dog’s overall nutrition, it’s always best to add them to your pup’s diet in moderation. Veggies should only be occasional treats, not everyday additions. Fresh, plain vegetables are best. They may be frozen, freshly picked, or purchased from the produce section. In most cases, canned vegetables have high additions of sodium and other additives. So, avoid these unless they are canned only in water.
Only ever feed your dog foods intended for canine consumption. Avoid human seasonings like salt, pepper, paprika, onion, garlic, hot peppers, and other spices. Many of these are harmful to dogs. Most veggies are easier to digest and safer when they are cooked. Some, like potatoes, should never be fed raw. Always research before adding a new vegetable or fruit to your puppy’s food bowl.
What Vegetables Are Not Safe For Dogs?
There are some vegetables that canines should never eat as they are toxic or have a potential choking hazard. Garlic, chives, leeks, onion, shallots, and raw potatoes should never be fed to canines. Green onions, leeks, and corn on the cob are to be avoided. Kale, a leafy green, may be beneficial in minimal amounts but is harmful if they overeat it. It contains calcium oxalate, which can lead to kidney issues, as well as elements that contribute to gastrointestinal irritation.
Choosing vegetables to give your dog as a treat is a far healthier choice than adding in human junk food like chips, beef jerky, or bites of your ham sandwich. While there are plenty of safe vegetables, all veggies should be fed to your dog under supervision and in moderation. Do your research and prepare them specifically for your dog to consume. Avoid any kind of dish that includes seasonings or added ingredients. Dogs should only ever be fed plain fresh veggies.
Veggies are a fun reward, a tasty carrot for doing a clever trick, or a bit of broccoli to add variety and crunch. Make sure to be diligent and only feed your safe veggies. Be sure to consult your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist if you are concerned that your dog is not eating enough or does not have a well-balanced diet. While fresh vegetables are a great treat, dogs should always be fed high-quality kibble or wet food. There are plenty of excellent fresh dog food options on the market, and owners have plenty of choices to offer their pups fresh, healthy nutrition.