There’s a trend toward feeding human foods to dogs. We see all manner of wet foods, organic mixtures, perishable bags of dog food, and other products made with foods that we humans eat, flavored here and there to be more appealing to our furry friends.
It’s an exciting thing because many of us have been suspicious of kibble for a while now. Still, kibble products approved by the FDA do provide a “complete and balanced” diet for our dogs. That means dogs can live relatively healthy lives eating kibble alone because all of nutrients they need are included.
So, unless you’re a canine nutritionist and you have the free time to meticulously plan your dog’s meals, we recommend that you still incorporate kibble into your normal feeding schedule. That way, you know your beloved pal is getting all of their dietary essentials.
While kibble provides a “complete and balanced,” it still might not have everything your pooch needs in order to thrive. A wonderful diet can ward off disease, reinforce cognitive ability, spike energy, boost mood, and more.
Those are the things we can access when we explore supplements for our canines’ diets. Vegetables are a great place to start.
Vegetables have more vitamins and nutrients than any of the isolate supplement products you’re likely to find anywhere else. Dogs can’t eat all of the vegetables we do, however.
That’s why it’s important to go with options that have been studied and approved. The following is a list of the best vegetables dogs can eat as well as a few ideas on incorporating them into your feeding schedule.
So, what veggies can dogs eat?
1. (Light) Broccoli
Key Nutrients: Vitamin C, Calcium, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Fiber, Protein
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet. It’s known to help prevent against disease in humans and it's stuffed with vitamin C, calcium, vitamin K, magnesium, fiber, and protein.
Throw a few small amounts of broccoli into your dogs new veggie mix, but don’t make it the key ingredient. Broccoli includes compounds called isothiocyanates that can cause stomach pain in dogs.
Monitor their behavior and digestion process for the first week or so. If your dog digests broccoli well and you continue feeding it to them, benefits could include:
- Improved digestion
- Healthy brain function
- Increased bone density
Tips for Feeding Your Dog Broccoli
It's important that broccoli doesn't make up any more than 5 to 10 percent of your dog's diet.
Also, note that your dog might not be used to processing raw vegetables. They’ll have an easier time digesting these new vegetables if they’re cooked. Simply steam or boil your broccoli for a few minutes before incorporating it into your dog’s food.
Finally, do not season the broccoli or any of the other vegetables on this list. The items in the list (including broccoli) are curated with dog safety in mind. All of these vegetables have shown to be healthy for dogs, but many of the spices and seasonings humans typically pair with vegetables may not be safe.
Again, spices and seasonings may be toxic to dogs.
Key Nutrients: Beta Carotene, Fiber, Protein, Antioxidants, Vitamins B6, A, B, K1, Potassium
Carrots are an excellent option for your pups for numerous reasons. For one, they’re a crunchy snack for dogs find interesting and enjoyable to eat.
Another great thing about carrots is that you can feed them to dogs without cooking them. They can even be frozen when they reach your dog’s bowl and that could even make them a little more enjoyable for your friend to chew.
Again, it’s probably unwise to load your dog with too many carrots over a long period of time. This would be problematic for human nutrition, and the same is true for your dog.
Make sure that carrots don’t make up more than 5 or 10 percent of the calories your dog eats on any given day. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re using carrots as healthy dog treats.
These are excellent treats for your dog as they’re nutritional and pups love them.
Tips for Feeding Your Dog Carrots
Make sure to chop up the carrots before you feed them to your dog. These are firm, fibrous chunks of organic material which makes them very real choking hazards.
So long as you chop the carrots finely enough, your pup will chew away happily without issue.
If you’re worried about your dog’s ability to chew and swallow carrots, there are plenty of options to work with. First, try steaming or boiling the carrots until they’re nice and soft. You can be the judge on when they’re soft enough.
The longer you steam or boil, the softer they’ll be. You can also make a carrot puree if you’re worried about smaller dogs having trouble swallowing.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Key Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, B6, B5, E, Manganese, Potassium, Beta Carotene
Sweet potatoes and dogs are sort of a match made in heaven. While they’re not equipped with every nutrient your dog needs, they certainly include many of them.
You'll notice there’s a whole lot of overlap. Plus, sweet potatoes don’t have anything dangerous to dogs so they can be a key component of a healthy canine diet. Sweet potatoes are commonly included in big-brand dog foods for this reason.
Note: White potatoes aren’t necessarily dangerous or damaging to your pup, but they can cause blood sugar spikes and they aren’t as nutritious as sweet potatoes. If you’re going to choose one, we suggest sweet potatoes.
Tips for Feeding Your Dog Sweet Potatoes
It’s not a great idea to throw a full sweet potato your dog’s way and leave them to figure it out.
Rather, the best idea is to finely chop them up, boil them, and make them as easy to manage as you can. The smaller the chunks, the better. The softer, the better.
Boiling sweet potatoes will make them much easier to chew and digest, particularly if your dog isn’t used to digesting vegetables in general.
Key Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, K, B6, Folate, Copper, Phosphorous, Potassium
Zucchini is another wonderful vegetable for dogs, although you should use it in moderation. You don’t have to be as careful as you are with, say, broccoli, but it’s important that zucchini isn’t the main aspect of your dog’s diet.
In moderation, zucchinis are a great source of B vitamins, fibers, vitamin A, potassium, antioxidants, and more. Plus, they’re a crunchy, easily digestible option for your dog.
The water and fiber contained in this vegetable could help your dog with digestion, fight against constipation, and even improve your pup’s gut biome. You can leave the skin on. It might be best to steam, boil, puree, or bake zucchinis into little dog treats.
Tips for Feeding Zucchini to Your Dog
Zucchini is pretty soft, chewable, and digestible as it is. Still, it’s important to cut it up for your pooch before they dig in.
Just chop and serve. You can boil or mash the zucchini down if your dog prefers things that way. Softening or mashing zucchini (and all new vegetables) is a good idea if you’re starting your dog on a new diet with numerous unfamiliar items.
It takes some time to get the digestive system used to working with these new raw organic materials, especially after a lifetime of digesting kibble alone
5. Plain Green Beans
Key Nutrients: Vitamins C, A, K, B6, E, Niacin, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous
By "plain", we mean unseasoned. You’re free to boil, bake, cook, or puree the beans however you like.
Just make sure they’re natural and unfettered with additional ingredients. Do not feed your dog beans from the can as they may be spiked with seasonings, preservatives, and excessive amounts of salt.
The best bet is to buy natural beans from the grocery store and cut them up, boiling or steaming them as you see fit before you feed them to your furry friend.
Green beans are high in fiber, which makes dogs (and humans) feel less hungry after eating only a few of them. That means they’re a great option if you’re trying to help your dog to lose weight.
Green beans are jammed with nutrients, too.
Tips for Feeding Green Beans to Your Dog
Chop up the green beans before feeding them to your dog. Boil or steam them as well, and make sure you don’t include any extra spices or seasonings.
You’ll also want to wash the beans to get rid of any toxins or contaminants they picked up on their way from the source to your door.
Bonus Vegetable: (Light) Kale
Kale is another vegetable like broccoli that contains isothiocyanates. That, in addition to the presence of some calcium oxalate, makes kale problematic in high amounts.
Ensure that kale doesn’t make up more than 5 to 10 percent of your dog’s diet. In reality, you should aim for it to make up fewer than 5 percent. All of the wonderful benefits of kale for humans exist partially because we’re able to digest and process a lot of it. Dogs don't have that luxury.
Dogs, too, can benefit greatly from a little kale in their diets, but only a little. Kale is stuffed with nutrients, and dogs can process them healthily in moderation.
A leaf or two on a regular basis is a great way to give your dog antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that could support their health. Just don’t overdo it with portion sizes!
Bonus Fruit: Blueberries!
Blueberries are safe and healthy for dogs to eat. They’re also stuffed with things like phytochemicals and dense vitamins known to protect health and ward off disease. Further, blueberries are famously loaded with antioxidants.
Studies show that improving your dog’s diet with antioxidants can fight off cognitive decline. Further, you won’t have to force your dog to scarf them down. They’ll love blueberries.
You can use blueberries as healthy treats and they’ll serve the same purpose as the less-healthy treats that could be stacking up in your cupboard.
Things to Consider as You Start Feeding
We should note that all of the options above have shown to be healthy in moderation for most dogs. That doesn't mean that every dog will react the exact same way.
Healthy dogs should be able to tolerate and benefit from the foods in the list above. If your dog has a particular health condition or a particularly fragile system, it's absolutely worth talking with your veterinarian about changing up the feeding process.
In many cases, they will have a direct and simple answer for you.
For those that start incorporating vegetables and notice there's a negative change in behavior, digestion, mood, or general health, you should head straight to your vet. While it's a great thing to make your dog's diet healthier, it's always best to defer to the professionals whenever you're in doubt.
Introduce Ingredients Slowly
One way to sift out foods that don't agree with your dog is to introduce ingredients one at a time. Start adding foods and give each one a few weeks before you introduce another.
That way, you'll know which ingredients are causing problems. If you start to notice a negative change of any kind, you can scrap that ingredient and move onto the next.
When you introduce everything at once, it's a lot harder to figure out where the problem is coming from.