I would like to get my dog on a healthier diet. Is it safe to introduce fruit and vegetables into her diet?
Getting Healthy in The Heights
Dear Getting Healthy,
In the wild, dogs are omnivores — meaning they eat both meat and plant material. If you look at the ingredients in your dog’s food, you’ll find meat, vegetables and possibly grains. When you’re shopping for treats to give your dog, instead of reaching directly for the box of processed dog cookies, consider reaching into your refrigerator instead and offering him something healthy, fresh and delicious.
Here are a few fruits and veggies that are safe and healthy to feed your dog:
Apples: Apples are an excellent source of vitamins and fiber for your pooch. Be sure to remove the core first, though, as apple seeds contain cyanide.
Blueberries: Known as a “superfood” due to their prevalence of antioxidants, blueberries make a delicious treat that’s fun for Fido to eat!
Cucumbers: They are great for dogs who are overweight because they are very low in carbohydrates and have lots of water. My dog goes absolutely bonkers for cucumber!
Watermelons: Full of moisture and fiber, watermelon is a great treat to help cool off a hot dog. Be sure to cut away the rind first and remove seeds before letting your dog indulge.
Brussels sprouts: Sure, you’ve probably been sneaking the family dog your Brussels sprouts under the dining table for decades, but who knew that these little cabbages were so good for your pet? Brussels sprouts have tons of vitamins and nutrients, but be careful not to overfeed them to your dog…unless you don’t mind wearing a gas mask to bed!
Carrots: They are about the best veggie treat you can give your dog. Many dogs LOVE them and they’re low in calories and high in vitamins. They are also great for teething puppies, since they really work those chompers! (Pro tip: Stick a whole carrot in the freezer for several hours, then give to a teething puppy. The frozen carrot helps to soothe inflamed gums as well as provide a bit of chewing/stimulation time.)
Peas: Fresh peas (not canned peas, please) are a great treat to throw in with your dog’s food. Full of vitamins and nutrients, these tiny veggies pack a nutritional punch!
Here are some fruits and veggies that you should NEVER feed your dog:
Grapes: The fruit and all of its incarnations — raisins, wine, etc. — are extremely toxic and can lead to acute kidney failure in dogs.
Avocados: Wanting to pass the chips and guacamole to Fido during the big game? Please don’t. Avocados contain persin, a toxin that can cause extreme intestinal distress in dogs. It’s not worth it, believe me.
Onions: Onions, leeks and chives all contain allium, which is poisonous to all pets — cats, especially. Allium toxicity can cause red blood cells to rupture as well as intense intestinal distress in dogs.
When looking for new ways to incorporate healthy foods into our diets, fruits and veggies seem like a no-brainer. Our pets can also benefit from eating less processed foods, and fruits and veggies can add some interest and fun into their diet as well. So, the next time you’re chopping up veggies for a salad, try tossing a cucumber in the air and see if Fido shows an interest!
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