Are Veggies Good For Dogs?
The simple answer is yes, however the amount may vary based on your dog's metabolism and their preference.
If you feed a raw or cooked diet, the general recommended amount should be somewhere between 15 - 30% veggies. If you feed kibble and other processed food, adding vegetables to your dog’s food is still important and beneficial at about 15- 20% of the total volume.
Most processed foods contain a considerable amount of veggies, however, they are highly processed and heated which makes them lose nutritional value.
Do I need to feed veggies every day?
The answer is no, as long as you give the recommended percentage over a longer period of time.
This allows for more flexibility; one day less, one day more, similar to what we humans do. Your dog’s diet doesn’t need to be consistent every day, as long as you maintain a certain structure.
Should I feed veggies and meat together or separately?
Most dogs prefer meat to veggies, so mixing them together will help if your dog is fussier about eating veggies. You can add your dog's veggies to ground meat or chunks of meat. To further entice your pup to eat their veggies, try pouring their daily dose of Omega-3 oil, such as FeelGood Omega, on top as this will add more flavour.
My dog Pax sometimes chooses to eat a bowl of veggies, raw or steamed, instead of eating his meat. I suspect it is because he instinctively knows what his body needs at that time.
Can I add fruit to my dog’s meals?
I recommend only giving small amounts of fruit, (less than 5%) because they would do the same in nature.
However, ideally, you should not feed high-sugar fruit (which includes most fruit) with your dog's protein meals. The reason is that protein takes longer to digest than fruit does, and if you feed fruit and protein together it may lead to undesirable fermentation and possibly even gas production.
There are some exceptions to the rule, such as blueberries and other low-sugar berries, however, you should try to stick to the following recommendations:
- Feed fruit at least 1 hour before feeding a protein meal, and wait for 3 hours before feeding fruit after a protein meal.
- Feed local, organic, and pesticide-free fruit whenever possible.
Why do some dogs hate eating veggies?
The truth is most of our dogs are like children, they love calorie-rich food and, if given a choice, some of them would skip vegetables altogether.
Also, when we look to nature, canines would mostly eat a bit of grass and the pre-digested intestinal contents of their prey, which taste differently to the veggies we feed (raw or steamed).
However, because it is unrealistic to serve our dogs a whole animal, and plant-based foods are a natural part of canine diet, adding veggies to their meals is essential to for maintaining good health and longevity.
If your dog doesn’t like larger vegetable chunks, try chopping them up in a food processor or Vitamix. Steaming may also make some veggies more palatable, for example broccoli, zucchini, and beets. Squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or yams are usually served cooked.
I encourage you to try different kinds of veggies to see what your dog enjoys most, and avoid giving only a few kinds of veggies repeatedly.
Remember that feeding a variety over a longer period of time is the key to a healthy, balanced diet.
Is it okay to juice the veggies?
The answer is yes, if you mix the juice and pulp back together after juicing, but I do not recommend giving just juice without the roughage and fibre.
What veggies can dogs eat?
Dogs can eat most vegetables with a few exceptions that I will also mention later in this article.
In nature, canines mostly eat greens that have been pre-digested in the gut of their prey, or they instinctively ingest fresh greens to cleanse the gut and detox the body. I have heard some people suggest that canines do not eat the contents of the gut, but based on what I have seen, they do!
Many dogs will eat the guts if given the opportunity, and my dog Pax proved this when he attempted to eat the guts of a deer while a hunter was gutting it.
Some dogs also eat the feces of herbivores to supplement their gut microbiome.
Dogs instinctively understand the nutritional and detoxing power of leafy greens, and this is why they also eat fresh grass.
Veggies in general are an important element of a healthy diet for dogs, but their nutritional content largely depends upon the quality of the soil they are grown in, and most soil is depleted of nutrients.
This is why I still give my dog Pax four daily essential nutrients, which we call the Fab4 (vitamins, minerals, probiotics and Omega-3s). To ensure your dog’s diet is balanced, I recommend you do the same.
What are the best veggies to feed dogs?
The starting point is giving about 50% leafy greens and the other 50% is made up of other kinds of non-leafy vegetables.
The ratio of leafy to non-leafy vegetables also depends on your dog’s constitution, and whether they have a tendency to be hot or cold. Hot dogs can get higher proportions of green leafy veggies that are generally cooling. Dogs that get chilly should get fewer cooling veggies and increase their portion of warming veggies.
Dog’s that have a tendency to be hot do well on greens such as lettuce, mixed greens, dandelion leaves, cilantro, beet tops, carrot tops, sprouted seeds, bok choy, dill, wheatgrass and barley-grass.
Non-leafy cooling vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and green beans. Avocado, while not a veggie, is also cooling, as are cucumbers but not all dogs enjoy them.
Spinach and swiss chard are also cooling, however I do not recommend them for dogs that have a breed-specific predilection towards calcium oxalate stones/crystals or have been diagnosed with them. Steaming will reduce the amount of calcium oxalate within them.
These veggies can be considered suitable for both, cold and hot dogs and include beets and carrots.
These root vegetables generally do not digest very well in most canines and steaming or cooking them lightly is better.
Slightly warming veggies
These veggies can be considered suitable for both, cold and hot dogs and include asparagus and cabbage.
If your dog gets cold here are some warming veggies to consider feeding:
Parsley, parsnips, basil, squash, yams, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, ginger, kale.
What about mushrooms?
While it is safe for people to eat mushrooms raw, they should be cooked prior to feeding them to your dog. Cooking aids in their digestion as dogs cannot create the enzymes needed to break down the fibre and some sugars present in mushrooms.
Most mushrooms are cooling but shiitake mushrooms are neutral.
For more information on mushrooms consult the Recipe Maker.
Is it okay to feed veggies from the nightshade family?
There has been a lot of debate about whether or not nightshades are safe for dogs. In the past, I followed the general recommendation of not giving tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant to dogs but I have gradually become more lenient. I believe that feeding small amounts of ripe nightshades is okay for dogs.
Potatoes are neutral in thermal nature, and are generally known to reduce inflammation in small amounts. However, make sure that you do not give your dog any sprouted potatoes — which are toxic.
Tomatoes are very cooling, and should not be given to dogs that get chilly. It may be a good veggie for dogs that overheat and have a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night.
Are cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale and broccoli good for dogs?
This group has also been under excessive scrutiny in the past, with some people suggesting they absorb iodine which leads to hypothyroidism. I have never seen this in clinical practice.
There are many benefits of feeding cruciferous vegetables as they contain sulforaphane which has anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and detoxing properties.
Broccoli sprouts contain the highest levels of sulforaphane, then broccoli and then other cruciferous veggies. Finely chopping up the veggies and letting them sit for a bit before serving will increase the amount of available sulforaphane. If your dog prefers steamed veggies, steam them only briefly at a low temperature.
Veggies that are toxic or harmful to dogs
Leeks, chives and member of the onion family should be avoided as they cause red blood cell damage due to oxidants contained in the onion family.
The reason why dogs and cats are more sensitive is due to their lower levels of protective enzymes.
Is garlic safe for dogs?
Garlic also belongs to the onion family, however, there is no reason to panic if there is a small amount of garlic in treats or food. I have not seen any negative effects result from small amounts of garlic.
Are veggies and meat enough to make my dog’s diet complete?
They would be if our dogs could roam free in a natural pristine environment. Unfortunately, intensive agriculture, long-distance food transport, and soil depletion have led to a point where food is not sufficient to make the diet balanced.
Read the reviews to see what other dog lovers have observed.
If you are wondering whether your dog is deficient in minerals, you can run a HairQ Test to check their levels for minerals and heavy metals. You just need to mail in a sample of your dog’s hair and we email you the results when they’re ready.
Regardless of whether or not you feed organic or non-organic veggies, nutrient and mineral depletion is highly likely without providing all-natural essential supplements.
Click here to get the Fab4 essentials.
- Provide all-natural, plant-based minerals with GreenMin.
- Add all-natural certified organic multivitamin SoulFood.
- Include dog specific dairy-free pre/probiotic digestive support GutSense.
- Promote cell repair, support the nerves and brain, and reduce inflammation with mercury-free and sustainable FeelGood Omega-3 oil.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM