Vegetables for Dogs
While it’s safe for humans to eat almost all vegetables, for dogs that is not quite the case. Most of them are safe for dogs, but there are a few that should be avoided. Some can even make a dog sick, sometimes very sick. It’s the same way with fruits. Most are all right for dogs to eat, but there are a few that could cause serious problems. Most dogs seem to like having a vegetable as a treat now and them. Some however, don’t care for them at all, and others are somewhat picky. Most dogs seem to like raw carrots. At least those who love to chew on things do. Broccoli and cauliflower heads are usually very popular with dogs as well.
Raw Vegetables – OK, But Not the Best
Does it matter if the vegetables are raw or cooked? Humans get more nutrition from raw vegetables than from cooked vegetables. For dogs however that’s not the case. A human will get most of the nutrition that is found in a raw carrot. So will a horse. Anyone who has owned a horse knows how much those animals love raw carrots, and also apples. Why bring horses into the conversation? It’s simply that both humans and horses have fairly long digestive tracts. Dogs do not. Because of their shorter digestive tract, most of the nutrients in a carrot, or an apple for that matter, will pass right through. In addition, a dog’s digestive system cannot break down the cellulose walls in the outer layers of some vegetables. They don’t have the enzymes to do it, as do humans and horses. Also, vegetables are a source of carbohydrates, with some being especially rich in carbohydrates. Dogs however don’t need as much in the way of carbohydrates as people do, so they don’t benefit as much from eating vegetables in that respect.
It may be beginning to sound a little like vegetables don’t really do much for a dog, except to make nice treats if the dog happens to like them. The truth is, it’s a good idea to give a dog some vegetables now and then, and some fruit as well, as both can do a dog good. It’s just that the dog doesn’t get as much nutritional value out of a serving of vegetables as a human does.
Cooked Vegetables are Best
Dogs will however get more nutrition from a vegetable that has been cooked than from the same vegetable that is raw, whereas nutrients that benefit humans are often reduced or lost through cooking. It does seem to make some sense that a carrot that has been cooked and mashed will be more thoroughly digested by a dog. Put another way, as the cooked carrot speeds its way through the dog’s digestive tract, the dog’s digestive system will be able to pull more of the good nutrients from it.
Most of the vegetable you grow in your garden are not only safe for dogs to eat, but good for them as well. That’s certainly true of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Snap peas are good, and regular peas are as well. Some dogs like the pea pods, which won’t hurt them, but they won’t get much nutrition from them either. Cucumbers are all right if sliced or cubed, and the seeds have been removed. Beans are better when cooked, and potatoes must be cooked. Asparagus is a nice treat, but you’ll have to be a little careful with this vegetable, as once a dog takes a liking to asparagus it is apt to start helping itself to the tender young shoots, and the rest of the family may have to go without. Squash and pumpkins are fine, but are much better for the dog when cooked. Dogs, like humans, seem to prefer cooked pumpkin anyway.
What Isn’t Safe
What vegetables are bad for a dog? Raw potatoes have already been mentioned, as they can cause problems. Two vegetables you must never feed a dog are onions and garlic. There is a chemical in both that can destroy red blood cells in a dog, and make it quite sick. Even prepared foods containing onion or garlic powder should never be fed to a dog
Fruits and nuts should perhaps be mentioned briefly. Most fruits and berries are fine, but some nuts are not. Grapes and raisins are toxic, and can bring on kidney failure in some breeds. Apples, bananas, cantaloupe, pears, raspberries, and strawberries are all good. Raw fruits containing large seeds or pits should be avoided for obvious reasons. As far as nuts are concerned, most are probably safe, but macadamia nuts can be deadly, and should never be given to a dog. An avocado can also make a dog seriously ill, as it contains a chemical called persin, which is toxic to dogs.
Vegetables for dogs are generally safe and nutritious, but more so when cooked. Dogs will still get the benefit of various trace elements even if the vegetables are raw, so feel free to let your puppy chew on a carrot to its hearts content.