Dogs digest food differently than humans, so don't assume that you can feed your dog all of your table scraps as treats. Ideally, you should feed your dog high-quality dog food designed for her age and size. Although your dog does not need extra vegetables, certain vegetables, rich in phytonutrients and high in fiber, can make a fine addition to a dog's diet. However, many vegetables may be toxic to your dog. If you are in doubt about a specific vegetable, contact your veterinarian before adding it to your dog's diet.
When to feed vegetables
Your dog does not need vegetables or other people food for a healthy diet. Unless it is recommended by your veterinarian, high-quality dog food will generally offer the best nutrition for your dog. Making home-cooked meals can be complicated as you have to not only ensure every ingredient is safe for your dog but that is also providing all of the necessary nutrients and calories. If you opt to cook for your dog, only select safe vegetables and protein sources and get trusted recipes directly from your veterinarian.
However, vegetables can be a great option to use as treats for training. You can offer them raw or cooked, but avoid any additives such as butter or other flavorings. In addition, give treats in moderation, especially when introducing new vegetables as any change in diet may disrupt your dog's digestion.
Good vegetables for dogs
There are many vegetables that make for healthy and tasty treats for your dog. Brussels sprouts and cabbage are both safe, nutritious vegetables, but they may cause your dog to have gas. Carrots are an excellent, low-calorie treat that is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene. Celery is another crunchy option that not only contains vitamins A, B, and C, but also helps to freshen your dog's breath.
Plain green beans and peas are other healthy snacks and you can feed them fresh from the garden or purchase frozen or canned options as long as they don't have a sauce or added salt. Spinach is another good snack in small amounts. Avoid feeding too much, as spinach contains oxalic acid which can damage your dog's kidneys if fed in large amounts.
Broccoli is safe for your dog to eat if prepared properly. The stalks can obstruct your dog's esophagus, so you should avoid feeding the stalk or cut it into small pieces. In addition, the florets may cause gastrointestinal distress in some dogs, so start with a small amount to determine your dog's reaction.
Vegetables to avoid feeding
Some vegetables are toxic to your dog. If she eats any of these vegetables or displays signs of distress after eating any vegetable, contact your veterinarian immediately to determine what treatment is necessary. Some vegetables that are toxic to dogs include onions, garlic, and leeks. They can cause severe symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. In severe cases, they can cause your dog's blood cells to rupture.
While fully cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes are OK, they are toxic when raw. Other parts of the potato plant can also be problematic for your dog. While corn kernels are safe for your dog, don't feed her the entire cob, which can block the digestive tract if eaten.
Tomatoes, avocadoes, and mushrooms
Tomatoes and avocados are sometimes considered fruits and other times vegetables, and mushrooms are actually fungi. Regardless of their technical classification, you should avoid feeding your dog any of these items. Ripe tomatoes may be okay to feed your dog, but unripened tomatoes and the green leaves and stems of the plant are toxic.
Like tomatoes, mushrooms are a bit of grey area. Cleaned, white mushrooms that you purchase in the grocery store are likely safe for your dog; however, many species of mushrooms are toxic. Avoid feeding mushrooms unless you know what species it is and have cleared it with your veterinarian.
All parts of the avocado, including the skin and pit, contain a toxin called persin. If your dog eats an avocado, he may suffer vomiting and diarrhea.