Dogs are omnivores, which means a variety of foods can fit into your dog's diet, including vegetables, which are great for your dog's health. But just because dogs can eat veggies doesn't mean that all of them are safe for your canine companion. We spoke with Dr. Jordan Kautz, a veterinarian at Crestview Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas, to learn more about how to keep your pooch healthy by knowing what vegetables dogs cannot eat. There are some that should stay securely stowed in the fridge or pantry and which should be switched out for dog food instead.
Can my dog eat bulb veggies?
No, dogs should not eat underground bulb vegetables. The ASPCA's basic rule of thumb is if a vegetable grows as an underground bulb, keep it out of your doggy friend's bowl. Onions, chives, and leeks and other allium vegetables contain a chemical that can break down your dog's red blood cells if he eats too many of them. In small quantities, these bulb veggies are usually harmless, but the best way to be safe is to avoid them altogether. Although beets grow underground, they are safe for dogs.
Ingredients that we use as seasonings are also cautioned against. Garlic, for instance contains the same chemical as alliums but in smaller amounts. Some dog foods and treats contain very low doses of garlic, which are generally considered safe by most veterinarians and pet nutritionists. To be safe, never give your dog whole cloves of garlic or large quantities of garlic powder. If your dog eats any of these vegetables, he may develop anemia, which can be fatal if left untreated.
Can my dog eat potatoes and tomatoes?
Potatoes and tomatoes are safe, but avoid the stems and leaves. Many high-quality dog foods use potatoes and tomatoes as ingredients. "These two vegetables themselves are safe to eat, but the leaves and stems of the plants are a local irritant to a dog's stomach lining which can cause digestive tract issues and discomfort," explains Dr. Kautz. The green parts of the plants contain solanine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and confusion in dogs. This is more commonly found in raw potatoes rather than cooked. If your dog sometimes visits your vegetable garden, be sure to limit his access to the tomato, potato and other nightshade plants, including bell pepper, eggplant and tomatillo.
However, sweet potatoes, especially cooked and in small bite-sized pieces, can be a great snack with health benefits for you dog. They are high in antioxidants like beta-carotene, like other orange vegetables such as carrots — also a great treat— magnesium, potassium, vitamins B6 and B, and a decent source of vitamin A. No wonder they're touted as a superfood.
Is rhubarb bad for my dog to eat?
Rhubarb should not be fed to dogs. Rhubarb pie is a tasty human treat, but rhubarb is toxic for your canine friend. Like the stems and leaves of the nightshade plants, the leaves and stalk of the rhubarb are the toxic parts. Both the stalk and leaves contain oxalate crystals (although the leaves are more toxic), which deplete the calcium in the dog's body. Symptoms of rhubarb poisoning include drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors and bloody urine. In some severe cases, rhubarb poisoning can cause sudden renal failure.
Can my dog eat mushrooms?
No, do not feed your dog mushrooms unless they are grocery store mushrooms like button mushrooms or portobello mushrooms. "For dogs, its safest to avoid mushrooms," says Dr. Kautz. "Some of them in small amounts may be fine but its too difficult to be sure which ones are ok and how much, so its safest to avoid them"
Although not technically vegetables, mushrooms are often used as vegetables in cooking. Some mushrooms are safe for people to eat, while others will cause quite the stomach upset. For dogs, all mushrooms are on the unsafe list, unless they are from the grocery store.
All wild mushrooms, however, should be considered unsafe for dogs and if you suspect that your pup has eaten any, you should immediately consult your veterinarian. Most often, mushrooms will cause stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, mushroom poisoning may lead to permanent liver or kidney damage or even death.
So what vegetables are safe for my dog?
As mentioned before, both sweet potatoes and carrots can make for a nutritious and healthy snack for your vegetable-loving dog. Also, zucchini and green beans, both raw and cooked, offer lots of nutrients and are gentle on your dog's stomach. Cucumbers are a crunchy, low-calorie snack for both humans and as dog treats.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli florets or stems, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts can be decent snacks, but only in small doses. They contain a compound called raffinose that is more difficult for dogs — and humans — to digest until gut bacteria ferments it. This causes bloating and gassiness which can easily lead to an upset stomach.
Other healthy vegetables that should be eaten in smaller quantities to avoid an upset stomach include black beans, garbanzo beans, celery, and various squashes. Watermelon, cranberries, apples and other fruits can be an okay treat, but because of the sugar content, dog owners should limit intake as part of a balanced diet.
Avoid feeding your dog bulb vegetables that grow underground. These include onions chives, leeks, and garlic. Potatoes and tomatoes are safe, but avoid the stems and leaves. Avoid rhubarb and any wild mushroom. there are many safe fruits and vegetables for dogs, but even some of them may not be good in large amounts. Also, be aware of any foods, even safe foods, that are cut into chunks that might be large enough to be a choking hazard.