Whether you’re trying to eat more veggies (and, let’s face it, we all probably should), or you’ve got a few extra carrots hanging around in the fridge, it’s natural to wonder if it’s safe to share a few of your favorite vegetables with your four-legged bestie.
Fortunately, there are a number of safe vegetables for dogs. Learn more about the health benefits of vegetables for dogs and how to serve them, below.
Vegetables for Dogs: Green Beans
Full of fiber and low in calories, green beans make a great, vitamin-packed snack for dogs, says Dr. Antje Joslin, veterinarian at Dogtopia daycare in Phoenix.
Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium, adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of “Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.” She recommends keeping a bag of green beans in your freezer for a crunchy treat.
They can also be served to dogs chopped, steamed, raw or straight from a can, Joslin says. Just be sure to get no-sodium beans if you go the canned route.
Vegetables for Dogs: Spinach
Spinach contains large amounts of vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene and roughage (which is great for stimulating your dog’s digestive track), Joslin says.
As with humans, vitamin A is important for vision and immune system function, while vitamin K helps blood to clot and antioxidants help prevent cancer and other types of cellular damage to the body’s tissues, says Dr. Jennifer L. Summerfield, certified dog trainer and author of “Train Your Dog Now!”
Joslin suggests chopping and steaming spinach first before serving it to your dog.
Vegetables for Dogs: Sweet Potatoes
Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes are a dog-safe vegetable. They should be pureed in a blender or juicer for best nutrient absorption.
“Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans, and don’t digest plant material very efficiently,” Summerfield says. She adds that, in general, vegetables should be given to dogs in small amounts or as a supplement to their regular diet. They should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s overall diet.
Vegetables for Dogs: Asparagus
Another low-calorie treat, asparagus provides vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, which helps build and maintain connective tissue in the body, such as skin, bones and blood vessels, Summerfield says. Asparagus also has folic acid and dietary fiber.
Like sweet potato, asparagus should be pureed before serving it to your dog, she adds.
Vegetables for Dogs: Brussels Sprouts
Believe it or not, Brussels sprouts aren’t exclusively reserved for food bloggers and trendy restaurants.
“Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, these little power balls are great snacks for dogs,” Joslin says. “The best way to serve Brussels sprouts to your pup is by steaming, boiling or microwaving them. Don’t serve them raw, as they will be too hard for your dog to digest.”
Vegetables for Dogs: Broccoli
Broccoli is another dog-safe vegetable that is high in fiber, which is important for regular bowel movements and can help dogs feel more satisfied after eating, Summerfield says.
Broccoli should be served to dogs in small quantities and broken down into bite-sized pieces, either raw or cooked. As with all vegetables, broccoli should be served plain, without any added seasonings or oils.
Vegetables for Dogs: Carrots
Carrots make a great, crunchy snack that can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and can lower the risk of heart disease, Joslin says.
Carrots are also high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body after consumption, Summerfield says.
Before adding any vegetables to your dog’s meals, speak with your veterinarian about which vegetables are safe to add to her diet. And remember, onions, garlic and chives are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.