A variety of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables can help your dog live a healthier, longer life.
Feed as snacks or add a tablespoon or two (depending on size) to your pal’s dish at meal time. Veggies are especially good for dogs who need to watch their waistlines – they help fill up tummies without adding extra calories.
The carrot is one of the kings of the vegetable patch. There are over 100 varieties, from deep purple and white to the brilliant orange we are most accustomed to. Each is a storehouse of nutrient power. Carrots contain pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamins B, C, D, E and K, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, copper, and iodine. They support the immune system, aid digestion, and are also recognized as a glandular tonic, skin cleanser, and eye conditioner.
Broccoli, a phyto nutrient-dense member of the cruciferous family, is a low glycemic vegetable kingpin. This means it does not cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Broccoli contains lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A and D. It is one of the most important cancer fighting vegetables. It contains no fewer than three cancer protective biochemicals including sulforaphane, which boosts the immune system.
Other members of the cruciferous family include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, rutabagas, kohlrabi, bok choy, kale, Swiss chard, collards, and turnips. Clinical studies are currently examining the role of cruciferous vegetables and their possible link to lower cancer rates.
Broccoli should be fed in moderation, because it can depress thyroid function if fed in large amounts. When it comes to the cruciferous family, try cooked rather than raw, because cooking releases indole, a cancer fighting enzyme.
Green beans are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. They are an excellent source of vitamin A because of their concentration of carotenoids, including beta-carotene. Green beans also include vitamins C and K, calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, thiamin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin K stands out because it is important for maintaining strong bones. Vitamin K-1 activates osteocalcin, the major noncollagen protein in bone, and acts as an anchor for calcium molecules inside bones. Green beans are heart smart, too.
If your canine or feline companion is experiencing occasional bouts of constipation or diarrhea, pureéd pumpkin may be just what the doctor ordered. It’s a terrific stool softener, which makes it a perfect remedy for constipation, often helping dogs or cats who have an upset stomach or indigestion. Since pumpkin is very rich in fiber, all you have to do is add one or two teaspoons to your animal’s food. The dietary fiber contained in pumpkin absorbs water, so it is also a great remedy for diarrhea. If your dog is a little bit on the roly-poly side, pumpkin can help because it quickly creates a feeling of being full.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin E. They also provide many other important nutrients, including an abundance of vitamins A, B-6, and C, calcium, iron, folate, potassium, copper, thiamine, and iron. Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate and another example of a beta-carotene rich vegetable, a significant factor in reducing the risk of certain cancers. They are also a good source of dietaryfiber and help promote a healthy gastrointestinal system.
Over 72 different studies have demonstrated that tomatoes have the ability to lower the risk of some kinds of cancer. The secret to the tomato’s success is lycopene, the chemical that gives tomatoes their bright red colour. Tomatoes that have been processed by cooking actually contain more lycopene, because cooking breaks down the cellular walls, allowing carotenoids to be more concentrated. To make tomatoes even more beneficial, add a little fat such as cold pressed virgin olive oil or coconut oil. This simple trick allows the lycopene to be even better absorbed into the body. Along with lycopene, tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
That daily apple can be used in so many ways. Apples are the perfect training treat, and applesauce is an ideal base for all kinds of biscuits as well as fruit and vegetable mixes for home cooked and raw diets. One apple contains the equivalent of about 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Researchers have found that red delicious, northern spy, and Ida red apples contain more potent disease fighting antioxidants than other red apples. In fact, red delicious were shown to have higher antioxidant levels than seven other varieties. Pectin, the fiber found in apple skins, is fermented in the intestines; this in turn produces short-chain fatty acids that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and support the cells of the intestinal lining, making apples yet another excellent cancer fighting food. Keep in mind that organic apples may contain around one-third more antioxidants than regular apples.
Blueberries and cranberries
Scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture have discovered that blueberries and cranberries contain significant levels of resveratrol, a natural compound found to have anti-cancer qualities and is also believed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Blueberries are mini powerhouses of antioxidants. These antioxidants come from anthocyanins, the pigments that give blueberries their deep blue colour. Like cranberries, blueberries help prevent urinary tract infections because they contain condensed tannins, the compounds responsible for keeping bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder. A sprinkle a day keeps UTIs at bay.
Cantaloupes belong to the same family as the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin. They are an excellent source of vitamin A due to their very high concentration of beta-carotene, and help support good vision. Cantaloupe is also a good source of vitamin B-6, vitamin C, fiber, folate, niacin, and potassium. Cantaloupe is considered an especially safe fruit because it is not commonly allergenic, nor does it contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, purines, or pesticide residues.
New studies show that watermelon packs an even more powerful lycopene punch than tomatoes – 40% more, that is! Watermelon also contains vitamins A, B-6, C, and thiamin. It’s a great treat for hot days.
Audi Donamor has been successfully creating special needs diets for companion animals for two decades. She founded the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She is the proud recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for her work in cancer, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College. The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund is also the recipient of the “Pets + Us” Community Outreach Champion Award.