Most people think of dogs as meat-eaters — and of course meat needs to make up a large percentage of their diet. But fruit and veggies are also beneficial to canine health and well-being.
While vegetables and fruit may not be classified as “essential” for dogs, they’re clearly very beneficial. Evidence suggests they can provide the same benefits to dogs as they do to humans, and can help prevent cancer, cardiovascular problems, autoimmune diseases, metabolic issues, and more. Vegetables and fruit contain an abundance of valuable nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Phytonutrients can slow down oxidative damage and other effects of aging, and antioxidants have also been found to prevent cognitive decline in aged dogs.
All this means that vegetables and fruit (preferably fresh and organic) are an invaluable addition to a dog’s predominantly meat-based diet. Quantities will depend on the individual dog, the breed, and particular health concerns. Start with small amounts and experiment with different fruits and veggies to see which ones your dog likes best.
TOP 7 VEGETABLES AND FRUITS FOR DOGS
A cruciferous vegetable, packed with phytonutrients such as sulforaphane
and isothiocyanates, yielding cancer preventive properties. Rich in vitamin C, also contains vitamins A, B complex, K, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and manganese.
A perennial plant, and a moderate source of fibre. Contains vitamins A, B complex, C, E, K; and minerals, particularly copper and iron, lesser amounts of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.
Dogs can’t digest cellulose – but neither can we!
The cell walls of vegetables contain cellulose, which dogs can’t digest. But humans and most other mammals can’t digest cellulose either! In fact, the indigestibility of insoluble fibres like cellulose carries some benefits — cellulose fibres improve fecal quality, aid digestion, eliminate toxins, and improve anal gland issues in dogs. Insoluble dietary fibre can also help lower and regulate blood glucose levels, helping with diabetes.
Studies have shown that dogs with fibre in their diets have improved gut microbiome diversity, in comparison to those fed all-meat diets. Pureeing and cooking the vegetables and fruit can help break down the cell walls.
Leafy green vegetable from the cruciferous family. Good source of fibre, and packed with phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, along with indole-3-carbinol, which can exert anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventive properties. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and also contains some B complex vitamins. Mineral-rich, particularly in copper, and also provides good quantities of calcium, iron, phosphorous and manganese.
Packed with antioxidant phytonutrients, including anthocyanidin compounds, chlorogenic acid, tannins, myricetin, and quercetin. The benefits of this wonderful fruit are plentiful, and it offers preventive properties for numerous diseases, including cancer. Good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B complex, C, K, and manganese.
(AVOID CORE AND PIPS) Antioxidant, phytonutrient, and flavonoid-rich, including quercetin and epicatechin. Good source of vitamin C, also containing A, B complex, E, and K. Mineral content includes iron and phosphorus.
How closely related are dogs and wolves?
Although dogs diverged from wolves around 38,000 years ago, their digestive systems haven’t changed that much. However, a few factors indicate that dogs have evolved to consume and benefit from a more varied diet than their ancestral wild counterparts. The extent of these changes can vary slightly between breeds.
For example, adaptations to genes AMY2B, MGAM, and SGLT1 have resulted in an increased capacity for starch digestion, with some breeds, such as huskies, remaining less adapted.
Phytonutrients include bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme with anti- inflammatory, anti-histamine, and cancer-preventive properties. Rich in vitamin C, also containing B complex and E. Mineral content includes a good amount of manganese, copper, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Good source of fibre, and rich in antioxidant phytonutrients and flavonoids for disease prevention. Good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, K, and copper. One of the least allergenic fruits.
While good quality whole meats should continue to form the basis of your dog’s diet, adding in these vegetables and fruits — and others! — will give him an important boost of extra nutrition, help prevent disease, and go a long way toward keeping him in optimal health.