Fruits and Vegetables That Double as Dog Treats
Humans are well aware of the beneficial and health-promoting properties of fruits and vegetables. They are jam-packed with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, as well as being low in calories and excel in hydrating our bodies. But fruits are not just great for human consumption. Animals, including our pets, gain a lot of value from eating them as well. In fact, many people share food with their dogs often.
Dogs, much like their humans, are omnivorous. They can consume both plant-based foods and meat. A lot of dog food is actually made up of a combination of vegetables and meat. Some owners like to boost their dog’s meal’s nutritional properties by supplementing them with fruits as well.
Of course, a dog’s physiological makeup is not compliant with every type of fruit and vegetable, so knowing what the dog can actually consume is important to keep your puppy from getting sick. It is also important to distribute fruits and vegetables to dogs in moderation. Ultimately these are treats, even if they are healthy, and too much can create stomach issues. This is especially true if their stomach has never had to process this type of fruit or vegetable before.
Fruits might be low in calorie counts, but giving the dog too much could add those calories up pretty quickly. Because fruits are loaded with natural sugars, it is a good idea to treat the dog to only a few pieces of fruit or vegetable at any one time. While both fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, excessive consumption of fiber can lead to digestive issues for dogs as well.
So what are some fruits and vegetables that are great to double as dog treats? Here are 5 ideas for each category that your dog will likely appreciate.
Apples are a great choice. They are something most people have in their home already, they are inexpensive to acquire, and they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and are high in fiber. It is important to consider that mass-marketed apples tend to have high levels of pesticides used to prevent bugs from getting at them, so any apples given to dogs (and humans for that matter) should be thoroughly washed before serving. Even more importantly, only the commonly consumed parts of the apple should be given to a dog. The stem, seeds, and apple core should be removed.
As far as fruit treats go, bananas are great because they are loaded with copper, magnesium, and potassium, and stacked with a full array of vitamins. While bananas are low in calories, sodium, and cholesterol, they are very high in terms of sugar content, however, so this choice of fruit is more of a treat than part of a regular meal, and dogs should be given these sparingly and in small amounts.
Pineapples are another great choice for a dog treat, especially due to the richness of bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme to promote protein absorption in dogs. These should be served in moderation due to high sugar content, as well as a very high fiber profile. Much like humans, dogs should not be trying to ingest the outer, prickly part of the pineapple.
Peaches are a great choice for dogs as a treat, pending the pit is removed. Pits and seeds are choking hazards for animals, and they contain cyanide, a poison to many living creatures, so it's important to get those out before treating the dog to any fruit with a pit inside. Peaches are very sweet and high in fiber, so it's a great treat in small portions to assist in digestion and are very high in Vitamin A. Serving a dog canned peaches, however, is unadvised as they are high in sugary syrups.
Commonly known as a superfood due to its extensive nutritional profile, blueberries are a great choice for dog treats. They boost immune systems as they are loaded with antioxidants and are a great source for phytochemicals and fiber. For consumption on hot days, freezing the blueberries before serving is a great idea too.
While many humans balk at the idea of eating them, dogs tend to adore brussel sprouts. They are very nutritious for a dog’s physiology and make a great treat or inclusion with meals. They do have a high tendency to cause gas, so it's wise to limit the dog’s consumption to avoid digestive unrest. It is also not advised to cook brussel sprouts with any spices, oils, or butter before serving them to the dog. They are best consumed in their washed, yet natural form.
Carrots are a definite yes for dogs. Their nutritional profile is amazing, and they have additional benefits for dogs. Aside from being loaded with carotene (which improves skin and coat quality), they are stacked with antioxidants, are low in fat and calorie count, improve vision, and even help keep a dog’s teeth healthy by chewing on them. Their distribution to dogs should be tempered only due to the high fiber counts.
As cucumbers are largely made up of water, they are not only great for hydration reasons, they are also low in calories. Many dogs who are overweight tend to get cucumbers as snacks to reduce their weight. A half-cup of sliced cucumber has less than a quarter of the calories in just one dog biscuit. Cucumbers are high in vitamins B1, C, and K, as well as rich in magnesium, copper, biotin, and potassium. Of course, there is no need to be excessive, as too many cucumbers can lead to digestive issues.
Dogs can certainly have potatoes, but there are a couple of rules. First, they should never be fed raw because those are hard for dogs to digest. Also, they should never be cooked with butter, seasonings, or milk as the inclusion of all of those lead to stomach issues for dogs. The great thing is that potatoes are very rich in iron, which is a great health benefit.
Celery is loaded with benefits for dogs with its high Vitamin A, C, and K content, lots of magnesium, potassium, folate, and is low fat and low calorie. Celery is known for promoting heart health, fighting cancer, and even improving your dog’s breath. Celery, much like the other fruit and vegetable options, should not be used as a substitute for food, but rather as snacks. When served, the celery should be chopped up into smaller pieces to avoid becoming a choking hazard.
The above choices are just some of the great fruit and vegetable options for dog treats. As noted, seeds and pits must be removed before providing the dog with the treat, and some fruits, more-so than others should be given in very finite volumes.
It is important to also be aware of fruits and vegetables that must never be given to dogs especially including grapes (which are extremely toxic to them), grapefruit, cherries, avocado, plums, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, onions, and several others.
Of course, always monitor a dog when it is having a fruit or vegetable for the first time as there might be allergic factors to consider. In that same regard, it is not wise to introduce more than one new treat at a time as if one triggers a reaction, it will be hard to identify which one did so when multiple new fruits and vegetables are consumed at once.