Healthy Treat Alternatives & Those to Avoid
If your dogs are like mine, they are often patrolling the kitchen while I prepare dinner hoping for something to drop and inevitably be gobbled up regardless of what it is. There have been times that a fruit or vegetable fell to the ground and I was unsure whether or not it was safe for my dogs to consume. Everybody has heard the horror stories of chocolate being poison for dogs and chicken bones being a recipe for choking – however, there are plenty more stories out there when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
This quick read should give you a good synopsis of what produce you can supplement your pup’s diet with, which ones to provide in limited amounts, and which ones to avoid altogether!
Now, just because a fruit or vegetable is always safe for your dog doesn’t mean that it should become an everyday occurrence. Unless specified needs arise during a check-up with your vet, where they recommend a daily supplement of sorts – these should still remain a special treat that you know is safe for your dog to enjoy on a consistent basis.
- Apples: These are an excellent source of vitamins and fiber for your pup. Always remove the seed and core before feeding.
- Blueberries: Blueberries are what is known as a superfood. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals. Blueberries make an excellent treat substitute and training tool when it comes to catching.
- Carrots: These are one of my dog’s favorite snacks. They are a low-calorie treat substitute that is high in fiber and beta-carotene. Carrots are great for vision as well as your dog’s teeth.
- Celery: Does your dog have stinky breath? Then celery is the right veggie treat for you. This crunchy snack packs plenty of vitamins and is known to freshen that pungent doggy breath.
- Cucumbers: Cucumbers are great snacks for overweight dogs as they feel like a treat but hold little carbs, fats, or oils. Cucumbers are also loaded with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
- Green Beans: Green beans, in all forms, are safe for dogs to eat as long as they are unseasoned and include no sodium of any kind. These veggies carry plenty of fiber and are naturally low in calories.
- Watermelon: Provided you remove the rind and seeds this is an excellent snack for your pups. Watermelon is a great way to keep your dog hydrated on a hot day and is full of great vitamins and potassium.
These healthy options should be sparsely included in your dog’s diet and never in excessive quantities as they could pose some health risks or mild complications.
- Broccoli: Broccoli crowns, not stems, are fine to feed your dog in moderation. While it does have high levels of fiber and low levels of fat, it also contains isothiocyanates, which may lead to mild or potentially severe gastric irritation in some dogs.
- Brussel Sprouts: These are great snacks for dogs but an over-indulgence can lead to excess gas in your pup. The same disclaimer goes for cabbage!
- Cranberries: You might not think of these as beneficial snacks but they are safe for dogs in limited quantities. Excess ingestion will lead to an upset stomach and intestinal trouble.
- Spinach: This veggie may be high in protein and vitamins but it also contains plenty of oxalic acids, which can block your dog’s ability to absorb important calcium and could result in kidney damage.
- Sugary Fruits (Pears, Pineapple, Peaches, Cantaloupe): All of these fruits, and others, and typically fine to feed in moderation. However, with senior dogs, or those with diabetes, you should avoid excessive quantities due to the high sugar content naturally found in these fruits.
This list contains several fruits and veggies your dog should never eat. More exhaustive lists can be found online, but these are the most common items in a kitchen that may fall to the floor and be gobbled up by a waiting pooch. Remember, if your dog does happen to ingest an amount of these by accident – DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Wait and see if your dog has any adverse reaction and be sure to call your veterinarian as soon as possible. There is a chance that the amount was so small, that it may not have a dramatic reaction.
- Avocado: What might be great for humans is not good for dogs. Avocados contain persin, which is a toxin that causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Although the flesh of the fruit contains a smaller amount of persin than the skin or pit, this item is best avoided altogether.
- Cherries: Although it may be safe for your dog to eat the flesh of a cherry, the pit poses severe complications. The pits contain cyanide, a poison that can disrupt cellular transportation of oxygen.
- Garlic: A common kitchen ingredient is poisonous to dogs and can cause severe intestinal trouble in small amounts. Always be careful when preparing garlic as a single clove could pose serious trouble to your pooch.
- Grapes: Grapes are extremely dangerous to dogs and in some cases can be so toxic that they cause acute and sudden kidney failure.
- Mushrooms: No mushrooms are safe for dogs to ingest. Avoid these altogether.
- Onions: These vegetables, along with leeks and chives, belong to a poisonous family of plants that are dangerous to dogs and cats. Oddly enough, poisoning from onions is more serious in Japanese breeds, but you should avoid your dog ingesting onions at all costs.
- Tomatoes: Although the ripe, red flesh of a tomato is generally safe for a dog, the green parts of tomato are not. These contain a toxin known as solanine that can be harmful to dogs.
Now that you’ve read through our list, it is good to remind you that in most cases these fruits and veggies can only be harmful when provided in large quantities. That does not mean you have the green light to feed your dog spinach every day and blueberries with every meal. These are meant to be fun, healthy, and beneficial alternatives to store-bought treats and supplemental foods for your pup to enjoy on a hot day or when their diet requires it.