Do Dogs Need Vegetables?
A well-balanced diet for a human being includes lots of veggies which should be eaten on a daily basis. But the question is, does the same apply to dogs as well, especially since their staple diet is meat?
While vegetables are not necessary for a dog’s diet, there is no harm in adding them to their food. In fact, many vegetables can be good for them as they provide various minerals and vitamins that can be good for their health and coat. There are a few benefits that vegetables can add to the diet, for example, potatoes have lots of carbohydrates in them which can provide them lots of fiber, energy, and minerals.
However, you must keep in mind that vegetables are not the only source of these nutrients. Other products such as grains and rice can also provide them with the essential nutrients needed for their growth, so one does not necessarily have to resort to vegetables.
Another common misconception is that people believe that dogs are carnivores. Yes, they love meat, but dogs are actually omnivores, which means they can eat a lot of different food and do not necessarily have to survive only on meat.
Mixing Vegetables into the Food
It mostly depends on the type of food you are giving to your dog. Many people like to give their dogs home-cooked food, while others prefer kibble.
Most of the kibble brands you will find come with a stamp from AAFCO, which means that the food has been approved by the association to contain all the necessary nutrients and elements that is important for a dog. Hence, when you are feeding your dog kibble, you do not need to mix vegetables in it.
If you are giving home-cooked food such as meat, it is a good idea to cook it, as raw food (though beneficial for dogs) can be bad for them and adds extra bacteria to their poop. When you are cooking their meat, you can simply chop up some veggies and add them to the food. However, you have to make sure that the veggies are small in size so that your dog can eat it without getting the pieces lodged in its digestive system.
Another thing you need to be extra careful about is the type of vegetables you give to your pet. Some vegetables are good for them, like tomatoes, and some are a strict no-no like an onion. Some you can give without cooking, like cucumbers, but with others, it is necessary that you boil or cook them a bit before giving it to them, like potatoes.
Giving Vegetables as Treats
You don’t always need to give meat or a dairy-based product as a treat. You can even give your dogs various vegetables as treats and they will love it. Some of the most popular products that people use are green beans, carrots, and broccoli as small treats. Cut them up into small pieces before giving them and if you feel that they are too hard, you can boil them up a bit to soften them.
The vegetables mentioned above and the likes of them are low in calorie, so you do not have to worry about your dog gaining weight or them being bad for its diet.
If you give veggies too often, they won’t be counted as a treat anymore and will be a part of your pet’s diet or snack. Remember that treats should make up only 10% of a dog’s diet. You can discuss the amount in detail with your vet and give veggies according to your dog’s weight and activity.
Vegetables for Overweight Dogs
Overweight dogs can have many health problems especially as they get older, which is why vets recommend that owners take care of these problems as soon as possible. This means that the daily intake of food will decrease, and you may even need to change the type of food. Usually, when this happens, a dog tends to feel hungry at all times, so it is a good idea and recommended by vets that you add some vegetables to their kibble or food so that they can act as filler and keep the dog’s tummy full.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that this sudden change in diet can be a bit heavy on the dog’s digestive system, so you have to be very careful with how you proceed. Your vet will be the best person to help you understand how you should go about this.
To help them with the transition, it is best that you cook/steam the vegetables to soften them so that they can be digested easily. Another option is to puree the vegetables before feeding.
Vegetables to be Used as Laxative
If you feel that your dog is constipated, an excellent solution is to mix a little canned pumpkin into its food. In a couple of days, constipation should clear. Pureed pumpkin can also be used to cure mild diarrhea as it adds fiber and absorbs the extra water in the poop which makes it harden up. If you feel that these solutions are not working, it is best that you take your dog to the vet.
Veggies You Need to Avoid
Not all vegetables are good for your dog as they can cause digestive problems and health problems as well, so make sure you avoid the following list of vegetables:
- Unripe tomatoes
- Raw potatoes
- Grapes or raisins (in fruits)
Alternatives to Vegetables
If you feel that the vegetable intake of your dog is too high and would like to reduce it, there are some alternatives that you can consider giving them. These alternatives are filled with minerals and vitamins while making sure that the carbohydrate level is maintained. Some of these alternatives include the following.
- Sprouted seeds