Best Vegetables for Dogs - My Top 5 Picks!
with Allison Shalla of homeoPAWthic, Wellness Advocate

Ok, so in the previous article of this mini-series, we established that fruits & vegetables provide essential nutrients, beneficial phytonutrients, soluble and insoluble fiber to a dog’s diet.


Now, let’s talk a bit more about which ones provide the most benefits. I’m going to focus on veggies here, and we can talk about fruits more later. Whether you feed raw, a home-prepared cooked diet, or feed a commercial food (i.e. kibble), including a wide variety of veggies in moderate amounts to offset the development of illness, reduce inflammation, support health. *note - I am in Canada, so we spell potatoe, with the "e" on the end. Potato, Potatoe...all the same ;)


I’m going to group my TOP 5 Vegetable picks into 3 categories because some of them provide the same benefits.


ORANGE VEGETABLES are the first category and two of my favourites from this category are 1) carrots and 2) sweet potatoe. Both are sources of beta-carotene, which is found in yellow and orange pigmented vegetables. Beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A, meaning the body must convert it to retinol, which is it’s usable form in the body. While dogs have a limited ability to make this conversion, beta-carotene is still beneficial as it Scavenges free radicals and works together with Vitamin E.


Carrots - I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t like carrots! Many love them raw as a snack, which is great way to promote healthy teeth – but in order to really benefit from carrots, they should be cooked or steamed and mashed. Several studies have found that eating more carrots is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer. [2]


Sweet Potatoe Profile: 1 cup of sweet potatoe offers 200 – 240 calories (so compared to something like broccoli, they are much more calorie-dense). They are higher on the glycemic index due to their starch content, but, don’t let that scare you! Properly cooking sweet potatoes by boiling & mashing them makes them easily digestible and provides an excellent source of fibre in addition to beta-carotene. *see note below if your pet has a history of calcium-oxalate stones



My 3rd & 4th top picks are from the GREEN VEGETABLES category: 3) Spinach and 4) Broccoli. Green fruits and vegetables are rich in lutein, isothiocyanates, and isoflavones. Dark leafy greens have over 50 phytonutrients including kaempferol and quercetin. Kaempferol is an antioxidant shown to protect the body against cancer-promoting free radicals and quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid also shown to protect the body against free radicals and reduce inflammation. Quercetin is often used in natural protocols to alleviate allergy symptoms.


Spinach is high in fiber, low in carbohydrates, and does not have any starch or sugar. This leafy green is high in magnesium, folate, and manganese. *see note below if your pet has a history of calcium-oxalate stones


Broccoli profile: 1 cup of broccoli has approx. 40 calories, so very low in calories compared to more strachy vegetables. As mentioned in my previous post, Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables that has been found to have potent anticancer properties. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to cause tumor cell death and reduce tumor size in test-tube and animal studies. A higher intake of cruciferous vegetables may also be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.[1]


My 5th top pick is from the BLUE & PURPLE VEGETABLES category – 5) Beets. Blue and purple produce are rich in phytonutrients, including anthocyanins and resveratrol, and have been studied extensively for their anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. Anthocyanins act as a powerful antioxidant protecting cells from damage. Many red and pink vegetables are also rich in anthocyanins; but the darker the blue/purple hue, the higher the phytochemical concentration. * see note below if your pet has a history of calcium-oxalate stones


Beet profile: Beetroot has a moderate level of starch and carbohydrates in comparison to other vegetables. In addition to providing starch for energy, beetroot is particularly high in folate, magnesium, and potassium.


So, to summarize, some healthy additions to your pet’s diet include:

Carrots

Sweet Potatoe

Spinach

Broccoli

Beets


As mentioned, it is VERY important to properly prepare these vegetables to make them easily digestible and avoid the risk of GI upset or loose stool.


A few notes:

Organic produce is definitely encouraged if you can. If organic produce is not available to you, washing it very well will help reduce the risk of contaminants.


*Vegetables that should be avoided or used in moderation:

Vegetables in the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and white potato. These vegetables contain solanine – and can exacerbate inflammation. Definitely avoid these with any dog with arthritis, with a history of GI distress or food intolerance.


Some suggest that vegetables from the Brassica family should be used in moderation in dogs with thyroid disease. It does not mean they need to be avoided altogether, they can still be used up to 3 times a week, as their anti-cancer benefits are so great.


If your dog has had a history of calcium-oxalate stones, foods high in oxalates such as spinach, beetroot, sweet potatoe, and any high-sodium foods.


Up next – how to properly prepare these vegetables for dogs!


[1] [2] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cancer-fighting-foods#section1