You probably don’t think of fruits being a part of dogs’ diets. However, they do play an important role because most dog foods are deficient in certain vital nutrients that dogs need.
Advocates for kibble-based diets and raw feeders both make this mistake. One trusts too much in the nutritional content of processed foods, while the other treats dogs as being carnivorous by nature.
However, dogs have an omnivorous diet and benefit from fruits and vegetables, as long as they receive these items in appropriate amounts. The fruits and veggies you can feed your dogs are sure to give them an extra interest in their food.
Fruits and Vegetables Have Proven Nutritional Benefits For Dogs
When dogs eat the orange, yellow, or green leafy vegetables three times a week, there is a 70 to 90% reduction in their cancer risk. Vitamins in supplement form do not provide the same level of nutrition as the vegetables themselves.
Another benefit of providing your dog with extra nutrition in the form of vegetables is aiding faster bone growth. Fast bone growth is especially significant for larger breeds.
Vegetables Provide Dog With A Great Source Of Fiber
Raw vegetables are a source of fiber that remains mostly undigested as it passes through dogs’ intestines. The bacteria living in the intestines helps the fiber to ferment.
Once fermented, the fiber turns into short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs. The benefits that SCFAs offer include protecting the mucus lining the gut, building immune cells, and creating energy.
Some additional benefits fiber provides for dogs include:
- Creating a feeling of fullness for dogs who overeat
- Clearing toxins from the body
- Promoting gut health and feeding healthy bacteria
- Providing necessary antioxidants
- Binding to substances that cause cancer to prevent further growth
Natural, plant-based fiber from fruits and vegetables is always preferable to processed fiber. Although kibble-based foods have fiber content, it is usually lesser quality because it has been processed.
Fruits and Vegetables Provide Dogs With Antioxidants
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of antioxidants, which provide protection against free radicals. The definition of a free radical is an unstable radical that contributes to the aging process. Free radicals cause damage in organs and cells by building up in the body.
Antioxidants play a significant role both in keeping free radicals from getting out of control and being a stabilizing force against the free radicals. Fruits and vegetables are the only sources of antioxidants.
Making sure your dog eats foods that contain antioxidants is an excellent way to help prevent cancer, which is very common in some breeds. Because antioxidants also contribute to a more robust immune system, a potent antioxidant intake will make your dog healthier in the long run.
Fruit Contains Enzymes The Helps Dogs’ Digestion
Unique proteins known as enzymes are responsible for metabolic processes, as well as digestion. Papaya and pineapple are both enzyme-rich, with papaya, including papain and pineapple, including bromelain.
Enzymes such as these pass into the intestines quickly because of their ability to withstand stomach acid. The proteins are good for overall health, as well as stopping damage related to degeneration and aging.
Vegetables Contain Phytonutrients
Vegetables are the sole source of phytonutrients, which are one of the most essential nutrients for your dog. Dogs with meat-based diets are lacking in these nutrients.
Some of the things that phytonutrients can do for your dog include:
- Supporting liver health
- Promoting intestinal health
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Destroying cancer cells
The strongest phytonutrients sources include kale, broccoli, apples with the skin, and berries. Diets that include only meat or kibble will not contain these nutrients.
Dogs Get Minerals and Vitamins in Fruit and Vegetables
Leafy green, dark vegetables contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Seaweed and alfalfa also contain mineral content. In the case of seaweed, nutrients, and micronutrients from the earth end up washed into the sea.
Alfalfa absorbs nutrients from the earth, with roots that can go down 40 feet. To ensure maximum nutritional benefit, make sure the alfalfa is organic.
Vitamins that are present in vegetables and fruit include:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins (although fruit and vegetables are low in B1 and B12)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Apples are high in Vitamins A and C, an excellent fiber source, and low in fat and protein.
Oranges have high Vitamin C content, with large dogs being able to easily eat an entire orange. Small dogs can eat a quarter or a half orange. Avoid allowing your dog to eat either the skin or the seeds.
Some of the fruits and vegetables highest in vitamin and mineral content include bananas, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, and carrots. All of these foods are high in fiber. These foods are also high in potassium, benefiting the kidneys, nerves, and muscles.
Blueberries have long enjoyed a reputation as superfoods because of how rich they are in antioxidants. These berries also contain a lot of phytochemicals and fiber. Other berries that are good for dogs include cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries, with Vitamin C and fiber being essential nutrients.
Regardless of which treats you give your dog, they should never account for more than 10% of the calorie count. When you feed your dog the appropriate amounts, he or she will maintain a healthy weight.
Vegetables Can Alkalize Your Dog’s Body
An alkaline environment is vital to organs like kidneys, the heart, the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver. The alkaline foods can reduce the amount of acid in the body, which is essential because too much acid contributes to inflammation.
Examples of alkaline foods include:
- Melons, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew
- Apricots or peaches (minus the pit)
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Sweet Potatoes
Either fresh or canned produce is okay for a dog. However, fresh produce is better, whenever possible.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Hydration
Even though your dog should always have a supply of fresh, clean water, fruits, and vegetables play a crucial role in keeping your dog hydrated. Feeding fruits and vegetables with their regular food or as a treat helps your dog maintain healthy moisture levels even on hot days.
A well-hydrated dog is less likely to have kidney dysfunction or disease. When a dog receives enough water, they are less likely to have painful bladder or kidney stones that could cause blockages.
Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
There are a few foods you should avoid allowing your dog to eat. Currants, grapes, and raisins are considered toxic. In some dogs, they have also been linked to kidney failure. Cherries also have poisonous seeds.
Chives, garlic, and onions are foods that are harmful to dogs in greater amounts. These vegetables can cause anemia in large quantities. When dogs ingest a lot of any of these veggies, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea are possible. Your dog will probably do best if they eat these in small quantities only.
Wild mushrooms can also be toxic. Even though supermarket mushrooms might include species that are not toxic for dogs, you will find it better to avoid feeding your dog mushrooms anyway.
Even though the fleshy part of tomatoes is safe for dogs, the leaves and stems contain solanine, which is toxic in large amounts. You will probably want to avoid tomatoes when you’re giving your dog treats.
Asparagus is a food that you are best avoiding when feeding your dog. This vegetable is tough for a dog to eat raw. Cooking asparagus causes it to lose most of its nutritional value.
Always refrain from allowing your dog to eat fruit or avocado pits or corn cobs. Any of these could get stuck in the dog’s throat or digestive tract.
How to Introduce Fruits and Vegetables To Your Dogs Diet
Even though most dogs love the taste of fruit and vegetables, getting a dog used to these foods at an early age is a good idea. Raw fruits make great alternatives to rawhides and other options that are less healthy. If you should choose to cook the vegetables instead of feeding them raw, consider steaming them to preserve as many of the nutrients as possible.
Another great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your dog’s diet is by choosing minimally processed commercial dog food or treats that are made with them. Jiminy’s offers a wide variety of food and treats for dogs packed with an assortment of fruits and vegetables delivering wholesome nutrition with a taste dogs love.
Don’t Forget the Protein
As you’ve read, fruits and vegetables are an essential component of your dog’s balanced nutrition. But another important aspect dog owners need to be mindful of is protein.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, protein supplies your dog with essential amino acids. These amino acids are necessary for several functions in dogs, including repairing damaged cells, building muscle tissue, and growing hair.
While your dog’s body produces some of the amino acids they need, your dog gets the rest by having a quality source of protein in their daily diet.
Jiminy’s insect protein is a fantastic source of high-quality protein and can be found in all of our dog foods and treats.
Discover more about why Jiminy’s uses insect protein.