Your dog might never share your enthusiasm for arugula salad with Kombucha dressing, but he’ll appreciate perked-up kibble or a yummy veggie stew. Many vegetables are chock-full of dog-friendly nutrients that you can use as part of a healthy homemade canine diet. Cooking softens fibrous veggies and blends flavors.
Tasty veggie choices include leafy greens, green beans, potatoes, carrots, peas and broccoli. Pumpkins and all types of garden squash make great dog food menu items -- you can prepare them in advance and freeze them in individual portions.
Don't add salt or seasonings to the vegetables. Rover doesn’t like them and some are downright unhealthy for him. Veterinarian David McCluggage, who runs WellVet.com, tells dog owners that each meal should be 25-50 percent meat protein; the rest should be mostly vegetables. You can add cooked white rice or healthy whole grains if you’re not combining the vegetables with commercial dog food. Always allow cooked foods to cool to room temperature before serving them to your dog.
Boiling is the simplest cooking method, but overcooking destroys some of the vitamins. Use only enough water to cover a pot of veggie chunks, bring them to a boil and simmer just until the pieces are crisp-tender. That usually takes about 15 minutes for 1-inch chunks of carrots, less for peas and green beans. Strain the veggies but save the water; it’s full of nutrients. Once it cools, you can use it to soften dry commercial dog food or let your dog drink it.
Don’t throw that Halloween pumpkin out. Pumpkins and squashes make excellent veggie fare, and if you bake them, preparation is a snap. Cut a whole pumpkin or squash in half and place the cut sides down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Once cool, it’s simple to scoop out the seeds and peel off the thick skin. Cut the flesh of the pumpkin or squash into chunks and freeze them for later use.
While most veggies are good for dogs, avoid onions, avocados, garlic and chives, which can trigger stomach irritation and become toxic when consumed in large amounts. Go easy on corn, it’s actually a grain, not a vegetable, and commercial dog food manufacturers already use it in large amounts as cheap filler. No sense in adding more.
- WellVet.com: Feeding Your Dog
- Canine and Feline Nutrition – A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals; Linda P. Case, M.S.
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