Are Leafy Vegetables Advisable for Dogs?

by Amy Brantley
    Some leafy vegetables can be beneficial to your pet's health.

    Some leafy vegetables can be beneficial to your pet's health.

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    Dog owners are putting more effort into what they feed their pets. Not only do we check labels to ensure our dog's food contains healthy ingredients and the food is balanced, we even spend time considering human foods before we toss over a scrap. The fact is, even some natural, unprocessed human foods are toxic to dogs. But leafy vegetables are actually a good addition to your dog's diet.

    It's a common misconception that dogs are carnivores. Ancestors of the domestic dog ate fruits and plants when meat was scarce. In other words, early canines adapted to what was available to them. When dogs became domesticated they adapted to eating grains, but vegetables are still a very healthy addition to a dog's diet. When you're choosing or making a dog's diet, remember that balance is key. According to The Whole Dog Journal website, your dog needs protein and carbohydrates, along with fruits and vegetables, to be healthy.

    Greens, spinach and lettuces are a wonderful addition to your dog's diet. However, you can also add broccoli and cabbage. It depends on what your dog will enjoy to eat. The good thing is that most dogs find many vegetables tasty and you'll have no problem getting them to eat them as treats or parts of their meals.

    Leafy vegetables contain a variety of essential nutrients including calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphate and omega fatty acids. The exact nutrients will vary from vegetable to vegetable. For example, spinach is high in calcium, fiber and iron. However, vegetables can improve the immune system and reduce odors, and raw vegetables can help keep the teeth cleaner and improve the dog's breath.

    According to Dr. Kristie Leong of The Real Dog Owner website, a dog's diet should consist of 20 percent vegetables. If incorporating vegetables is a new thing for you and Fido, slowly add samples into the mix to prevent stomach issues. Try giving your dog a piece of raw broccoli to chew on as a treat, or stir in no more than a couple tablespoons of cooked spinach. Avoid serving seasoned vegetables to your dog. Try to cook fresh vegetables rather than frozen or canned, which may be loaded with sodium. If your dog doesn't take to eating veggies but you don't want to dismiss the idea completely, run the veggies through the processor and mix the puree into the dog's food. Ultimately you'll add a bit to the amount you feed at intervals several days apart, checking constantly for signs of upset stomach until the dog's diet is about 20 percent veggies. You'll want to ensure his base food isn't vegetable-laden, to avoid overfeeding the dog.

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    About the Author

    Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.

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