Vegetables are on the table in most households every day and many dogs even like them quite a lot. Few turn away in disgust when offered a piece of vegetable. But are dogs carnivores or do vegetables also belong on their menu?
Vegetables A Dog Can Eat – Can dogs eat vegetables?
Vegetables are healthy and necessary for dogs. There are some vegetables that you are not allowed to eat and a great many that are good for you. Some vegetables are unsuitable raw as dog food.
Below you can find our list of which vegetables are allowed. Medicinal plants and herbs should only be fed to knowledgeable dog owners.
But aren’t dogs carnivores?
Opinions can differ on this question and heated discussions among dog owners can arise. To decide whether vegetables are suitable for fair dog nutrition, one can first look at the ancestor of all domestic dogs – namely the wolf in the wild.
A wild wolf feeds primarily on the meat of its prey. But occasionally he is denied hunting success and has no choice but to pluck a few leaves of a green herb from the ground or dig up a reasonably edible root when there is no ripe fruit to pick.
The different types of vegetables contain many nutrients that wolves and dogs are also good for. In contrast to big cats, the wolf – and therefore the dog – is not a carnivore.
Rather, wolves and dogs are omnivores.
Only their ability to digest grain is limited because their digestive organs are not well prepared for it.
You may have seen your dog nibble grass before, as almost all dogs do this occasionally. Quite a few experts are even convinced that dogs eat grass when they want to improve their mineral balance or get fiber to stimulate their digestion.
What you have probably already seen or at least heard is that green rumen dogs taste particularly good, although most people find the smell not very appetizing.
If you take a closer look at what green rumen is, it may be a little clearer how it relates to vegetables and dog nutrition:
The green rumen is the uncleaned stomach of a cow. The green fibers are the pre-digested remnants of the herbivore’s last meal. This means that the digestive process had already started and some of the plant fibers had already broken down.
Consuming vegetables in this form corresponds absolutely to a natural and species-appropriate diet for dogs.
So if you want to give your dog vegetables, it is your job to make sure that the vegetables are not completely raw. It is better to imitate the slightly pre-digested state by cooking or chopping the vegetables.
Why is raw vegetable fiber difficult for dogs to digest?
The plant cell structure is almost always based on cellulose. The cellulose in the cell walls can only be broken down by a specific enzyme. The digestive system of dogs does not have this enzyme. Cellulases, for example, make mushrooms that can break down wood.
Humans cannot digest cellulose any more than dogs or wolves.
Most herbivores compensate for this deficiency with the help of their particularly long intestinal tract. Inside there are fungi and bacteria that can break down cellulose. This usually takes a little longer and leads to significant gas formation, which is very easy to see in cows.
Dogs have a very short intestine that allows them to digest raw meat without exposing themselves to the risk of infection. The length of time your food stays in the organism is too short for most germs to be able to spread.
As a result, dogs can digest raw meat very well and raw vegetables accordingly less.
Cooking, stewing, chopping, or pureeing?
Destroying the plant cell structure so that the nutrients can be better absorbed by the digestion is in principle possible by cooking and chopping. Depending on the type of vegetable, one method is better than the other.
For example, while you shouldn’t feed your cabbage vegetables raw, lettuce is not necessarily suitable for cooking (see below). You can chop or puree it better.
Some vegetables should not be fed raw at all. All vegetables containing solan, such as potatoes or green peppers, should best be boiled in water for feeding. In addition, many vegetables contain starch compounds that are indigestible raw and can lead to severe flatulence.
It is also better to give your dog these vegetables only cooked. The starch is converted into sugar, which is easier to digest. Potatoes also belong to this group.
How to prepare vegetables properly for dogs
If you give your dog vegetables, you should make sure that he always gets some fat. Many vitamins are fat-soluble. This means that your four-legged friend cannot use it without fat.
If you serve vegetables as a side dish to a meat portion, the meat itself will usually already contain some fat. Otherwise, a spoonful of high-quality oil (e.g. cold-pressed rapeseed or linseed oil), which is always a useful addition to the feed, helps.
In principle, spices are not necessary for dogs and very salty or spicy foods are not good for them. If you want to make it easy for yourself to prepare vegetables for your dog in everyday kitchen life, then you can always cook a little more vegetables when you prepare your food.
You then only need to take away a hundred generations before you season your vegetables.
List of vegetables
The cabbage family includes such popular varieties as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, Acauliflower, and the decorative romanesco, all of which are healthy for dogs. With cabbage, it is always better to feed it boiled or steamed, because all types of cabbage are quite difficult to digest raw.
This is especially true for leafy cabbage such as kale, white cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and pointed cabbage. These types of cabbage contain very long fibers that are pure fiber and lead to excessive gas formation in the digestive tract.
You may be familiar with the method of feeding sauerkraut when a dog accidentally swallows an object.
The long cabbage fibers can enclose foreign bodies in the intestines and, because they are excreted almost undigested, ensure that objects leave the digestive tract of a dog without damage.
If you give your dog red or white cabbage, it is better not to eat raw and only in small portions. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using it specifically to stimulate digestion.
The botanical family of the nightshade family contains some very widespread types of vegetables, which at first glance one would not assume any relationship at all: potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, and even some berries are nightshade family.
They all contain solanine, which is toxic. In particular, it is better not to feed green parts of the plant at all. You can cut off green areas on potatoes and tomatoes, it is best not to give your darling green tomatoes or peppers at all.
Potatoes from the grocery store don’t contain so much solanine that poisoning could result. Nevertheless, it is advisable to first peel the potatoes, then boil them, and then dispose of the cooking water.
Solanine is heat-stable, but part of it goes into the water when it is boiled.
Eggplants don’t necessarily belong in the dog bowl. If you drop a piece of eggplant or if your dog has successfully begged a bite from your meal, it will not take any serious harm.
However, because of their solanine content, which is only lost by itself in overripe specimens, eggplants are not recommended dog food even when cooked.
Leaf salads such as iceberg lettuce, lettuce, Lollo Biondo, and Rosso can be given to your dog chopped or pureed with liquid. He may not like the bitter varieties of endive, radicchio, oak leaf salad, and chicory because of their taste.
The bitter substances in lettuce plants can be harmful in large quantities. Consumed in moderation, however, they are healthy because they stimulate digestion.
In addition to pumpkins, the cucurbits also include cucumbers, melons, and zucchini. These vegetables are good food for dogs. It’s better to feed pumpkins only cooked because of their starch content.
All cucurbits can contain poisonous bitter substances (cucurbitacins). Cucurbitacins cannot be rendered harmless by heating.
To make sure that a pumpkin plant does not contain a large amount of dangerous bitter substances, you can only try a small piece to find out whether it tastes bitter.
If cucumber, zucchini, or pumpkin taste bitter, then you, unfortunately, have no choice but to dispose of the vegetables directly. Pumpkins, cucumbers, or zucchini from your garden are, particularly at risk.
Common crops used for food production are cultivars that contain very little of the harmful bitter substances.
You cannot necessarily assume this is the case with home-grown vegetables and backcrosses that arise when a gardener collects his seeds can contain a lot of cucurbitacins.
Carrots, parsnips, black salsify, sweet potatoes, celery, and parsley roots grow in the ground, which you can serve your dog in small portions without any problems. All root vegetables are difficult to digest raw because of the starch they contain.
You can, for example, use them as a source of fiber in a targeted manner.
All root vegetables are easy to digest for dogs when cooked. Your four-legged friend may not like the strong taste of celery and parsley root that much. The typical taste is based on the high content of essential oils, which have a beneficial effect on digestion and the respiratory tract.
It is better to feed such vegetables only in small rations because too many of them can have undesirable side effects.
Be careful with herbs
Herbs are not that easy to use in the feed kitchen. Almost all herbs that are popular for seasoning foods also have medicinal properties. This effect is often dose-dependent, and a little too much of some herbs can be harmful.
This even applies to supposedly harmless plants such as parsley, chives, or sage.
Since your dog will not be noticed negatively if his food does not contain aromatic herbs, you can simply leave them out if in doubt. If you want to use herbs on purpose because of their medicinal effects, then you will also be aware of the correct dosage in individual cases.
Garlic, onion, and avocados are poisonous
Garlic, onions, and avocados shouldn’t be given to your dog at all. Of course, there is garlic powder, for example, which is supposed to keep ticks away from dogs. In such preparations, however, the active ingredient is available in a standardized form.
In natural vegetables, the active ingredient content fluctuates and both onions and garlic can cause poisoning in very small amounts.
Puppies and small dogs in particular must therefore not have the opportunity to devour foods with onions or garlic.
Vegetables with side effects
Some vegetables that dogs can enjoy have medicinal benefits. Fennel, for example, has a stimulating effect on the whole, but especially on digestion. It also helps against respiratory diseases.
Asparagus has a strong dehydrating effect. Because of its long fibers, you should only feed it cut into small pieces.
Artichokes also have a stimulating effect on the digestive organs and are also said to promote fat burning and lower cholesterol levels.
Sharp roots like radish or radish also help against colds but should be set carefully, even if a dog they like to like. The mustard oil it contains can otherwise cause stomach and digestive problems.
How Healthy Are Legumes For Dogs?
If you want to offer your dog a little variety of food, you can occasionally feed boiled legumes instead of vegetables. They are all poisonous raw, but there is nothing wrong with boiled beans, peas, or lentils because they contain valuable proteins and minerals.
The peels of legumes are indigestible and therefore famous for their gas-generating effect in the digestive tract. If you want to prevent this, you can puree cooked legumes to a pulp.
No dog food without vegetables
Because vegetables are part of a healthy dog diet, there is hardly any finished food without vegetables. Especially carrots, potatoes, and zucchini can be found in many preparations.
Purely vegetarian or vegan ready-made food mostly consists of legumes as a protein source and added vegetables such as the canned food Green Vegan with red lentils, lupins, chard, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables.
Omnivores also need vegetables
If you want to feed your dog healthy and appropriate to the species, vegetables should regularly be in his bowl. It contains important vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
If a dog gets meat, it always needs little vegetables as a source of minerals and fiber.
Dogs who don’t like vegetables tend to be the exception. Most dogs like to take some vegetables from their owners. Of course, there are individual likes and dislikes.
Almost all dogs like mild, sweet carrots. But some four-legged friends also love peppers and celery. Your dog will surely tell you what you can do to make him happy.