Whether you make your dog’s dinner from scratch or you just want to spoil her with an unusual treat from time to time, it pays to learn about some of the best vegetables for dogs.
Most people tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the best meat proteins for their dog (and rightly so), but dogs are omnivores who benefit from a varied diet that includes several different kinds of foods – including vegetables.
But you have to be careful when picking vegetables for your pooch, as some are poisonous or otherwise unsuitable for canines. Avoid these types of problems by sticking to the nine vegetables detailed below. Each one is not only safe, but nutritious too.
Best Vegetables for Dogs: Canine-Friendly Veggies
The nine vegetables below are all great options for your pet. Try a few as occasional treats for your dog and let us know what your pooch thinks!
Carrots are awesome vegetables for dogs. They’re incorporated into a number of commercial dog foods, and they are easy to add to your dog’s home-cooked food too for a balanced diet.
Carrots are full of Vitamin A (like with other vegetables, the Vitamin A is provided in the form of Beta Carotene, so you don’t have to worry about Vitamin A toxicity) and they also provide a pretty good helping of Vitamin K and fiber.
In fact, you can even give your dog carrot juice as something to drink besides water if you’re looking to give them some vitamin-packed hydration or mix carrot juice with their daily kibble allotment to soften it up and add some extra taste with added health benefits. Chilled grated carrots make a refreshing snack on a hot day too.
I like to use raw carrots as low-calorie treats for my pup. I go to the farmer’s market, grab the biggest carrot I can find, wash it, cut off the stalk end, peel off anything gross, and give it to my 90-pound Rottie. She’ll then chew on it for hours before getting bored and hiding it somewhere (I throw the carrot carcass away after a single “use”). You can also use baby carrots as healthy treats when your pup is on a diet.
2. Green Beans
Green beans are full of manganese, Vitamins A, C, K, and several in the B-complex, and a not-insignificant amount of protein, so they’re a great dietary item for dogs. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber and can be useful in firming up your dog’s poop (although the poops may be a greenish-blue color).
Most dogs seem to like the way green beans taste, and they’re easy to cook – just steam or boil them until they soften. Opt for frozen or raw green beans rather than canned varieties to ensure you aren’t giving your pet a ton of salt. Most dogs will accept green beans tossed to them as a tasty treat, but you can also incorporate them into homemade dog food recipes or add them to commercial dog food.
Snow peas, sugar peas, English peas, and snap peas are all great vegetables for dogs. Peas are an excellent source of protein, fiber, folic acid, and a ton of vitamins, including most of the B-complex vitamins, as well as Vitamins A, C, and K. As with green beans, you’ll want to skip the canned varieties and select raw or frozen ones. Just steam them for a few minutes and serve. Chilled peas also make a delicious summer treat since they’re cool, easy to eat, and contain palate-pleasing natural sugars.
Peas are great for boosting the protein content of a homemade dog food, although you should note that your dog won’t be able to absorb plant-based proteins as well as she can animal-based proteins. So, don’t use peas as a way of skimping on the meat – just use peas as a supplemental protein source.
Just note that while peas aren’t “toxic,” grain-free dog foods containing them (and other legumes) have been linked to heart health issues in canines, so we recommend checking with your vet before incorporating peas into your dog’s diet regularly.
Celery seems like nothing more than water and fiber, but this isn’t really the case. In fact, celery is a solid source of vitamins, including Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as several B-complex vitamins. And although it does have some fiber, it actually isn’t as fiber-packed as you may think. Mistaken impressions aside, celery is an excellent treat for dogs.
Many dogs seem to like the way celery sticks “burst” with water as they nom on its crunchy texture. Some pet parents even think that celery improves puppy breath, but we’ll leave that for you to decide. Just wash the celery before giving it to your dog – there’s no need to cook it (although your pup wouldn’t mind you slathering it with a bit of peanut butter). Serve in long sticks to chew or cut into bite-sized pieces for a quick snack.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Although most dogs probably aren’t terribly interested in a serving of brussels sprouts, they are healthy, dog-friendly vegetables with numerous nutritional benefits. They have a lot of fiber and nutrients, including Vitamins A, C, K, and several members of the B-complex group. Steaming is probably the best way to prepare brussels sprouts, but any oil-free cooking method will work.
Just be aware that like most other cruciferous vegetables (including cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage), brussels sprouts can make your pooch extremely gassy. That’s not really a problem for your dog (as long as your pet doesn’t have any trouble expelling the gas – otherwise it could cause stomach pain), but it’ll make you want to evacuate your home. Stick to a small portion size of brussels sprouts to avoid stomach issues.
6. White Potatoes
Many dogs love potatoes (who can blame them?), and they’re incorporated into a number of pet foods – including commercial and homemade varieties. Admittedly, potatoes don’t seem like a “real” vegetable (culinarily, they’re usually used as starches rather than vegetables), but your dog doesn’t care about any of that. She’ll just love the taste of these root vegetables.
Although they aren’t as nutritious as some of the other vegetables on this list, potatoes do have some Vitamin C and a bit of Vitamin B6. As long as you prepare them sensibly (just cut ‘em up and boil them – don’t feed your dog raw potatoes or potato chips) and use them in moderation (they can cause insulin spikes), they won’t cause any problems.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes (or yams, as some people call them) provide some seriously great nutritional value for dogs. Sweet potatoes are rich in just about every Vitamin your dog needs, aside from Vitamin D, and they’re an excellent source of fiber for healthy digestion. Also, they won’t cause your dog’s blood sugar to spike the way white potatoes will.
Most dogs love the way sweet potatoes taste, and they’re incorporated into a ton of commercial dog foods (particularly grain-free recipes). You’ll want to cut them up and boil them before serving them to your dog in a vegetable mash or cooked pieces. You should also refrain from adding any salt, seasonings, or fats to avoid stomach upset.
Another cruciferous vegetable that’ll turn your dog into a fart factory if you aren’t careful, broccoli is a healthy vegetable that you can give your dog. Just don’t give your dog too much broccoli, as it can cause an upset stomach (aside from the gas, which is more of a problem for you than your dog).
Be sure to cut broccoli up into pretty small pieces, as the stalks can choke some dogs – particularly smaller pooches. Stick to small broccoli florets for healthy snacks.
You can give your dog raw broccoli, but she’ll digest it more readily (and probably appreciate the taste more) if you boil or steam it for a few minutes. Broccoli is full of all the good stuff your dog needs, including most of the important vitamins.
I don’t want to hear it, nerds. I know pumpkin is a fruit — so are green beans and peas, but you didn’t say anything then, did ya? Pumpkin is clearly a vegetable in the culinary sense of the word, so let’s just move on.
Technicalities aside, pumpkin is a fantastic “vegetable” for your dog. It is full of antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamins A and C. And pumpkin is also helpful for dogs who are suffering from diarrhea, as its fiber content can help firm up loose stools.
To prepare pumpkin for your punkin’, cut it into cubes and boil it. The cooked seeds are also safe for your dog. Pureed pumpkin and canned pumpkin are dog-safe options as long as there are no added spices, flavorings, or fats. You can also serve chilled pumpkin mash for a dog-friendly treat on a hot summer day.
Caution: Vegetables to Avoid or Limit
We are primarily focusing on good vegetables today, but we wanted to take a quick moment to discuss bad vegetables too. Some of these aren’t really dangerous in small amounts, and others will usually only cause digestive upset, but there are a few that may put your dog’s life in jeopardy.
In any case, there are hundreds of things you can give your dog that are safe and tasty, so there’s really no point in pushing your luck. Just steer clear of those listed below.
- Spinach – This leafy vegetable isn’t dangerous in small amounts, but spinach is full of oxalic acid, which can cause kidney problems over time. This is one veggie we’d skip to avoid issues.
- Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives – All of these vegetables are members of the plant genus Allium. These vegetables all contain organosulfur compounds that are toxic to dogs. In very small amounts these vegetables may be acceptable (many dog foods contain small amounts of garlic, for example), but some breeds (particularly Akitas and other Japanese breeds) are especially vulnerable to these vegetables.
- Lettuce – Lettuces aren’t technically toxic to dogs, but most will cause diarrhea. And lettuces – especially iceberg – don’t really provide any nutritional value anyway, so just skip them.
- Tomatoes – Ripe tomatoes (which are technically a fruit) are not going to sicken your dog in small quantities, but they’re really acidic, and too many will likely upset your pup’s tummy. Additionally, tomatoes require caution, as all green portions of tomato plants – including the stem – are toxic.
- Mushroom – Technically, mushrooms aren’t a true vegetable, but these edible fungi are often lumped in with them, so they warrant mentioning. Grocery store mushrooms like buttons and portobellos aren’t an issue for dogs, but if you encounter a wild mushroom on a walk, keep your doggo away! Toxic mushrooms grow throughout the United States and Canada, making vigilance a must to prevent your dog from ingesting one. Signs of mushroom poisoning include vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea. If you suspect your dog has eaten any mushroom while out on a walk, it’s best to call the vet.
Why Give Your Dog Vegetables?
With all this veggie talk, you might be wondering why you’d give your dog vegetables anyway. Your sniffer eats a balanced dry dog food, and there are countless pre-made pup snacks you can buy, right?
Feeding vegetables can benefit your dog in many ways, including:
- Enrichment – Trying new dog-friendly vegetables spices up traditional canine diets that can be a tad tiresome over time. Your pup might not like every vegetable you offer, but he’s getting to sample something new and interesting each time. It’s a sensory delight, including tasting, feeling, and smelling a brand new food item. To up the ante, add pureed vegetables mixed in your dog’s food like a savory stew or incorporate vegetables into your dog’s frozen treats.
- Sensible snacking – Dogs love treats, but packaged cookies often contain a lot of calories that can lead to weight gain. They also sometimes contain ingredients that don’t sit well with sensitive systems. A fresh vegetable makes an excellent low-calorie snack without a long list of ingredients to read over. They also seem like people food in your dog’s eyes, making them extra tasty.
- Boosting vitamins – Vegetables are a great source of nutrients, including iron, loads of vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and more. Eating them can aid in everything from digestive health to warding off cell damage, which makes them the perfect snack for canine wellness.
- Aiding in portion control and weight loss – Offering dog-safe vegetables along with your pup’s dry dog food is a sneaky way to bulk up his bowl without significantly upping his daily calorie intake. This is super helpful if your four-footer is on a weight-loss journey and eating a little less kibble than he’s used to.
Note that some dogs have more vegetable-friendly palates than others, so don’t feel bad if your dog politely declines the greens and roots you offer. As long as your dog eats a nutritionally balanced food that meets the AAFCO guidelines for her life stage, she won’t need any extra vegetables in her daily diet.
Excited about the idea of cooking up fresh veggies for your pup? You may want to consider grabbing a dog cookbook for more recipe inspiration!
Just try to experiment with the different ones on this list if you really want your dog to get more vegetables in her diet. Which vegetables does your dog like best? Let us know her preferences in the comments below!