It’s all fun and frolic until you realize you’re not just watering a plant, you’re feeding a dog. And there are rules about this stuff. “Never this. Sometimes that. Maybe this…if that.” So exactly what can dogs eat? And specifically, what fruits and vegetables can dogs eat?
Dogs may love their meat, but they are actually omnivores, meaning they are equipped to digest both meat and plant food sources.
Here are a few key points for understanding dogs as omnivores and not just carnivores:
- Dogs have teeth that can both grind down bone and chew up plant matter.
- A dog’s intestine is adapted for digesting both meat and plants. Compare that to cats, whose short intestines make them dedicated carnivores.
- Dogs are capable of converting beta-carotene from plants to vitamin A, an essential vitamin for their health.
- Although grains are one of the primary culprits in dog allergies, dogs, like their Lobo ancestors, are equipped to eat and digest them.
Planning your dog’s diet is a complex, often evolving process.
If you are a health-nut when it comes to your own diet, it’s only natural that you would ask, What fruits and vegetables can dogs eat? Can we share the same produce from the grocery store?
Whatever you, your vet, and your always-down-for-chow doggo decide is the best diet, it’s always good to know what’s safe and what’s not.
Can dogs eat bananas? Can dogs eat grapes? Can dogs eat carrots, tomatoes, avocados, watermelon, cucumbers?
As you start thinking of all the plant-based foods in your kitchen, you may instinctively see “healthy snacks” in your dog’s future.
But not everything that’s good for you is good for your dog.
Fiber- and essential fat-rich avocados, for example, contain persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in canines.
And cherries, except for the small, fleshy part, contain cyanide, which disrupts cellular oxygen transport in dogs.
Perhaps the most widely known no-no fruit is grapes (and their dried derivatives, raisins). Grapes are so toxic to dogs that they can lead to acute sudden kidney failure.
Never, never, never. Not even “just this once.” Just…no.
Likewise, in the veggie aisle…onions, leeks, and chives are also a big no, as they can cause red blood cell rupture and anemia.
It’s a good idea to keep a list of foods that are safe and unsafe for dogs handy and visible for everyone in your home.
Especially if you have children, you will need to make sure everyone understands the rules for feeding Fido.
A list of Yes/Sometimes/In Moderation/Never posted on the fridge is a quick and easy way for everyone to double-check their good intentions.
So what fruits and vegetables can dogs eat?
Here is a green-light list of some of the most common plant-based foods you probably have at home:
- Apples (minus seeds and core): High in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, and low in protein and fat, apples are a great snack choice.
- Bananas: High in fiber, vitamins, potassium, biotin, and copper, bananas are a canine fav. The natural sugar content in bananas and several other fruits put these on the “In Moderation” list.
- Blueberries: Go for it! Blueberries are a fiber- and vitamin-rich antioxidant superfood for humans and dogs alike.
- Mango: As with any pitted fruit, be sure to remove the pit, as pits contain cyanide. Otherwise, this tasty fruit is packed with vitamins and both beta- and alpha-carotene.
- Oranges (skin and seeds removed)
- Peaches (fresh, not canned, and pits removed): Try frozen peach pieces for a cool summer treat.
- Pumpkin: Real pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) is a good staple to keep on-hand. It’s fiber-rich, contains essential micronutrients, and is soothing to the digestive tract. It’s reverently called “the great equalizer” for its neutralizing effect on both diarrhea and constipation.
- Raspberries: These tasty berries are especially friendly to senior dogs because of their anti-inflammatory ingredients.
- Strawberries: Fiber, vitamin C, and an enzyme that helps keep Perla’s pearlies nice and white. Just feed in moderation due to the sugar content.
- Watermelon (rind and seeds removed)
- Beets: These tubers are a great boost for your dog’s digestive and immune systems. They’re loaded with pixie-dust powers and also help the skin and coat to stay healthy.
- Broccoli: Serve up the nutrient-rich florets as an occasional snack or cook/steam for a small side (less than 10%) of a meal. As good as this cruciferous veggie is as a health food, it contains isothiocyanates, which can be toxic at higher levels.
- Brussels sprouts: Why do the best things always have a downside? These power-packed veggies can cause gassiness, so feed in moderation.
- Cauliflower: Low calorie, antioxidant- and nutrient-rich. Just feed unseasoned, in low to moderate amounts to avoid tummy upset from all the fiber.
- Green beans: Great for dogs who need to shed some pounds. Try sauteing or steaming to soften the texture and make digestion easier.
- Spinach: As all-around healthful as spinach seems to be, the oxalic acid in it can block calcium absorption and lead to kidney failure. Feed occasionally, if at all.
- Squash (seeds removed)
- Sweet potatoes (cooked, of course): Considered a whole superfood, these beta-carotene-loaded tubers are jam-packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Boil and mash for a meal additive or slice and dehydrate for a yummy, low-cal snack.
It’s not enough to answer What fruits and vegetables can dogs eat? without adding a cautionary list of what they can’t eat.
What fruits and vegetables are unsafe for dogs to eat?
Here are a few NO’s when it comes to feeding your dog fruits and vegetables:
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions, leeks, garlic, chives: These Allium family plant foods are considered unsafe for dogs because of the risk of anemia. Note that you will inevitably come across preventative recipes (e.g. for DIY flea and tick remedies) that incorporate a minimal amount of garlic. The better-safe-than-sorry rule of thumb is to “just not risk it.” But consult your vet, holistic vet, or veterinarian nutritionist before incorporating garlic into your dog’s regimen.
- Pits: Fruit pits contain toxins like cyanide and should always be removed before feeding the fruit to your dog.
- Tomatoes/tomato plant
While these lists aren’t exhaustive, they cover most of the fruits and vegetables commonly found in American kitchens. Download our free checklist for the fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and people foods that are safe or unsafe for dogs.
When it comes to feeding fresh foods to Fido, remember that good intentions and human standards aren’t enough to go on.
As much as we treat our canine companions as family members, our job as their guardians is to honor their differences.