Fruits and Vegetables in your Dog’s Food

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imageIn recent posts, we have written about the importance and sources of the macro nutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrates—in dog food.  Today we continue our analysis of some of the other key ingredient groups that are common in commercially available dog food, starting with fruits and vegetables.

No Dessert Unless You Finish your Veggies

For years, humans have been encouraged to eat plentiful amounts of fruits and vegetables each day.  The reason?  Fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-oxidants and other beneficial components including vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber.  They may help us fight off disease, improve organ health, maintain a healthy weight, and lengthen our lives.  The same may be true for dogs.

Dogs are descendants of the carnivore wolf and thus are meat eaters by nature.  Their ancestral diet most likely consisted of meat and fish with a small amount of fruits and vegetables that were found in the stomachs of their prey or that were easily accessible when meat sources were limited.  Their longstanding relationship with humans has helped them evolve to a more omnivorous lifestyle and with a few exceptions (e.g., grapes, raisins and onions), fruits and vegetables, while not a required part of a healthy dog diet, can still provide similar health benefits to dogs as they do for humans.

Why Include Fruits and Vegetables in Dog Food?

Although fruits and vegetables are usually secondary ingredients in commercially available dog food, they can provide some key benefits nonetheless including:

  • They are a relatively low calorie source of fiber and vitamins
  • They are a relatively low calorie way to add sweetness to the food (more on sweeteners in a future post)
  • They contain antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and possibly reduce the risk of some cancers.  Dr Knapp, a veterinarian oncologist at Prude University found that serving dogs vegetables at least three times a week reduced the risk of bladder cancer by 70%.
  • They can be an additional source of water (in the canned foods), which can be especially important in the summer months.

Jack eyeing some fruits & vegetables...or is it that bully stick?

Jack eyeing some fruits & vegetables…or is it that bully stick?

Bottom Line on Fruits and Veggies

In our view, fruits and veggies can offer your dog added nutritional value.  Because they are often secondary ingredients in most dog food, we don’t recommend choosing your dog food based on the fact that a specific food contains a long list of fruits and vegetables.  Instead, consider them “nice to have” ingredients that are preferable to grain and artificial ingredients.  To get the most of their numerous benefits, consider supplementing your food and treat regimen with produce purchased at the grocery store.  We add fruits and veggies to our dog’s meals and use them as treats as well to help keep our dogs slim, trim, and healthy.

What are your dog’s favorite fruits or veggies?  Which ones won’t they eat?  Let us know in the comments!


We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:

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  1. That photo is great – love the bully stick in there! I like fruit and have bananas with my breakfast every day. My sister loves fruits and veggies…whatever Mom gives her. I am not so big on veggies, just carry them around all day and guard them.
    emma recently posted…Happy Birthday Mom | GBGV | Mischief MondayMy Profile

  2. I sometimes add a bit of whatever veggies I’ve cooked to Gizmo’s dinner bowl and he’ll eat whatever i add…Broccoli seems to be a favorite of his, which is funny cause I don’t really like it much…Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and spinach go over well, as does avocado and sweet potatoes…neither of us eats bell peppers
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…SMART COOKEE GIVEAWAY ON TASTY TUESDAYMy Profile

  3. Golden LAUGHS on the bully stick in the fruit/veg bowl. Banana is my favorite fruit. I east a banana(s) everyday. Be careful with the avocado. Many are 50/50 on the safety of avocado, its mom favorite but I’m not allowed to have it. Happy Tasty Tuesday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…Watermelon, Summer Fruit You Can Share With Your DogMy Profile

    • I know the avocados are supposedly bad, but we have a mini-orchard in our front yard and even though it’s fenced off, Jack patrols it everyday and manages to steal at least 1-2 a week. They’ve never bothered him and he eats around the pit…so I figure what the heck. As a matter of fact, avocados are all over out here and all of our dogs have eaten them with no apparent ill effects.
      mkob recently posted…Fruits and Vegetables in your Dog’s FoodMy Profile

      • They are now saying the flesh of the avocado is ok, just not the skin and pit. Thank God because Kirby ate lots of avocado before I knew better! LOL!

        • My guys eat avocados all the time…we live in avocado country, they are just there in our yard, on the street. No damage to any of our dogs…even when our Sally would eat the pits. Sometimes she’d throw it up which must have hurt, but otherwise, nothing.
          mkob recently posted…Fruits and Vegetables in your Dog’s FoodMy Profile

  4. The question of whether we should feed our dogs fruits and vegetables comes up a lot in raw food groups – I think it can’t hurt and it’s not causing them any harm. When I switch to making our own raw, I’ll be studying which vegetables are best for our dogs and going for it! I think the antioxidants are great in this chemical ridden world we live in 🙂
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Desire to Help Soldiers’ Dogs and an Understanding of No Kill SheltersMy Profile

  5. Like Gizmo, my dogs get leftover cooked veggies from our meals. When cutting up fruit and veggies – especially now that we drink green smoothies every morning – the dogs are waiting next to me for whatever falls on the floor. Which is most mornings, since I’m not awake enough to make sure everything goes into the blender.

    Our girl, Patches, like fruits and veggies more than the male, Flash. She especially prefers fresh tomatoes and broccoli. Sometimes she’ll even eat tomatoes off the bush in the back yard.

    Nothing really goes to waste here. Between the dogs and the chickens, all our fruits and veggies, scraps and all, are accounted for. Now that we drink green smoothies, a lot of what was waste before goes into the drink. We’re really liking the new lifestyle.
    Flea recently posted…Final Blogaversary GiveawayMy Profile

    • Excellent – that’s got to be so good for your and the rest of the crew! Our guys eat the figs right off the tree – the rest I have to put behind a fence or else that’s all they would do all day…we have a lot of fruit trees – apples, plums, peaches, grapefruit and of course avocados.
      mkob recently posted…Fruits and Vegetables in your Dog’s FoodMy Profile

  6. One of the (many) advantages to having multiple dogs is that if one dog loves a certain food like green beans, they all want it. I can pretty much get them to accept any veggie as a treat if they think another dog will take it if they don’t.

    Why, yes, I am devious. Why do you ask?
    jan recently posted…Chihuahuas quickly adopted at shelter eventMy Profile

  7. Rita is very fussy. I’ve yet to find a fruit that she’ll eat. (Although she gets treats with blueberries and apples in them.) She doesn’t like most raw veggies, but she’ll eat cooked carrots and zuc’s and squash. She also likes sweet potatoes. She’s not a fan of broccoli or peppers and won’t eat a tomato unless it’s touched a slice of pizza. 🙂 She is picky! Her fave veggie though is baked kale chips. (She’s so odd.)
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Monday Mischief: My Puzzled PuppyMy Profile

  8. My first dog Lucky LOVED fruits and veggies. She’d go bananas for apples! ;0)
    She also loved lettuce and would crunch on it as long as I’d give it to her. Kayo has always loved fruit but initially spit out veggies…until she watched how much Lucky enjoyed them! She really loves celery, especially with a touch of peanut butter.
    I fed both Lotus dog food, which had veggies in it; now Kayo eats Stella and Chewys raw food that also has fruit and veggies in it. Occasionally I give her some pumpkin and apple food supplement.
    BoingyDog recently posted…Puppy With Defect Is Taught to Walk, Given Chance to LiveMy Profile

  9. Great post! I read so many saying no veggies or fruits which I think is ridiculous. Now I can refer to the study showing the reduced risk of bladder cancer. One thing is I do cook and finely chop the veggies for easier absorption and when I want to “hide” the veggies Kirby doesn’t like.

  10. I had to share this post with my husband because he has been sharing apples with Dakota since we got him! (yes, I know the seeds are poisonous! He doesn’t eat too many apples!) Dakota loves them!
    He also enjoys red, yellow and orange peppers (the non-hot kind)
    This week he ate fresh tomatoes for the first time. He loves carrots and broccoli.
    I try to give him fruits and veggies that are safe for him whenever I think about it!
    Caren Gittleman recently posted…Merrymaking MischiefMy Profile

  11. I love giving my guys fruits and veggies! They get sweet potato, broccoli, and carrots cooked and added to their dinner. I use frozen berries as treats, which they love! Emmett and Cooper will eat spinach, kiwi, tomato, anything really! I always share a bit of my lunch with them. Lucas… unless it’s mixed in with his dinner, he spits it on the floor!
    Maggie recently posted…The cat plan: Part 3My Profile

  12. Our dogs are deprived. They don’t get much extra food. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Working On Line Manners And SteadyMy Profile

  13. Great tasty tuesday post. jack yr too funny. didn’t know about eating veggies cut down on bladder cancer. we actually had two dogs in clinic who probably have bladder cancer. 🙁 i just started feeding my dogs fruits and veggies.
    joann stancer recently posted…Rain Forest Coastal Labs Shampoo Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  14. Hi Y’all!

    I’m still casting my vote for y’all in the Petties.

    As for fruits and vegies…if my Human eats it, I like it. My favorites are melons, especially watermelon which I have everyday when they are in season. I also love to eat the figs that fall off of the fig tree here in at my low country home and the blackberries and raspberries that grow wild at my mountain home. I eat them right off of the bushes. Apples and pears are plentiful and I always try to devour them before my Human catches me and stops me. I tend to overeat them.

    I get home baked treats that are baby carrots and potatoes. My Human bakes them so they keep and she can carry them to reward me for a job well done!

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Some Dogs Tell No TalesMy Profile

  15. I agree that dogs likely get some value from eating fruits and veggies. I don’t buy a food based on what kind or how many are in there but I do like to see some on there. Gretel loves apples, carrots and bananas for snacks too!
    Jessica recently posted…Lazy Dog Mom Treats – Banana Blueberry Ice CubesMy Profile

  16. I love fruit and veggies, especially carrots and bananas (not necessarily together BOL)
    Misaki recently posted…WW: in the gardenMy Profile

  17. We play a fun blooberry catching game ebery mornin while my mum makes der green drinks. And she’ll drop da occasional spinach leaf or celery stick or carrot. Carrots be my speshul treat!

  18. Koly and Fe LOVE LOVE LOVE their Veggies. My Mother in Law used to think they were the craziest dogs ever, but these days she loves that she’s allowed to feed them anything out of the veggie drawer. (Don’t worry – I make sure it’s all dog friendly.)
    Kolchak, Felix & Jodi recently posted…Dog Friendly Dish WashingMy Profile

  19. Kobi LOVES fruits and veggies. The only ones he’s turned down are celery and raw green beans. His favorites are bananas, blueberries, and carrots. The girls aren’t so thrilled, I’ve gotten them to eat cantaloupe but they just kind of grudgingly take it and then look at me as if to ask if that’s all I have to offer! But if I mix fruit with yogurt, they love it.
    Jan K recently posted…Survivor SpotMy Profile

    • Too funny, the discerning tastes. Our Sally used to LOVE mangos!
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby: Eye color?My Profile

  20. I love carrots and sweet peppers, cantaloupe, apples, bananas, and watermelons. My black lab brother Jake would go crazy for apples – I think he liked them more than meat! Jake also used to steal cherry tomatoes right off the tomato plant in our yard! Mom and dad couldn’t figure out where the tomatoes kept going, but one day they saw Jake sniff all the tomatoes to see which one was ripe, and pluck the ripe one off the vine like he had done it many times before! And when mom was little, they had a yellow lab who would go into the garden, tear down a stalk of corn, and take it into the yard and chew on the ear of corn!

    Garth Riley recently posted…FitDog Friday – Great Places to Walk: Key West, FloridaMy Profile

    • Garth – us Labs are all alike. Our Sally would eat stuff off the tree too – peaches, apples, figs and of course avocados.
      mkob recently posted…Black & White Sunday 8-4-13My Profile

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