Dogs DO digest vegetables and fruit and will readily eat them. Vegetables and fruit contain an abundance of unique and invaluable nutrients; vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants etc. Research suggests that the benefits of these nutrients are similar for both humans and canines. Antioxidants, for example, have been found to act similarly in both species; in studies, dogs with certain cancers have been found to have reduced antioxidant levels (Winter, 2009). Canine models have also been used to describe oxidative damage, the benefit of antioxidants and relevance for humans (Head, 2012).
Whilst it is true that vegetables and fruit are not an essential dietary need for dogs, they clearly are a beneficial addition. There is evidence to suggest they carry disease preventative capabilities, including roles in cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease, metabolic function, autoimmunity and age degeneration.
Here are our top 10 vegetable and fruit picks...
A cruciferous vegetable, packed with phytonutrients such as sulforaphane and isothiocyanates, yielding cancer preventative properties. Rich in vitamin C, also contains vitamins A, B complex, K and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and manganese. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 1,510 μ mol TE/100g.
A perinneal plant, a moderate source of fibre, containing vitamins A, B complex, C, E, K and minerals particularly copper and iron, lesser amounts of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 2,252 μ mol TE/100g.
Purple Sweet Potato
A root vegetable, a good source of fibre, rich in vitamin A also containing vitamin C and B6. Rich in potassium, other minerals include calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Contains flavonoids such as Anthocyanins, which have shown anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative properties. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 2,720 μ mol TE/100g.
Green leafy vegetable from the cruciferous family. Good source of fibre, packed with phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol which can exert anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative properties. Rich in vitamins A, C and K, also containing some B complex vitamins. Mineral-rich, particularly copper, also provides good amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorous and manganese. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 1,770 μ mol TE/100g.
Pumpkin is a squash plant, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A great source of fibre, it is a lower carb and more nutritious alternative to other more starchy carbohydrates, such as potato and rice. With its regulating activity, Pumpkin fibre is beneficial for dogs with gastrointestinal issues. Pumpkin seeds are also a source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, particularly magnesium and zinc. They have a natural de-worming, anti-parasitic activity, due to the amino acid Cucurbitin. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 483 μ mol TE/100g.
Antioxidant phytonutrient packed, including anthocyanidin compounds, chlorogenic acid, tannins, myricetin and quercetin. The benefits of this wonderful fruit are plentiful, preventative properties for numerous diseases, including cancer. Good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B complex, C, K and Manganese. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 4,669 μ mol TE/100g.
Apple (avoid core and pips)
Antioxidant, phytonutrient and flavonoid-rich, including quercetin and epicatechin. Good source of vitamin C, also containing A, B complex, E and K. Mineral content include iron and phosphorus. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 3,049 μ mol TE/100g. (With skin)
Phytonutrients include Bromelain a proteolytic enzyme, which has shown anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and cancer preventative properties. Rich in Vitamin C, also containing B complex and E. Mineral content includes a good amount of manganese, also copper, calcium, iron and magnesium. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 562 μ mol TE/100g.
Good source of fibre, rich in antioxidant phytonutrient and flavonoids, which exert their typical disease preventative properties. Good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins C, K and copper. Pear is one of the least allergenic fruits. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 2,201 μ mol TE/100g. (With skin)
Last but definitely not least, Lingonberries are often called the mountain cranberry. Containing over four times the amount of antioxidants than your average blueberry (second to Acai as the berry with the highest antioxidant content), this lesser-known fruit is a phenolic compound powerhouse! The higher polyphenol content has led to this berry being labelled a 'superfruit'. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Antioxidant value 20,300 μ mol TE/100g.
*Vegetables can be fed raw, however, we recommended lightly steaming, particularly cruciferous vegetables; which contain goitrogenic compounds (possible thyroid hormone disruption), lightly cooking helps deactivate these compounds. If there are concerns about digestibility, then this will also help. It is advisable to remove pips and pits from fruit and caution is advised with some skins/tough rinds on fruit and vegetables. Not all vegetables and fruit are safe for dogs, notably onions, grapes and raisins should be avoided. If in doubt, please undertake further research.
*We recommend adding only very small amounts to your dog's diet and not stick with one in each meal.