Sharing our food with our dogs is something that is hard to prevent—especially since they’ve learned that all it takes is a cute little begging face and we’re ready to hand anything over. However, while some of our food can be helpful to them, some items can also be very detrimental.
We’re going to break down all of the safe and unsafe fruits and vegetables that your pet may encounter.
Fruits are a great treat for your dog, but they have a lot of natural sugars that your pet doesn’t require as part of their diet. Keep in mind that fruits shouldn’t be given as more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, but can be a nice, healthy, pick-me-up if your pooch needs some extra motivation.
When sharing fruit with your dog, remember that it is perfectly safe to give them raw or frozen fruits. However, anything canned or jarred with syrup or juice should be avoided because of the extra, normally processed, sugars that are added in.
Apples: Good source of vitamins A and C and a great treat for senior dogs who don’t need any extra protein or fats added to their diet.
Bananas: High in potassium, vitamins, biotin, fiber, and copper. Also high in natural sugars, so be sparing with this treat.
Blueberries: An amazing superfood filled with helpful antioxidants that are great for your dog and can prevent cell damage.
Cantaloupe: Low calorie source of nutrients, water, and fiber. Also high in natural sugars, so keep it in moderation
Cranberries: Safe in small quantities and have a unique flavor profile that dogs may or may not enjoy.
Cucumbers: Rich in several vitamins and can be a great treat for dogs on a diet because they are low in calories. They can also boost your dog’s energy levels.
Kiwis: Great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, but be careful to remove the skins and seeds.
Mango: High in several vitamins: A, B6, C, and E, and has potassium and both alpha- and beta-carotene. Be sure that the pit is fully removed before sharing with your dog. Mangos are also high in sugar, so share sparingly.
Oranges: The same reason why oranges are good for people is why they’re good for dogs: vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. But dogs can be picky about the strong scent of citrus coming from the fruit. If your dog doesn’t mind it, feel free to share small quantities of the flesh of the fruit, but never the peel.
Pears: High in copper, vitamins C and K, and fiber, and it’s likely that they can help in reducing the risk of stroke.
Pineapple: Rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and has the added benefit of an enzyme that helps your dog absorb protein, so it can be a great treat for older dogs who aren’t keeping muscle on as well as they used to.
Pumpkin: While not the easiest to digest, the nutrients it contains makes pumpkin a dog superfood. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as being a digestive supplement make it great for your dog. Just make sure that you are sharing plain, unseasoned pumpkin puree with your dog because it is both the easiest to digest and the safest.
Raspberries: Low in sugar and calories and can be a great treat for senior dogs as they have an anti-inflammatory property that can help with joint pain. But they have to be given in moderation— meaning no more than a cup at a time—because they contain slight amounts of xylitol which can be dangerous in large amounts.
Strawberries: Full of fiber and vitamin C, and they have an enzyme that can help brighten your dog’s (and your own) teeth. They are high in sugar and so should be given in moderation.
Watermelon: High in vitamins A, B6, and C, and potassium. They can also be a great way to keep a dog hydrated on a hot summer day because they contain so much water. Be mindful to remove the rind and seeds to help reduce intestinal blockage.
Avocado: Avocado plants contain persin in the pits, skin, and leaves in toxic quantities for your dog. While the flesh of the fruit contains less than the outer parts, it can still be too much for your dog to handle. Persin has been known to cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Aside from that, avocados also have a high level of fat that is not helpful to your pet.
Cherries: If a dog were to eat a cherry with a pit and stem still intact they might contract cyanide poisoning, which damages cellular oxygen transport. While the flesh of the cherry is safe for dogs to eat, the threat is significant enough that it’s best to avoid the fruit altogether.
Grapes: Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. They can lead to sudden acute liver failure, which is an immediate threat to your dog’s survival. Never give your dog grapes or raisins, and pay close attention to their health if they manage to get ahold of some. Lemon: The highly acidic properties of lemon can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and most dogs will likely not be interested in the fruit due to the bitter taste and concentrated citrus smell.
Tomatoes: If a tomato has any unripened, green spots then it can be dangerous to your dog’s health. The unripened sections of the plant contain solanine, which can make them sick in large quantities. It’s safest to avoid tomatoes, ripe or otherwise, to protect from the threat.
Dogs have a stomach designed for processing meat—just by looking at your pooch’s teeth you’ll see that they weren’t designed to break down veggies the same way that human or herbivore teeth can. That being said, besides just giving in to their begging face when they’re staring at you, there are instances where sharing veggies can assist in clearing up some tummy issues in your pet.
You can help them with their digestive process by breaking down some of the vegetables' structural integrity for them by preparing it before giving it to your pooch. A few of these methods include:
Beets: Have plenty of vitamin C, fiber, folate, manganese and potassium. They can also benefit your dog’s fur and skin, and have enzymes that can help your dog digest and absorb other nutrients more efficiently.
Broccoli: High in fiber and vitamin C, and low in fat, broccoli can make a great occasional treat for your dog. Be mindful of the size of the florets you share because the stalk has been known to cause obstruction in the esophagus, and keep the amount to a minimum because it can cause gastric irritation in some dogs.
Brussels Sprouts: Filled with nutrients and antioxidants and are great for your dog’s overall health, though they can cause quite a bit of gas so be mindful of your future nose when sharing brussels sprouts.
Cabbage: Filled with antioxidants and some—believed to be—cancer fighting compounds. They come with a similar warning as brussels sprouts, be mindful of the gas to come.
Carrots: High in fiber and beta-carotene, while low in calories and can be a fun, crunchy snack to entertain your pet while also providing some nutrients along the way. It can also benefit your dog’s teeth to crunch into a carrot.
Cauliflower: Great source of fiber and vitamin C, while being low in fat. Though it should be shared in moderation as too much cauliflower has the potential to lead to uncomfortable gas, for both you and your pup.
Celery: Known to help freshen doggie-breath, as well as have plenty of other great health properties like vitamins A, B, and C as well as nutrients that commonly lead to a healthy heart, and at times help fight cancer.
Green beans: Specifically plain, unseasoned green beans are great for your dog and are filled with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all while being low in calories.
Kale: In small portions, Kale can be great for your dog as it’s full of beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, and anti-cancer properties. However, all of these amazing nutrients come along with a few natural compounds that can’t be processed in large quantities by your dog. So be mindful of moderation.
Peas: Full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, peas are a great addition to your dog’s regular diet. All forms of peas, fresh or frozen, green, snow, sugar snap, English, and garden are safe and healthy for your pet, but avoid any canned peas because of the additional sodium.
Spinach: In small quantities, spinach is safe for your dog to eat and contains potassium, magnesium, vitamins B6, B9, and E, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. With a list that long, you may want to give your dog plenty of spinach but it is definitely a veggie you want to limit. Spinach is high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage if too much is given.
Sweet potatoes: Plain, cooked sweet potatoes are full of vitamins A, B6, and C, calcium, potassium, iron, fiber, and beta-carotene. They are often recommended by vets as a healthy treat and are included in many DIY dog treat recipes. Just be sure to give in moderation.
Zucchini: Full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folate, and is high in protein, while still low in calories. Be sure to thoroughly cut up this vegetable before giving it to your pup, whether it’s cooked or raw, to help their body process it more easily.
Asparagus: There isn’t technically anything unsafe about asparagus. However, if you want to share a vegetable with your dog, another would be more beneficial to them because asparagus is too difficult for their body to break down raw, and once it’s cooked enough for a dog to process, the nutrients are fully negated. And while standard asparagus is non-toxic, the asparagus fern can be. So it’s safest to go with a more nutrient-filled vegetable that you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong variant of.
Mushrooms: There are tens of thousands of different kinds of mushrooms, both farmed and wild, and only about 50-100 of them are known to be toxic. While that would normally be a comforting statement, mushrooms have such a wide range of variability in them that while one mushroom in a package may be fine to share, another may be detrimental. And since sharing the wrong mushroom with your dog has been known to occasionally lead to death, it’s safest to keep the mushrooms to ourselves.
Onions: Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives belong to the family of Allium plants that are known to be poisonous to pets. Eating onions can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea at best, or cause their red blood cells to rupture at worst. Onions and other similar aromatics should be avoided at all times.