Are some veg better than others? Paws vet Steph gives you the lowdown.
Is your dog eyeing up the leftovers? Or maybe you want to bring fresh veggies into their diet and need a hand with the shopping list?
Most of us humans see vegetables as a low-calorie nutrient bomb.
Dogs, however, see them as... a treat. (Yes, a low-calorie treat. You read that right!)
Below you’ll find my list of recommended veggies that could give your dog a health boost. It’s followed by a breakdown about each one, for our fellow nutrition nerds.
Is your pawed pal feeling fancy? Bok choy means “spoon cabbage” in Chinese. (Other spellings include pak choi and pok choi).
It’s very high in fibre, which can help with doggy weight maintenance. It’s rich in thiamine too, an important foundation for energy production, brain and nerve function, and skin, hair, fur and claws.
these vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) and vitamin B9 (also known as folate)
and minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc.
Watch out for the downside of lots of fibre! Bok choy can cause diarrhoea or constipation when dogs eat it in excess. And if your dog has an underactive thyroid, try to steer clear of bok choy altogether. It can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones due to a natural substance called goitrogens.
So much more than wannabe mini-trees. Broccoli is very high in antioxidants, which are thought to protect your dog against cell damage from free radicals.
It’s rich in isothiocyanates as well (the jury’s out, but evidence suggests that these complicated-sounding things have an anti-cancer effect).
these vitamins: vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin B2
and minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc.
Watch out for dogs with a diagnosed underactive thyroid. It’s a similar story for broccoli as for bok choy.
Boxing Day pups, rejoice! Humans may love ‘em or hate ‘em, but these little balls of controversy are roundly popular with dogs.
Brussel sprouts very high in fibre. They’re rich in vitamin B9 (folate) on top, which is important for the production and repair of DNA and cell division.
these vitamins: vitamin K, vitamin Ca
and minerals: copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc.
Watch out for flatulence! As we all know, come Boxing Day, brussel sprouts make their presence felt (and smelt). And they’re not advised for dogs with an underactive thyroid either.
You can tell from the orange colour (and, well, the name) that carrots are very high in beta carotene.
For starters, beta carotene is an antioxidant. It also plays a key role in the production of vitamin A, which helps keep your pup’s peepers in good nick.
these vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6
and minerals: potassium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron.
Watch out for the high(ish) sugar content in carrots. They’re more sugary than many other types of vegetable, so you need to be extra careful not to overfeed.
Reckon your best bud won’t be wowed by the beigeness of cauliflower? Looks can be deceiving.
It’s very high in calcium, which can support strong doggy bones and teeth, as well as healthy heart and muscle function. Like broccoli, it’s rich in isothiocyanates too.
these vitamins: vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B9 (folate)
and minerals: magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc.
Watch out for yup, you’ve guessed it. Dogs with an underactive thyroid should avoid cauliflower.
Are you sitting comfortably? Because kale really pushes the boat out when it comes to your dog’s health.
Kale is very high in copper, an essential nutrient for healthy red blood cell function and growth and immunity. It’s rich in carotenoids as well (they’re an antioxidant which may have an anti-inflammatory effect) and isothiocyanates. Oh and did we mention fibre?
these vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin C, vitamin K
and minerals: magnesium, manganese.
Watch out for canine kidney stones or bladder stones, as these can be worsened by the oxalates in kale. Small amounts are fine for most dogs, but if your dog has a history of kidney or bladder stones it’s safest to avoid kale altogether. The same applies to dogs with an underactive thyroid.
In your dog’s opinion, peas are little green pops of candy. Even better: these “just enough” mini treats need no faffy preparation whatsoever.
Peas are very high in vitamin K, which helps blood to clot and supports heart and bone health. They’re also rich in phosphorus, an important foundation for strong bones. Oh, and they pack an antioxidant punch too.
these vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C
and minerals: manganese, selenium, zinc.
Watch out for weight gain. Peas are a very starchy vegetable (i.e. sugary!) so they're best fed to your dog as a special treat rather than a daily dose.
At last! A use for your Halloween masterpiece. But seriously, pumpkin is a great choice for dogs all year round.
Like carrots, pumpkin’s lovely orangeyness tells you it’s very high in beta carotene. It’s also rich in fibre but low in calories, a combination that can help chubby pets feel full.
these vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin C
and minerals: copper, potassium, manganese.
There’s really nothing to watch out for with pumpkin. It’s a fabulous all-rounder. Just be sure to chop it up to a manageable size for your dog.
It’s a “yes” for cooked sweet potato. Here we have yet another sunset-toned vegetable that’s very high in beta carotene.
Sweet potato is also rich in vitamin B6, which plays a role in red blood cell production and the metabolism of protein, glucose and fat (in other words, getting the calories out of food).
these vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin C
and minerals: calcium, copper, iron, manganese.
Watch out for the preparation requirements. Unlike the other vegetables in this list, sweet potato has to be cooked first, otherwise it can upset your dog’s stomach. On that note, watch out for the fibre levels too - sweet potato can give your dog diarrhoea or constipation if you overdo it, even when cooked.
Is your pawed pal in the mood for a classic? Turn to the turnip!
Compared to other vegetables, turnip is very high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, which can support canine joint health, heart health and skin health. It’s also rich in isothiocyanates.
these vitamins: vitamin C, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
and minerals: manganese, phosphorous, potassium, zinc.
Watch out for dogs with an underactive thyroid. Turnip in the same bucket as all the other problematic veg. Basically, if your dog has an underactive thyroid, it’s really worth consulting with your vet to ask them about your dog’s individual nutritional needs.
Take a pick ‘n’ mix approach when deciding what veggies are on the menu. This will help you strike a healthy balance of nutrients for your dog. Feed the rainbow!
Introduce each new variety bit by bit, and don’t overfeed. A good ballpark figure for vegetables (in total) is up to 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
Chop up (or puree) your veg for safety’s sake. Big chunks can get stuck in your pup’s throat.
To cook or not to cook? Sweet potato is a must-cook. You can also choose to lightly steam the other veg in this list, if you like (it makes them easier to digest). No herbs or seasoning needed.
Avoid gravy, as it’s often high in salt. Your Sunday roast scraps might need a bit of a wipe!
Use vegetables as a tasty reward for training. Especially the sweet, portable, bitesize ones, like peas and carrots. Go easy on the quantity though.
As always, we recommend checking with your vet if you’re not sure. The advice above is a good guide, but every dog is different. And boy, do we love them for it.