We have grown up knowing vegetables are healthy for our system and we have been bombarded for years with the plea to consume more. Given that fruits and vegetables contain a staggering amount of nutrients, does that mean they are as healthy for our pets as they are for us? One thing is clear: your dog does not approve of them. And there is a reason why. Although vegetables are not necessary for your dog's health, in most cases they cannot hurt him. But some do. The answer can be a bit more complex as it has to do with their physiology in particular.
The Root of the Behavior
Should I add veggies to my dog’s food? This is a question you may have asked yourself a million times before. Truth is, dogs can benefit from vegetables in their diet, but don’t need them on a regular basis. Just by analyzing your dog’s teeth and the way they are structured, all the way to their stomach and small intestine, you will notice one undeniable fact: dogs are built for holding, ripping, and tearing flesh. Your dog has the teeth of a carnivore. They are sharp and ridged, not flat. If you look at an herbivore’s teeth, you will notice they are flat, except for a few up front that are used to tear off vegetation for the other teeth to chew. Plus, unlike the herbivore, your dog’s jaw is designed to move up and down, not sideways. When it comes to humans, we are somewhere in the middle as we have both sharp and chewing teeth, so we can enjoy both meat and vegetables.
Not to say that your pup cannot eat veggies, but there are certain restrictions you need to be aware of such as feeding him onions, garlic, or chives, which can lead to anemia or even be fatal. At the same time, avocados and raw potatoes can also make your dog very sick. The same applies to cherries, mushrooms, apricots, apple seeds, grapes, and raisins. There have been some theories that suggest wolves eat the stomach contents of their prey first and that’s why dogs should eat vegetables and fruits as well. However, if they were to eat an entire small prey animal, only a small amount of vegetation would be consumed. The reality is that dogs don’t need vegetables to get their nutrients, but they can still enjoy them as a treat once in a while. Just be sure they don’t make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily diet.
Encouraging the Behavior
Keep in mind the natural diet and the physiology of your pup when choosing the best foods for him. If you insist on feeding him vegetables, choose the same quality of veggies that you’d serve your family such as baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, green beans, or pureed spinach. What’s good about them is that they are low-calorie, so they won’t hurt your pup’s sugar intake, but make sure you use them as supplements to his regular diet of high-protein food.
The easiest way to get your dog to eat vegetables is to trick him into doing it. How do you do that? As simple as it sounds… mask the veggies along with other types of food so that he won’t notice them. Here’s one delicious recipe you can try. Get 1 package of frozen spinach and 1 package of frozen broccoli and mix them into a puree. Next, press out the water, add 1 cup of chicken broth and voila… supper is served! He will be so busy eating up his broth that he won’t even notice the green stuff in it. You can repeat the process by adding less broth to each of his meals until he’s eating only the puréed vegetables.
Other Solutions and Considerations
So, what if you go through all this “trouble” and your pup still refuses to eat those veggies? What else can you do? We recommend mixing small amounts of vegetables into his regular food. You’re still playing the trick card but on a more subtle level. You can even take a handful of shredded carrots and sprinkle it on their kibble or dice the veggies small so he can’t root around for the “good stuff” and ignore them. Most importantly, beware of the number of calories you’re feeding your pup since too many fruits and vegetables can alter pH level, add fructose sugar, and other issues as well.
The truth of the matter is, your dog doesn’t like vegetables because he wasn’t designed to like them in the first place. Everything he needs is already in his food so there’s no need to add to it. You can treat them to some low-calorie veggies from time to time, but just make sure you choose a diet that is good for their health as well as their wellbeing.