Although dogs have been around for thousands of years, the concept of dog food as its own distinct thing is only a couple of centuries old. In The Complete Farrier (1816), Richard Lawrence declares that “the dog is neither wholly carnivorous nor wholly herbivorous, but of a mixed kind, and can receive nourishment from either flesh or vegetables.” So, can dogs eat vegetables like celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn? This is a question — like “what fruits can dogs eat?” — that I’ve often asked myself while strolling through the local farmers’ market or the produce section of the grocery store. Here at Dogster, we’ve looked into some of the most popular vegetables and come up with the following guide for your edification and entertainment!
Yes and no. This may cause some consternation, but in small quantities, the tomato fruit is okay for dogs. There has long been debate on dogs and tomatoes, but the worst a little bit of ripe tomato will do to a dog is cause some stomach upset. Large quantities of tomato should not be fed to dogs; ingested in great enough volumes, naturally occurring chemicals in the fruit can cause heart and nervous system problems.
The green parts of the tomato plant — the vine, leaves, stems, and unripe fruit — are another matter altogether. Solanine is a chemical found in high concentrations in these parts. One of the tomato’s natural defenses, solanine is found throughout the nightshade family, including the tomato and potato. If you have tomatoes in your garden, you’re better off keeping the dog out.
This one gets an unqualified “no.” All parts of the avocado tree and fruit contain a natural antifungal agent called persin, which is hazardous to dogs when consumed in great enough quantities. Needless to say the pit or seed of an avocado should not be given to a dog; aside from the natural toxins it contains, it can cause intestinal blockages.
Served in an appropriate manner, both corn and popcorn are safe for dogs to eat. While the kernels of ripe corn are okay for dogs, the cob itself is a bit more dangerous. Ingested by a dog, even small pieces of corn cob can tear at and cause damage to the walls of a dog’s digestive tract. As for popcorn, take common sense precautions. Plain and unadorned — that is to say, air popped, with neither salt nor butter — popcorn can be a nice treat for a dog.
Broccoli is another yes and no affair; use your best judgement. In very small amounts, the head of broccoli should not present any issues for your dog, but only in very small amounts. Received wisdom across multiple sources suggests that if it accounts for no more than five to 10 percent of a dog’s daily food intake, broccoli is all right for dogs. More than that and you can have a dog with a severely upset stomach.
Cut into small, chewable, digestible pieces — with the leaves removed — celery is okay for dogs in limited amounts. Too much can cause them to urinate a great deal more than usual.
Your dog is safe with carrots, preferably cut up into smaller sticks or pieces that they can easily chew on.
No! Eaten by dogs, onions cause red blood cells to break down, a condition called hemolytic anemia. The breakdown of red blood cells means that the dog gets less oxygen. The more concentrated the onion, the more quickly it works. Your dog should avoid garlic as well for the same reason. If you’re like me and enjoy onion in your guacamole, it’s even more a reason to keep that avocado dip you find delicious well away from your dog.
As with tomatoes, the leaves, stems, and unripened fruit of potato plants contain solanine, which is toxic to dogs. Even ripe, a potato is not a good idea for dog nutrition. Peeled, and then cooked or mashed, on the other hand, your dog may enjoy a bit of potato. Observe the same caution you would with popcorn, and make sure there’s no salt or butter present. The same — no additives — goes for sweet potatoes, even though they are fundamentally different plants.
Yes! Especially if it’s peeled and given in chewable portions, cucumber is fine for dogs. As for pickles, the excess of vinegar and salt in pickles may be a bit more than your dog’s digestive system would appreciate.
As long as the amount is small and reasonable, asparagus presents no problems for dogs.
Yes! Green beans, in moderation, are fine for dogs. Raw or cooked, as long as you avoid salt and other additives, your dog may enjoy some green beans.
Another yes to close things out! If you dog has a taste for peas, then by all means, let them have a few!
In 1816, Richard Lawrence wrote that “parsnips, carrots, cabbages, and, indeed all vegetable matter, will feed dogs sufficiently well for the purposes of their existence.” Fortunately, we know better now to steer our dogs clear of avocado and onion, as well as to keep them from many unripened vegetable plants in the garden.
What kinds of vegetables do your dogs seem to enjoy? Have you ever offered a carrot stick to your dog, only to be met with a blank stare? Let us know about your dog’s experiences with veggies in the comments!
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