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Your dog shouldn’t really have a bite of your pizza—but they can probably snack on your fruit plate! Fruits, veggies, and other whole foods are powerful boosters to your dog’s diet, whether they’re supplementing kibble or as healthy snacks. You can also pick up a variety of vegetarian dog treats online or in stores—everything from peanut butter training chews to dog-friendly dried coconut.
Over centuries of domestication, dogs have adapted to eat many kinds of foods, and while there’s some controversy about whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores, they’re definitely able to eat and enjoy their veggies. And eggs. And apple slices.
Here are some easy, tasty vegetarian options for your dog!
Crunchy, delicious, and light, cucumber also promotes healthy dog skin and eyes. A few slices of cucumber can keep dogs happily hydrated on hot days, too! Your pet will benefit from the fiber in the peel, so there’s no need to remove it.
Since whole cucumbers are a choking hazard, slices are best for optimal enjoyment.
A wholesome ingredient in many delicious treats, flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and risk of disease. Add flaxseed to mashed banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, or sprinkle it over your dog’s meal for a nutritious boost.
3. Chia Seed
Chia is packed with fiber, B-vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Try these gourmet Strawberry Coconut Cream Chia Seed Dog Treats for a tasty fiber boost to your dog’s day.
If you’re cooking for your dog, you can add chia to a recipe in lieu of eggs. You’ll need to grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder and blend 1 tablespoon of ground chia with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it set for 10 minutes, and use the mixture to replace one egg in a recipe.
4. Hardboiled Eggs
Eggs are healthy, easy treats for your pup. They provide protein and a range of B-vitamins among other benefits. Keep a few hardboiled eggs in the refrigerator to use as training treats or a midday snack. Plus, the calcium in eggshells can help your dog’s teeth and bones!
Note: senior dogs and puppies may not be able to crunch up the shell, and some dogs are simply picky about the texture. In that case, hardboiled egg pieces (or scrambled eggs, for that matter) are your best bet.
Cooked or fresh, lettuce is packed with vitamins and minerals that support overall health (though iceberg lettuce is mainly water, which isn’t a bad thing!.) Serve it plain or with carrots and rice, or add lettuce to your dog’s usual meal.
The vitamin C in strawberries is great for boosting your dog’s immune system, and it’s a fruit your dog can safely enjoy. Offer her fresh strawberries when they’re in season, or a frozen berry as a delightful treat in summer. Avoid strawberries with added sugar or syrup.
Broccoli contains essential micronutrients like potassium, calcium, and iron. Fresh broccoli, especially the stalk, is excellent for keeping your dog’s teeth healthy.
When you’re slicing broccoli for cooking, you can offer your dog the scrap leaves and stalks, or add these leftovers to your pet’s next meal—who needs a compost bin when you have a dog? (Kidding!)
Manganese and magnesium are both found in pineapple, which dogs love. Stick to fresh or cooked pineapple, rather than canned or syrup-packed options. Bring cut pineapple along to the park so you and your pet can both enjoy a picnic! Just be sure to keep the serving sizes small and snackable.
Another great fruit for pets, pears contain vitamins A and C, along with plenty of fiber. Slice the pear open to remove the seeds and core—your dog should not eat these, as pear seeds contain (very) trace amounts of cyanide (also bad for humans, of course!) The peel won’t harm your pet.
Village dogs around the world eat rice, which is generally easy for dogs to digest. While it’s not a necessary part of your dog’s diet, cooked, plain rice can be a great supplement for dogs with tummy troubles. Many vets recommend plain rice and boiled chicken for dogs recovering from diarrhea, for instance.
Can Dogs Be Vegetarian?
Vegetarian and vegan diets are technically possible for dogs, but it’s not typically recommended by vets. Your pet may not be suited to such a limited diet—and growing pups especially need higher doses of protein. If you choose to go beyond supplementing with veggies, check with your vet.
That said, the health benefits of fresh, wholesome foods for dogs can’t be underestimated. The nutrients they contain can make a real difference in your pet’s health. And for dogs who struggle with dry food, experimentation will go a long way in multiplying their mealtime options.