There are countless options when choosing a vegetable or fruit treat for your dog. Experts at SASH Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital share their suggestions, including their favorites for their own dogs:
Dr Bing Zhu, BVSc DipACVIM, SASH specialist in internal medicine:
Bing gives carrots to his two dogs. Dogs love the crunch of a carrot, which is also great for their teeth. Their low fat content makes them a relatively safe snack for dogs with most illnesses and contains plenty of fiber, beneficial for the digestive system and keeping your dog regular. Interestingly, according to surveys, carrots were often the first fruit or vegetable recommended by many experts on this list.
Dr Yvette Crowe, BVSc MANZCVS FANZCVS, SASH specialist in ophthalmology:
Blueberries are Crowe’s favorite. They are full of vitamins and antioxidants, especially anthocyanins. More and more research demonstrates the positive impact of blueberries on various health parameters in many species, including dogs, but most notable to Dr. Yvette is how blueberries can protect the retina, part of the eye.
Dr Barry Cherno, DVM DipACVSMR MANZCVS CCRT CVA, SASH specialist in sports medicine & rehabilitation:
Cherno’s dog loves seedless watermelon, which earns his approval. This is a delicious low-fat treat that can be frozen in hot weather for an even more refreshing experience. Their 92% water content makes them excellent for hydration. A fun fact about watermelon is that it contains an amino acid called citrulline. Citrulline plays a role in dilating blood vessels, which may improve exercise performance.
Brussels sprout leaves, broccoli stems and cauliflower
Dr Iain Keir, BVMS DipACVECC DECVECC, SASH specialist in emergency and intensive care:
The Keir family dog enjoys a combination of Brussels sprouts, broccoli stalks and cauliflower, common staples in the Keir family fridge. These powerhouse vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals make a healthy, crunchy and fun snack for dogs. Dr. Iain also uses these ingredients mixed with cooked rice as a short-term solution when he runs out of dog food.
Dr Stacey Brady, BVSc MSc DipECVN, SASH specialist in neurology and neurosurgeon:
Brady often recommends green beans to his patients. In her work, she uses many drugs that stimulate the appetite. Green beans are a great low-calorie snack that is a healthy way to keep patients full without causing them to gain excess pounds.
Dr Linda Vogelnest, BVSc MANZCVS FANZCVS, SASH specialist in dermatology:
When Vogelnest eats a little extra spinach, her dog has a chance to benefit from its nutritional benefits. Spinach is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, iron being one of the best known. However, it also contains zinc, a mineral essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
Dr. Maja Drozdzynska, DVM MVetMed DipECVAA, SASH specialist in anesthesia:
Drozdzynska’s dog is very fond of kiwi. Although this treat is best known for its high vitamin C content, dogs can actually synthesize their own vitamin C, so they don’t benefit in the same way as if Maja ate the fruit herself. However, kiwis are also rich in other nutrients such as vitamin K, as well as being a tangy, low-calorie snack.
Dr Katharina Flatz, DrMedVet FTA DipECVDI, SASH specialist in diagnostic imaging:
Flatz shares his apple stash with his horses and two dogs. Cored apples, with skin, are a good source of fiber and many antioxidants like quercetin. It is important to remove the seeds because they contain cyanide-like compounds that are best not consumed. While the skin is the source of most nutritional benefits.
Dr Arianne Fabella, BVSc DipACVIM, SASH specialist in cardiology:
Fabella feeds her two elderly dogs with refreshing cucumbers. Cucumber is another low-calorie vegetable that is 95% water. High water intake is very important for many of Fabella’s patients who take heart medications, while low calorie intake is ideal for her older dogs because they slow down and expend less energy.
Dr. Sarah Wetzel, BS DVM MS DipACVIM, SASH Oncology Specialist:
Yellow and orange vegetables contain vitamin A precursors called carotenoids. These compounds have been linked to reducing the risk of bladder cancer. One of her favorites is butternut squash. Perfectly fine raw, but when roasted they make a delicious snack that’s sure to please pampered dogs.
Dr Stephen Yeomans, BSc BVSc MVSc MANZCVS DipACVP, SASH pathology specialist:
Yeoman’s dog loves mango. This sweet treat is irresistible to most dogs and is a source of vitamin E, beta-carotene, potassium and antioxidants. A word of caution, however, is to always serve mango without the seeds, or to monitor feeding closely. A swallowed mango seed will cause a nasty obstruction, requiring a trip to the emergency vet.
Iceberg lettuce spines
Dr Philip Inness, BSc BVMS MVS MVetClinStud MANZCVS DipECVS, SASH specialist in surgery:
Inness’s dog loves the crispy spine of iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is one of the lowest-calorie vegetables on this list. Feeding only the spine would provide a negligible number of calories (ideal for dogs who need to watch their waistline), while still providing vitamins and minerals.
Note that these vegetables and fruits are recommended as treats rather than as tips for formulating your dog’s diet. You can consult your dog’s nutritionist or veterinarian for nutritional advice based on your dog’s specific needs.