Every good dog deserves treats. Even naughty dogs deserve a treat sometimes. But as a dog owner, you may be wary about commercially available dog treats. They can be high in calories. They can pack unhealthy preservatives. And with all the pet-treat recalls we read about, how can we even be sure store-bought treats won’t make our dogs sick? Not to worry. You probably already have plenty of dog-friendly snacks in your fridge and pantry. Read on to find out which fresh fruits and vegetables double as great treats for dogs.
Besides their uniquely smooth texture and sweet taste, bananas also boast loads of amino acids, electrolytes, minerals, vitamins B6 and C, potassium, fiber and manganese. That's a lot of nutritional bang for your buck! Because of their sugar content, bananas are often used as treats for working and athletic dogs. If your dog uses a lot of energy, whether he’s your professional companion or just a sidekick on long hikes, bring a few bananas along to keep him going strong.
Beets are a nutritional warrior of the root-vegetable realm. They’ve really got it all: beta-carotene, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B and C, just to start. On top of their laundry list of vitamins and minerals, beets are also well-regarded as being of particular benefit for liver health, and are frequently used for cleansing and detoxifying. If your dog has a liver ailment, beets could do him a world of good. Even if your dog is completely healthy, beets still make a tasty and healthy snack.
You’re barely out of bed and your furry pal is already at your feet, giving you those puppy-dog eyes, looking for handouts. Is it safe to share a handful of the blueberries you’re adding to your morning oatmeal? It’s more than safe; it’s downright healthy. Fresh or frozen, berries are good for dogs for the same reasons they’re good for us: they’re packed with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. But don’t share too much, because dogs are just as prone as we are to the digestive discomfort that can come from berry overindulgence.
Carrots are an excellent choice of a vegetable snack for dogs. Dogs love to chow down on carrots because they’re sweet and delicious, and they’re healthy because of all the vitamins, fiber and potassium they carry. As a bonus, carrots are great for canine dental health, too. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker suggests baby carrots as a snack to help remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, and to keep its breath fresh and pleasant.
“Eat a green thing every day” is an age-old dietary tip that stands for people and their dogs alike. Getting your kids to eat green beans can be an ongoing battle, but your dog will probably wolf them down. You already know that green beans are nutritious because they’re full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Since they’re also low in calories, they make a great weight-management snack for dogs that have put on a few extra pounds.
Many pet owners are concerned about the safety of feeding peanut butter to their dogs. The dogs seem to crave the stuff, but is it a safe snack? If your dog can’t seem to keep her snout out of the Skippy, you may be relieved to know that it’s safe, and even healthy, since peanut butter is a good source of vitamins, protein and healthy fats. A caveat: Choose a peanut butter that’s all-natural. Preferably, you want the ingredients to list peanuts only. A lot of sugar, salt and preservatives don’t make for a healthy choice.
Yes, pumpkin. Like its orange friends, sweet potatoes and carrots, pumpkin is bursting with vitamins, beta carotene and fiber. It’s also low in calories, and you can feed it to a tummy-aching dog to settle its stomach or help relieve diarrhea. As always, fresh is best. If you really must buy the canned stuff, make sure you select a brand of pumpkin that’s not full of sugar and preservatives.
Spring might have only just sprung, but that simply means that summer will be here before you know it. When you’re chowing down on a refreshing slice of watermelon, don’t be afraid to share a little bit with your dog, especially when the weather is hot. The high fluid content in watermelon can help ward off dehydration. It’s also low in calories and has plenty of vitamins A and C, plus potassium and magnesium. Just don’t share any of the seeds or the rind.
Yogurt is one of the best treats you can give dogs for the same reasons it’s so often recommended to humans: it’s packed to the rafters with probiotics, vitamins, protein, calcium, riboflavin, zinc and potassium. But be as judicious with selecting yogurt for your dog as you would be with yourself. Avoid yogurts that are chock-full of sugar, preservatives and other additives. By the same token, fat-free yogurt is an acceptable option for dieting dogs, but be careful not to choose a brand that replaces the fat with an artificial fat substitute. All-natural is the name of the game here.
Next: Bad Treats for Dogs
Grilling zucchini and other squashes makes for a delicious summer meal, but while you’re cooking them up, is it safe to toss some to your furry companion? Yup! Zucchini’s potassium, folate and vitamin content make it healthy for you and your dog, and no part of the vegetables is toxic to canines. Feed without fear.
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