Learn Why Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Are Beneficial For Pets
Pet nutrition is a hot topic. So, let’s focus on the basics: fruits and vegetables.
We know fruits and vegetables are essential for our diets, but they are also beneficial for our pets. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense, and the benefits your pets obtain from the fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and vitamins can do wonders for their health.
Why supplement with fruits and vegetables?
Unfortunately, the typical pet’s diet isn’t complete and balanced. Vegetables and plants have an abundance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, and even beneficial bacteria. They provide protective benefits for pets whose diets primarily consist of canned or kibble food.
These foods tend to have high levels of carcinogenic chemicals called advanced glycation end products(AGEs). AGEs are naturally present in animal-based products, and additional AGEs form during the cooking process. Since dogs and cats primarily eat these types of food their entire life, their toxic load is much higher as a result.
Toxic loads can negatively impact various organ systems, overall health and even shorten the lifespan of pets and people. The excellent news is that antioxidants and other phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens and berries, help ward off some of the adverse effects of AGEs. In addition, even the best raw, kibble, or dehydrated foods lack the benefits of fresh, organic, raw, or “lightly” cooked plants and veggies.
What fruits and vegetables can you add?
- Leafy greens (rotate for variety)
- Green beans
- Summer squash
- …and so many more!
How much to add?
When serving fruits and vegetables to your cats and dogs, the most critical element to consider is the quantity you’re serving. These additions should be kept low for a cat and consist of no more than 5-10% of their diet. A dog’s diet should be no more than 15–20%.
Dogs and cats should avoid a few fruits and vegetables, like grapes and avocados. For cats specifically, avoid high-starch foods like potatoes, pumpkin, and grain-based products. This is because cats lack adequate enzymes to digest carbohydrates and benefit from the antioxidants within low-starch vegetables.
You can always check out our social media and blog posts to see what we advise when you’re adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your pet’s food!
Mix it up!
Deciding to add fruits and vegetables to your pet’s diet is the easy part. But, how exactly can you add them in?
First, you should experiment with a small number of fruits and vegetables one at a time to observe your pet for any adverse reactions.
A few quick tips:
- Choose organic if you can
- Avoid additives like oils, spices, etc.
- Remove all choking hazards (i.e., cut up into small pieces, remove stems, etc.)
Adding to your pet’s bowl will be trial and error, depending on how picky your pet is. Serving your pet fruits and vegetables is more exciting than just throwing them on top of their bowl. Try out different methods and see what your pet enjoys:
- Blending in a smoothie with goat’s milk or bone broth
*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian.
About the Author:
Nicole is the founder & owner of multiple-award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut, USA. She has completed undergraduate work in biological sciences, business and holds an M.S. in Nutrition. Currently, Nicole is pursuing a PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences (Canine Nutrition/Metabolomics) at the prestigious University of Georgia in the USA.
Her background includes experience in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading figures in the human and pet health industries. Nicole has been heavily involved in police canine nutrition within the USA, helping to improve the modern care and feeding of working dogs. Her interests include working dog nutrition, raw feeding, pathogens, metabolomics, and nutrition’s relationship to disease in humans and canines. Her current research involves the exploration of the canine urinary metabolome and the relationship to diet.
Publications: Cammack, N.R., Yamka, R.M., and Adams, V.J. (2021). Low Number of Owner-Reported Suspected Transmission of Foodborne Pathogens From Raw Meat-Based Diets Fed to Dogs and/or Cats. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.741575.