Trupanion veterinarian, Sarah Nold, DVM, offers expert advice on incorporating fruits and vegetables into your pet’s diet, including which fruits and vegetables have the biggest health benefits and what to do if you believe your cat or dog may have a food allergy.
Adding fruits and vegetables to your pet’s diet will help ensure that they’re getting plenty of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, to help them stay strong and healthy and boost their immune system. Pet treats can also be high in calories, so fruits and vegetables can provide a healthier alternative.
I recommend moderation of any fruit or vegetable, even if considered safe. In addition, if their dog/cat is being treated by a veterinarian for an underlying medical condition it would be recommended to consult with the veterinarian before starting any new fruit or vegetable.
Small amounts of vegetables can be incorporated into your pet’s regular food at meal times, or pea-sized pieces of fruits or vegetables can be given to your pet as a healthy, low-calorie snack. However, avoid feeding your pet fruits such as strawberries, bananas, and pineapple too often as they contain high levels of sugar. Totally avoid grapes, raisins, cherries and persimmons that can be toxic if not cause stomach upsets.
In the same way that chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs, some fruits and vegetables are too. Onions, garlic, wild mushrooms, avocado, and rhubarb are all poisonous to pets, and corn is also a common allergen. You should also avoid feeding grapes and raisins to your pet, as they can cause kidney damage.
You should always gradually, in moderation introduce any new fruits and vegetables to your pet’s diet to avoid any stomach upsets. Feed your pet small amounts of the fruit or vegetable to begin with, and always introduce one type of fruit or vegetable at a time so if your pet does have an adverse reaction, it will be easier for you to determine the cause. Corn may be an allergen, however it is a lot less common then others (including beef, dairy, wheat, chicken and egg in dogs). Beef, dairy and fish are considered the most common food allergens in cats.
Symptoms of a food allergy include sickness, diarrhea, and skin problems, however your veterinarian will be able to confirm for sure if your pet has an allergy and can advise on the best course of action.
Steer clear of: Never feed your pet onions or garlic as they are toxic in all forms: cooked, raw, and even onion powder. These cause damage to the red blood cells, ultimately causing them to burst. Rhubarb and wild mushrooms also contain toxins. We suggest avoiding corn as it is a common allergen among pets.
The following vegetables are suitable for your dog or cat to eat. Consider steaming or boiling cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, as they are much easier to digest when cooked. Cats may need the vegetables to be pureed, or for convenience can be fed a vegetable baby food without onions or garlic.
- Bell Peppers (red, green, orange, yellow)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato
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