As of 2008, organic foods sales reached $21.1 billion, up from $3.6 billion in 1997. This trend means greater availability in grocery stores and elsewhere. As pet parents strive to include organic fruits and veggies in their own diets, many also wish to do so for their dogs.
Serving organics means your dog is eating foods free of pesticide residues, genetic modifications, petroleum fertilizers, and sludge-based -- think sewage -- fertilizer. Over time, exposure to these can lead to reduced immunity and other chronic health issues. So incorporating organic fruit and vegetable side dishes is a ideal way to optimize your pup's health. Your dog's diet should include around 20 percent vegetables, with some fruit as well -- just enough for some yummy side dishes.
Some vegetables, including onions and chives, are harmful to dogs. Excess garlic and tomatoes are also associated with health risks. However when choosing organic veggies, there's no shortage of choices. Dogs can eat carrots, green beans, leafy greens, pumpkin, sweet and white potatoes, beets, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini, green peas, sweet bell peppers and more. If you're unsure about whether your dog can eat a specific vegetable, ask your vet first to make sure it's safe.
As with vegetables, some fruits are bad for dogs. These include grapes and raisins, avocados, and high levels of citrus. Otherwise, many options exist. Dogs can eat apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, mango and others. Make sure all pits, stems, seeds and cores are removed from all fruits. As with humans, some dogs like certain items and dislike others. So you might find your pup adores apples but spits out strawberries. Trial and error will determine this.
Cooking and Preparation Ideas
When preparing side dishes, fruits are generally served raw. Just chop and serve. Cook vegetables if your dog isn't accustomed to eating them. Chop and saute in olive oil, or steam in a small amount of water until lightly cooked, still bright and firm. Depending on your dog's size and caloric needs, your organic side dish might be a teaspoon or a few heaping tablespoons. Your dog will enjoy the taste and the health benefits.
Adding New Foods Slowly
It's best to introduce new foods gradually. This allows your pup's body to adjust, and lets you monitor her for tummy troubles or allergic reactions. As you add new organic fruits and veggies, check the label on her current food, and remove an equal caloric amount to ensure you're not overdoing calories, fiber or carb content. As you tweak her diet, you'll gain confidence in knowing that feeding organic foods can really help optimize your pup's health.
- HelpGuide.org: Organic Foods-Understanding Organic Food Labels, Benefits and Claims
- Organic.org: The Dirty Dozen
- Canine Nutrition; William D. Cusick
- "Food: Global Industry Guide," Datamonitor 2009
- ASPCA: Feeding Your Dog Fruit & Veggies
- USDA Economic Research Service: Marketing U.S. Organic Foods: Recent Trends From Farms to Consumers
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.