We may think Mom's advice to "eat your vegetables" applies only to humans, but your dog's health can also benefit when you add some nutrient-rich veggies to his diet. Steaming preserves the veggies' vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals and also helps to prevent gastrointestinal problems, such as flatulence and diarrhea.
Why Steamed Vegetables Are Good For Your Dog
Steamed veggies are good for dogs for the same reasons they're good for people. Not only do they contain vitamins and minerals to help stave off cancer and other degenerative diseases, they provide plenty of fiber that can help keep your dog's digestive system healthy. Steamed veggies are an excellent alternative treat to the processed treats you buy in the store, most of which are higher in calories and offer little nutritional value.
Scientific Proof That Veggies Are Good For Your Pet
While some people can function as vegetarians, dogs by nature are carnivores and should always have meat as the major source of their diet. Vegetables, however, can and should be included. A 2005 study by the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine showed that Scottish terriers (a breed prone to bladder cancer) fed leafy green or yellow-orange vegetables at least three times a week were 70 to 90 percent less likely to develop bladder cancer.
Vegetables Your Dog Can Eat Safely
Vegetables belonging to the cruciferous (cabbage) family -- broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage -- provide cancer-fighting antioxidants as well as anti-aging chemicals important for your dog's health. Because they may be difficult for your dog to digest, they should always be steamed. Other veggies to steam for your pup include: carrots, peppers, green beans, spinach, celery, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. While potatoes are OK, they are high in carbohydrates which can add weight.
Vegetables Your Dog Should Not Eat
While vegetables add vital nutrients to a dog's diet, there are some your doggie should never sink his teeth into. Avocados (technically a fruit, but often used in cooking as a vegetable) contain a substance called persin, which can be toxic to dogs. Be careful because besides the fruit, persin is also found in the avocado's leaves, seed and bark. Onions, chives and garlic may cause gastrointestinal problems and also could lead to red blood cell damage.
How to Steam Veggies for Your Dog
The easiest way to make healthy veggies for your dog is to use a steamer, a two-tier cooking device. Put about a half inch of water in the bottom compartment, place your washed vegetables in the top part, and turn on the burner. Once the water boils, steam will begin to cook the veggies. Cool and serve in your dog's bowl; chop into smaller bites, if needed. Limit to about a quarter of your dog's overall food intake, and serve with protein. If your dog refuses to eat steamed veggies, try pureeing them in a blender before serving.
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.