Most of our dogs will have a set meal time, and a certain food product that we’ve chosen for them. Whether that’s raw, kibble, tinned, pre-made by a dog food company or bought from the pet shop, dinner time always gets tails wagging.
And so does snack time. In recent years, dog snacks have become more unusual – boring biscuits are soooo last season, as we treat our dogs to everything from liver treats and fishy-based nibbles to exotic animal meats like ostrich.
But have you ever tried giving your dog fruit and veg? It might feel strange, but there are plenty of crunchy and chewy things you might eat yourself that your DD will enjoy too.
From cucumber and carrots to sweet potato, here’s some ideas you can try. And, if you’re feeling brave, you could even try turning the fruit, vegetables and herbs into some tasty treats, too.
The Happy Dog Cookbook from Tails.com is a fantastic selection with loads of recipes to try, including carrot and peanut butter bones and summer berry biscuits. They might sound more like the kind of fare you’d find on the Great British Bake Off, but these concoctions prove that dogs can eat a wide range of fruit, veg and herbs, and you’ll love seeing their enjoyment of something different and home-made.
Fruit and veg doesn’t just mean a different treat, there’s other reasons why it is a great thing to try with your dog. Of course, there’s the texture and taste – think of the crunch of a carrot or the ‘pop’ of a pea in their mouth. But there’s also vitamins and minerals, as well as a boost to their gut health and fibre.
Here’s some easy things to try before you jump into the recipes
Cheap and easy to hand to your pet, carrots give a gorgeous crunch for those gums – especially if you keep them chilled in the fridge before feeding them out. Cut up into small pieces and use as a training treat, or give as batons for a post-walk reward before your dog settles down for a snooze.
Making a crumble? Why not give your pooch some of that crunchy apple, too. Apple is a good choice if your dog is watching its weight because apple is low in fat, and packed with vitamins A and C. Sliced up, an apple can be a post-lunch treat, or try it dipped in a bit of dog-friendly peanut butter to boost energy after a long weekend walk.
This might seem like a strange one, but it’s another winner for your DD’s dinner. Two things to bear in mind here – it needs the skin removing and it must be cooked. A good source of fibre, vitamin A and C, this is a sweet treat they’ll love, but make sure you feed in moderation.
For a full-on tropical experience, you can also feed your dog pineapple and orange! Bananas are a ‘treat’ food rather than a daily reward because they’re higher in sugar. Mash a little into a Kong treat toy to keep them entertained.
Blackberries and blueberries
These can be quite amusing to offer as some dogs might find them a little sour! We humans often put blueberries on our granola or porridge for an antioxidant boost, so why not do the same for your DD and add a few to his or her breakfast? You might even notice your DD picking some berries from the bushes on a walk at the right time of year (be careful to make sure they’re ones they can eat!). This is another one to have in moderation because berries have also got lots of natural sugar.
Some rules for doggy fruit, veg and herb feeding:
As with any treats, be careful on quantities and how often you feed your pet such foods;
Watch out for any reactions or changes in their poop, in case your dog and their tummy isn’t as keen on one fruity food as another. Also be warned, just like it can with humans, fresh veg can sometimes create wind!
Try small to start with. A nibble of carrot or banana, for example, rather than a whole one. You can always chop the fruit or veg up small and use it in a game of sit, stay or add it to a training toy like a dispensing ball.
Remember your DD has a strong sense of smell, so these foods will seem super exotic and strange to them at first. Offer the food in a calm way, and reward with praise if they eat it nicely. Let them play with the food if they don’t eat it straight away - they might want to nudge some carrot around the kitchen, sniffing it, for example, before they go for the crunch.
Get cooking! Making recipes for your dog from ‘human’ foods is a fun way to build your relationship – and develop your cooking skills. This is a good way to add herbs too, with many dogs enjoying parsley and mint, which can play a part in easing any doggy-breath.
Fruit and vegetables to avoid:
Dogs aren’t able to eat (and this list isn’t exhaustive!) grapes, figs, cherries, avocado or apricots. Also watch out for seeds and pips. Be with your dog whenever they are trying a new food and watch for any negative reactions.
Rolled oat and strawberry “jammy dodgers” from Tails.com