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There are actually many foods that we eat in our daily diets that can be beneficial to dogs. The trick is making sure you know which ones are good for them and which ones to avoid for various reasons. Many fruits and vegetables are actually great substitutes for treats and add variety as well as nutritional value to your dog’s diet. Rather than giving processed treats and snacks, try adding selected vegetables and fruits to your dog’s daily fare. You will be doing them a healthy favor and will find that you can save money in the process.
Green beans happen to be one of those foods. According to the American Kennel Club, there are many enticing fruits and vegetables that your canine companions will find delectable. I would emphasize here that the most important thing is to make sure that they are on an approved list for dogs. There are some foods that can have serious health consequences to dogs if ingested, even in small amounts.
This is one of the toys I use to insert treats, the Kong Extreme, large size. It is a great tool to use, even if you have a problem eater who eats too fast. We use ours mainly for treats.
Why Green Beans Are a Healthy Alternative for Dogs
Green beans are very beneficial to dogs. They are high in nutrients while remaining low in calories. They are loaded with vitamins and iron, which is their benefit for humans as well.
One way to serve them to your dog is in the raw form. Cooking does take away some of the nutrients whether we or our dogs consume them, but do be cautious about overdoing it with raw green beans. Like all beans, green beans contain lectins (a type of protein that binds to cell membranes). An overindulgence in feeding dogs green beans can lead to nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
To avoid that, it is recommended that you simply cook the beans at least a bit before giving them to your dog, rather than serving them raw or in great quantities. Also, remember that for a smaller dog, the quantity would not have to be as much as would cause a larger dog GI distress.
Green beans contain 5% to 10% of the lectins found in kidney beans, so the amount is significantly reduced, but again, keep in mind that just quickly steaming or cooking them can reduce any gastrointestinal effects. Frozen vegetables are much preferred over canned, as most canned vegetables end up with little to no nutritional value.
Unsalted versus salted? Always go with unsalted and organic if you can afford it. You want less sodium and fewer pesticides and additives.
What Other Veggies Can Dogs Eat?
I use carrots a lot, but organic ones. In the beginning, I fastidiously chopped them up into small pieces, as I’m not a big fan of mini carrots. To me, they smell like bleach. However, I soon discovered that all that chopping was really a waste of time and probably not as good for their digestion, as they simply wolfed them down without breathing. After that, I started simply washing the carrots with a scrub brush and giving them to my dogs whole.
If they’re organic, the peel isn’t bad for them. The bigger the carrots, the better. It’s a weak substitute for a bone of course, but I don’t give my dogs bones so it makes me feel that I’m giving them some kind of tooth “workout” by allowing them to chew on big carrots. They love them and would eat them by the bag if I let them. I’ve had one of my dogs find them in my travel bag and proceed to eat up the entire stash.
If I want to put carrots in the Kong, I now put them in there in slivered long pieces. They have to work to get them out a bit more and they’re bigger pieces encouraging them to chew and not just inhale. Carrots are great for dogs, just like people, as they are high in fiber and high in vitamins. They are also low in calories, and as I mentioned, great for their teeth.
Broccoli, remarkably, is another great vegetable for your dog as it is one that is loaded with vitamins. It packs a tremendous nutritional boost. However, it can cause digestive problems and should never end up being more than 10% of your dog’s diet.
Pumpkin is another favorite and my dogs absolutely love it. It’s a great source of vitamin A as well as fiber. It can be served raw by peeling it like squash or from a can. I buy it in a can (organic) and put it in ice cube trays. I freeze it and then pop it out in pieces and put in freezer bags. I give them 1 or 2 cubes or tubes and let them chew on ice cubes made of pumpkin. This is one of their favorites and one I think they are addicted to. It’s another great treat on a hot day. Pumpkin is also recommended for dogs having digestive problems of any kind and can be beneficial for curing diarrhea or even in preventing it.
Cucumbers are another super vegetable but especially for overweight dogs. Cucumbers can increase energy levels and are high in vitamins K and C as well as B1. They also have great mineral benefits containing potassium, magnesium, and copper.
Potatoes are okay to feed our 4-legged friends, but cooked rather than raw is preferred. Raw potatoes can be hard for them to digest and/or can produce GI distress in dogs.
Celery is another great crunchy snack for dogs. One of mine loves it and the other hates it. It is probably too bland for her tastes. I like to give celery as it is super low in calories and provides another chewing opportunity. I give sweet potato pieces as well. Squash is okay for dogs but they do recommend cooking that a bit first.
Different Ways of Giving Dogs Vegetables
I use vegetables a lot for training purposes. I also use them for just plain fun. On hot summer days, I discovered that my dogs really enjoyed a Kong-type toy stuffed with frozen peas for example. It kept them busy for a while and the frozen treats that they procured from rolling it around, tipping it up and shaking out the goodies were a welcome distraction for them as well as a cooling one.
I worried that if pieces of food were too big, they might not be able to get the veggies out of the toy, but I could have saved myself that particular worry! Dogs usually become very clever at rolling the toys around to get every last morsel or just simply figuring out how to use their paws to dump it all out. My Malamute Griffin was a pro at figuring out how to get food from ball to mouth in a matter of seconds, and he had his technique perfected. Gabby is more of a "roll it around the entire house" kind of feeder, whereas Max, the Malamute puppy, is just figuring out what this new toy is all about. The fastest way he can think of is to try and squeeze it with his teeth (which actually does nothing at all), but eventually, with him tipping it around, the veggies start to magically appear. He’ll get it with more practice!
Nerf Treat Feeder Football
We bought these as Hawks' colored footballs and these also work great for feeding treats. These are a little harder to get treats out of so it takes them a bit longer. We use the Kong toy for larger treats and the Nerf footballs for smaller ones.
Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
Some of the natural foods to avoid in dogs at all costs:
- Grapes – even small amounts can lead to sudden kidney failure and death
- Cherries – contain cyanide and should be avoided
- Avocado – can lead to vomiting and diarrhea
- Mushrooms – while some are safe, it is too hard to know which kinds are nontoxic and any outdoor/wild mushrooms can poison a dog so avoid at all costs
- Onions or any related veggies such as chives, garlic, etcetera – these can be poisonous to dogs and should be avoided
- Spinach while “okay” for dogs is one to proceed with caution with. I tend to personally avoid. Too much of it can lead to kidney damage.
- Tomatoes – we should not give our dogs tomatoes for risk of them ingesting any part of the green parts as they can be toxic. The “meat” of the tomato itself is okay but I would just generally avoid them altogether for fear of contamination.
Try These Dog-Friendly Fruits
There are also many, many fruits that dogs love and enjoy. Mine routinely pull berries off the branches of our bushes and gobble them up usually before we have a chance to have some for us!
Also okay as a fruit snack – feed the flesh and not the outer harder coverings or seeds inside:
- Watermelon and cantaloupe
- Peaches and pears
- Mango and oranges
Dogs Have Discerning Tastebuds
As in any type of food you introduce to your dog, go slow. Start with a small amount and see how he or she reacts to that food. See what the after effects are in terms of stool and/or any type of allergic reactions. Some dogs will really love veggies and fruits while others look at it like it’s a foreign object. My malamutes absolutely love fruits and vegetables and will have them over a treat most times – especially the big get-to-gnaw-on-them carrots! I have found that they don’t seem to have any gastric side effects from carrots and actually eat a lot of those great organic nutrient-filled wonders!
I had a rescued malamute who was half-starved in her abusive situation. You would think she would eat just about everything. She did – except fruits and vegetables. She literally would pick them up and spit them out like they were distasteful to her. It was always amusing to see her do it. If you cooked them though and put them into her food, she would eat some of them. She had an iron stomach and would eat everything – to include a set of leather gloves. It’s always remarkable what dogs like and what they don’t when it comes to gobbling up things.
Green Beans Are Good for Dogs!
So are green beans safe for dogs to eat? Yes, they certainly are along with various and sundry other fruits and vegetables. If in doubt, always go to a reputable website and check before giving a dog anything not in their regular diet. Or ask your vet.
It also goes without saying that every dog is different and they can have allergies to certain foods just like us humans. They can also have reactions to certain foods while another dog or breed will not. Go slow, see what your canine playmate likes and responds best to, and build on it from there. Green beans are just one of the many nutritious options for dog snacks or additions to a well-balanced canine diet.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I feed my dog frozen, uncooked green beans?
Answer: Yes, you can, but it is preferred to cook them a little bit. If you give them raw (fresh or frozen) make sure you just do not give a lot in quantity.
© 2017 Audrey Kirchner