For people, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables are pillars of any balanced diet. Does that mean they’re essential for our pets as well? Not quite, but many make for great treats and some can even play an important role in helping pets thrive.
Don’t forget that dogs, unlike cats, are naturally omnivorous. That means they’re far more likely to take an honest interest in your fruit salad or bed of greens.
5 safe fruits for dogs and cats
High-fiber, low-fat apples boast hefty portions of Vitamins A and C. However, be sure to exercise caution around apples. While the flesh (and even the peel) are perfectly safe, apple seeds and cores contain a cyanide-like substance. It can cause paralysis and death if ingested in excess. This is also true of pears and oranges.
A perfect bite-sized alternative to more traditional treats, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants to promote healthy cells and tissue. They also provide Vitamin C and fiber!
Skinned and safely cut into wedges, cantaloupes are a delicious, vitamin-rich treat. Potential benefits include everything from improved eyesight to reduced cancer risk.
The tart taste of cranberries isn’t for everybody, but the fruit has potential benefits for dogs, cats, and people alike. Rich in manganese, as well as Vitamins C and E, cranberries are pet-safe in nearly every form. Watch out for sugary cranberry products like cranberry juice and cranberry sauce which shouldn’t be fed to pets.
This picnic staple is the perfect summer fruit for a reason. Made up of 92% water, it's not just a tasty treat, but a hydrating one as well. Watermelon also supports your pet’s nerves and muscles with potassium, thiamin, and Vitamin-B6.
3 fruits that are dangerous for pets
The list of dangerous fruits is comparatively short, but that doesn’t mean pet owners should let their guard down.
Whether mashed onto toast or mixed into guacamole, avocados include a toxin called persin. Most is found on the outside of the fruit, but even a taste of the inner avocado can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea in pets.
Another tasty fruit harboring a poisonous secret, cherries contain cyanide. While harmless to humans, this small amount can be deadly for dogs and cats. Watch out for warning signs like dilated pupils and labored breathing if you suspect your pet may have eaten a cherry.
Both fresh grapes and raisins are known to cause kidney failure in dogs and cats. The American Kennel Club notes that they have observed this response in numerous breeds and that an animal’s age and sex do not seem to be a factor. Otherwise, details around how and why this response occurs remain scarce.
Just because a food isn’t toxic doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe. In addition to keeping the above fruits out of reach, pet parents should take care to make sure a healthy snack doesn’t suddenly become a health risk. Large chunks of fruit and inedible portions like rinds, pits, and cores present a choking risk -- especially for small dogs and cats.
5 vegetables that pets can safely eat
Providing iron, folate, fiber, and a host of vitamins, asparagus is a delicious and nutritious treat. Make sure to cook the asparagus and cut it into small pieces so it’s safe to chew, swallow, and digest.
The beta-carotene found in carrots is an important building block for healthy skin and eyes. What’s more, the crunchy texture is especially great for teething dogs and cats.
Though its virtually calorie free, celery contains a number of nutrients including Vitamins A and B. Chewing on celery can even help freshen your cat or dog’s breath.
These vegetables pack a ton of vitamins and nutrients into a small package. Feed some to your cat or dog and you’ll add calcium, fiber, folic acid, and more to their diet.
All raw potatoes present health risks to dogs and cats. If cooked, however, sweet potatoes can be a great treat for pets to try. Sweet potato is full of fiber that aids with digestion and a long list of vitamins offer health benefits for the entire body.
Avoid serving vegetables with additional fats or seasonings. Though they can make bland vegetables pop with flavor, they’re also a common culprit for indigestion and diarrhea in pets. Watch out for canned vegetables as well, which tend to contain a heap of sodium.
3 vegetables that are dangerous for cats and dogs
Just a small fraction of the world’s mushroom species is poisonous. Still, even the remote chance of poisoning makes these tasty vegetables far too risky to share with pets.
The entire Allium family (which also includes chives, garlic, and leeks) is highly toxic and should be kept away from pets at all times. Even powdered onion or garlic can lead to vomiting, stomach pain, and other severe symptoms.
All parts of the rhubarb plant contain soluble oxalate crystals. When ingested, these crystals are absorbed by the digestive tract. In pets, this can result in poor calcium absorption and kidney failure.
Too much of a good thing
Vegetables and fruits should never replace specially designed pet foods as your cat or dog’s primary source of energy and nutrition. High-sugar fruits like bananas and strawberries may pack vitamins that traditional treats lack, but all that sugar adds up over time. Both fruit and packaged treats can lead to diabetes as well as weight gain, which may exacerbate or cause other chronic issues. Combined, they should not account for more than 10% of a pet’s daily calories.
A vegetable-centric diet provides access to an alphabet’s worth of vitamins and probably will not cause your pet to pack on the pounds. That doesn’t mean it’s advisable to over-feed vegetables. Both cats and dogs require more daily protein than they’re likely to find in vegetables alone.
A Safe Introduction
Whatever your pet’s tastes and health needs always introduce new foods gradually to avoid adverse reactions. Consult your veterinarian before making any major dietary changes and seek immediate medical care if your pet exhibits strange behavior or sudden symptoms.
Pet insurance can help reimburse you for unexpected vet bills if your pet consumes something that isn’t safe. PetPartners policyholders also can access the 24/7 Vet Helpline for assistance with pet health emergencies and everyday pet health questions.