I believe that if you provide your animal companions with a variety of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, it can help him prolong his life, and even reduce the risk of certain diseases. It does not matter if you feed your cat or dog vegan diet, all dogs and cats can benefit from fruits and vegetables in their diet. Introduce new fruits and vegetables slowly into your animal's diet to avoid possible digestive issues.
Here are the top fruits and vegetables that I feed my own animal companions and also suggest to my feline and canine clients at work.
Good source of fiber, beta carotene and vitamin CPumpkin can also help with indigestion. Since pumpkin is very rich in dietary fiber, it absorbs water which makes it a great remedy for diarrhea. On the other hand, it can work as a very good stool softener, which helps as a remedy for constipation. Pumpkin puree is a wonderful remedy for diarrhea and constipation that your canine and feline companions might experience occasionally. Pumpkin puree mixed with cat food can help prevent hairballs. Pumpkin puree can also help with anal glands in dogs and cats. I usually open a can of pumpkin puree and scoop out smaller portions into an ice-cube tray and freeze that for later, or I scoop teaspoon-size balls on a medium baking sheet and freeze that. After the pumpkin balls are frozen, I put them into a Ziploc bag and keep in the freezer. That gives me small pumpkin servings for later. My dog Shelly loves those still frozen, but I also leave some out on the counter to defrost and mix in her food. Most dogs like pumpkin puree by itself, but cats prefer their pumpkin mixed in canned food. You can also add a tiny bit of cinnamon or dried ginger to the pumpkin puree if your furry baby has an upset belly. I recommend 1 to 2 teaspoons a day for small animal, or up to a tablespoon a day for a large dog. As a weight loss supplement you can replace up to 30% of your dog's or cat's daily diet with pureed pumpkin. After reaching the target weight, reduce pumpkin puree to about 10% of diet for maintenance. The high dietary fiber content in pumpkin puree will make your animals feel full which will make this "weight loss journey" more pleasant for everyone.
Good source of fiber, vitamin C, flavonoids, and potassium
Dices apples make healthy, crunchy training treats for your dog. Unsweetened applesauce can be used as a base for homemade doggie biscuits. Your dog might enjoy raw diced apples stuffed into a Kong toy, or dried apples as a nice treat when you go to the park. Apples are much healthier than dog biscuits, especially if your doggie is overweight. I would not let dogs eat the core though.
Good source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C and tannins, which help prevent urinary tract infections, by keeping bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. They also contain quinic acid, which increases the acidity of the urine. That can prevent, or alleviate, urinary track infections. Cranberries can also prevent struvite crystals, and bladder stones. Because this fruit has an anti-inflammatory effect, it can also be useful for allergies.
Both, cats and dogs, can greatly benefit from eating cranberries. Some commercial dog and cat foods and treats contains cranberries. Cranberries are very sour and acidic and most cats and dogs will not eat them raw. You can add cranberry powder (preferably freeze-dried) into their food. It blends easily in canned foods. Or you can cook some cranberries and mix them with pumpkin puree or peanut butter for dogs.
Good source of fiber, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese
Green beans make a healthy, low-calorie doggie snack. Most dogs like them frozen. I buy them frozen because the canned varieties are full of salt and the frozen ones do not have added salt. Plus the frozen green beans are cheaper than canned. If you have an overweight dog, try replacing some of her regular food with green beans. This is a great way how to fill her up on low calories, fiber rich food, and help her maintain a healthy weight.
Good source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, copper, potassium, beta carotene, and manganese
Sweet potatoes are a great hypoallergenic alternative to grain, if your dog cannot tolerate grain in his diet. They are good source of dietary fiber and help promote healthy bowel movement.
Sweet potatoes are great sliced and dehydrated as a chewy treat for dogs. You can buy sweet potato jerky at most natural pet foods stores, or online. Or you can make your own at home.
Good source of vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, fiber
Broccoli is one of the most important vegetables when it comes to fighting cancer. It is rich in nutrients that protect against many types of cancers (prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung and stomach cancer, and ovarian cancer). Broccoli can also protect against stomach ulcers. Broccoli supports immune system and wellness.
Many cats and dogs like raw and cooked broccoli as a healthy snack, or mixed in their food.
My dog Shelly was chubby several years ago. She lost almost 10 pounds by just reducing her regular food and replacing some of it with pureed pumpkin and green beans. I replaced her dog biscuits with sweet potato jerky, frozen green beans and raw fruits and vegetables. I took her for longer and more frequent walks which helped, too.
She gained a few pounds back because I started giving her some biscuits and peanut butter, but she is at a very healthy weight now. She loves raw cucumber, zucchini, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, banana, apple, peas, green beans, blueberries, and baby carrots. Her favorite treats besides raw fruits and vegetables are vegan pumpkin & cranberry, and pumpkin & apple dog cookies, and sweet potato jerky.
Dogs and cats do not have the digestive enzymes necessary to break down cellulose walls of certain fruits and vegetables so they might not absorb all the vitamins and minerals and other nutrients when eating these fruits and veggies. To make these fruits and vegetables bio-available for our animals, you need to break down the cellulose walls for them.
Here is what you can do:
*Puree some veggies or fruits in a blender or a food processor
*Use the pulp that is left after juicing your own fruits and vegetables
*Cook or steam the vegetables
*Use canned vegetables without added salt
*Use pure canned sweet potato, pumpkin or butternut squash puree
Onions and grapes (raisins) are toxic to cats and dog, so avoid giving them to your animals.
If your dog or cat suffers from bad arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, avoid or limit feeding vegetables from the nightshade family (such as eggplant, tomatoes and peppers), as they can aggravate inflammatory conditions.
Spinach and Swiss chard contain oxalic acid, so avoid those if your animal has calcium oxalate bladder stones.
Do your cats and dogs eat fruits and vegetables? What are their favorite?