Best in Season: 9 Vegetables & Herbs to Boost Your Dog’s Bowl This Spring/Summer

Updated: Nov 4

Ahh, the sweet smell of spring is finally here. The sun is thawing the last traces of winter, the trees are blooming, and the ground is popping off with green shoots everywhere you look. The sheer abundance of spring is more than just a warm-up for the heat of summer, though—it also means we’re finally in the season of fresh, local produce! It might not surprise you to know that all of us here at RDBK are chomping at the bit to get started on our summer gardens, and not because we love playing in the dirt as much as our dogs—it’s because we know about all the great ways to supplement their diet with veggies!

Best in Season: 9 Vegetables & Herbs to Boost Your Dog’s Bowl This Spring/Summer

Index


Sourcing: Gardening VS Foraging VS Shopping

Whether it’s growing it, finding it, or purchasing it, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these methods of using fresh vegetables to supplement your pet’s meals. If you’ve got the space to do it, gardening can be a relaxing and rewarding way to spend some time in your yard and an inexpensive way to give your dog access to healthy and organic bowl-boosting treats. However, this method takes time, and if you don’t have a green thumb then you might not see the expected “fruits” of your labour.


If you’ve got a keen eye for plants and an adventurous nature, then foraging can cut down your costs even further, but you’ve got to be careful. Not only can plants in public areas be sprayed with pesticides, but some foraged plants can be deadly. Mushrooms are a prime example: while they’re bountiful in some areas, almost every mushroom has a poisonous doppelganger. Never eat or give wild mushrooms to your dog unless you are 100% certain they’re safe. Remember that it’s only foraging if it’s growing in the wild—“finding” carrots in your neighbour's garden doesn’t count!


Finally, purchasing fresh veggies is obviously the easiest but most expensive method of boosting your pet’s bowl. Try and buy from your local farmer’s market to ensure you get the best quality and support local, organic farmers!


Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best spring vegetables and what they can do for your dog!

Goose with a carrot


9 Vegetables & Herbs to Boost Your Dog’s Bowl This Spring/Summer


1) Carrots

Nutrients:

High-fiber, contains beta-carotene and vitamin A.

Benefits:

Dogs delight in sinking their teeth into these crunchy treats—they even help clean some surface plaque! Vitamin A helps keep their coat shiny and healthy and supports their immune system and eye health. The soluble fiber content can also help out their digestive system and make their walks to the bathroom a little less, shall we say, strenuous.

How to Prepare:

Raw or frozen, even cooked or juiced, your dog can enjoy a carrot just about any way! Frozen carrots are great for soothing teething puppies (and saving your furniture, shoes, and arms from their insatiable new teeth). Just remember to give your dog an appropriately sized carrot—never use baby carrots, as they’re the perfect size to become a choking hazard.


2) Green Beans

Nutrients:

Iron, manganese, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, B6, C, and K.

Benefits:

The iron in green beans promotes red blood cell production as well as healthy bones and teeth, while the manganese and vitamin K assist with blood clotting and wound healing. Vitamin B6 helps regulate your dog’s metabolism, while vitamin C battles oxidation.

How to Prepare:

Green beans are just the right length for your dog to try and scarf down while being large enough to become a choking hazard, so remember to cut up these little snacks into bite-size pieces. But beyond that, green beans are best served raw, plucked fresh from your garden! You could also boil or steam them, but like most foods, they tend to lose some of their nutritional value when cooked.

Bonus: The Green Bean Diet.

If you have a particularly chunky dog, you may have heard of the green bean diet, where you slowly increase the portion of your dog’s diet from 10% green beans to up to 50%. Because green beans are so high in fiber and water, they can help with weight loss while still helping your dog feel full. However, we strongly discourage this method. The green bean diet is essentially a crash diet for your dog: it might work to shed some pounds quickly, but your dog won’t be getting the full spectrum of nutrients they need to thrive.


3) Artichokes

Nutrients:

Vitamin B3, C, folate, potassium, magnesium, and so. Much. Fiber!

Benefits:

The antioxidants in artichokes can support your dog’s liver health and potentially prevent cancer, and the potassium helps produce the electrical charges in the heart, nerves, and muscles. Meanwhile, the folate in artichokes is responsible for metabolic functions like red blood cell production, and the high fiber content ensures everything they eat keeps running smoothly on its way out.

How to Prepare:

Artichokes can be fed raw, but make sure to dice them into small, bite-sized pieces; otherwise, they can pose a serious choking hazard. Avoid canned artichokes, no matter how convenient they may seem—they’re often packaged with too much salt and too much acid from the vinegar, spices, or citric acid. Don’t overfeed artichokes either; they contain so much fiber they can ease your dog’s bowel movements almost too much—if you catch our drift.

Cucumbers for dogs

4) Cucumber

Nutrients:

Vitamins C, K, and potassium.

Benefits:

Cucumbers are mostly water, so this is a crunchy, hydrating treat for your pup!

How to Prepare:

Most of the nutrients from cucumbers are in the peel, so keep those on when treating your dog. Remember to slice up a cucumber treat to prevent choking—about half a cup of slices should do.


5) Radishes

Nutrients:

Potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.

Benefits:

Radishes are a low-calorie, low-glycemic treat, especially for dogs struggling with their weight or diabetes. As a bonus, their rough texture means they can help scrape off surface plaque from your dog’s teeth to promote good dental health!

How to Prepare:

Try and choose white radishes like daikon or winter radishes—they have less of a peppery flavour than other strains and may be more palatable for your pup. Even daikon and winter radishes might still be too strong tasting for every dog, so try just a little to start and see if they take to it. Remove the green stem, peel, chop up the radish into bite-size pieces, and feed raw! Remember that not every plant with the word “radish” is the same or suitable for your dog: horseradish is far too spicy for fido, and wild radish is toxic.


6) Spinach

Nutrients:

Vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as magnesium, antioxidants, iron, and soluble fibers.

Benefits:

Spinach is a superfood for our dogs in the same way it’s good for us. Its iron, antioxidants, and fiber content helps stimulate your dog’s GI tract, and its mix of vitamins supports your dog’s coat, immune system, heart, and eye health. What’s not to love?

How to Prepare:

The benefits of spinach for dogs aren’t without their controversy. Because spinach is high in oxalic acid, a compound that blocks calcium absorption, it should be fed with caution to dogs with kidney issues, or those with a tendency or predisposition to produce oxalate bladder stones. Spinach should only be fed in small amounts—but a small amount is really all you need! A few tablespoons or leaves are perfect for most dogs. Either chop it up or steam the leaves to help your pup digest it.


7) Parsley

Nutrients:

Vitamins A, C, K, and trace amounts of ​​potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Benefits:

Parsley is a verifiable super-herb! Its high levels of vitamin K mean it has natural anti-inflammatory properties and supports healthy blood clotting. It’s also a potent diuretic, flushing excess water from tissues. Finally, its antimicrobial properties mean it freshens your dog’s breath, so you can actually embrace all those little puppy kisses without cringing!

How to Prepare:

First and foremost, not all parsleys are created equal. ((Only serve your dog curly parsley—NOT the flat-leaf or Italian kind, as that particular strain can be toxic to your pup.)) In addition, because it’s such a powerful diuretic, your dog only needs a little sprinkled on their meals. Don’t feed parsley if they have any kidney issues—their kidneys shouldn’t be working harder than they have to!

Dadelion Greens for dogs

8) Dandelion Greens

Nutrients:

Vitamins A, B complex, C, D, and K; they’re incredibly high in protein, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese.

Benefits:

When we say dandelion greens are “incredibly high” in the nutrients listed above, we mean it: these superfoods have 3 times more calcium AND iron than broccoli and 15 times more vitamin A and they. have an amazing detoxifying effect on the liver and gallbladder. They’re also a mild digestive stimulant, so you can feed a little to your dog to fire up their appetite! An added bonus? If gardening isn’t your thing, you can still join in on the freshly foraged food train—it’s not like these ubiquitous weeds need any help to grow!

How to Prepare:

The most important part of collecting dandelion greens is to ensure they’re from an area that is unlikely to be sprayed with pesticide—your own backyard is ideal if you treat your lawn naturally! Even if you’re 99% sure they’re safe, wash them like you plan on eating them yourself (which, surprise! You could. Dandelion greens are just as good for you as they are for your dog!). Pick dandelion greens early in the spring before the yellow flower blooms, or even before the white puff appears, if you can; they’re still edible afterwards, but they become quite bitter. While the entire plant is edible, aim to take just the leaves of the plant, not the stem—that sticky, milky white sap can have a laxative effect.


9) Bee Pollen

Nutrients:

Vitamins A, B complex, C, K, and E, as well as high levels of chromium, antioxidants, folic acid, several digestive enzymes, and essential fatty acids (EFA’s): primarily omega-3s, with a bit of omega-6 in the mix. It’s an all-around powerhouse of a supplement!

Benefits:

Alternate sources of EFA’s are usually a good thing to offer your dog—they have a frankly insane amount of benefits for your dog’s long-term health, to the point where we wrote an entire blog on them (check it out below!). Some of the enzymes found in bee pollen include amylase and phosphatase, which can work to increase your dog’s digestion and nutrient absorption—essentially, getting more benefits out of their food! In addition, bee pollen can boost your dog’s metabolism, promote a healthy liver, and finally, acts as a natural antihistamine through the antioxidant quercetin to help potentially reduce allergy symptoms, particularly environmental allergies!

How to Prepare:

The closer to your home (or where you tend to walk your dog) the bee pollen is harvested, the better chance it has of helping with your dog’s seasonal allergies. Look for organic options if possible (as in, the bees have only been pollinating organic plants). Start with ⅓ of a teaspoon for a 50lb dog and monitor them closely to ensure they don’t have any sensitivities. If they seem to be taking to it well, slowly increase their dose to 1 teaspoon a day. North Hound life makes a great Canadian Bee Pollen product.


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Growing a Healthy Diet

If your dog is already on the RDBK train, either with our Foundations or Everyday lines, then you know we’ve already included all the vegetables your dog needs, and then some! That said, adding some variety to their meals is a great way to build an optimal diet over time, not to mention it keeps things interesting—they’ll never know what fresh additions you’ll be adding to their dinner!