In our last article, we talked about the health benefits of berries for our canine companions. Now that the garden season is in full force and farmers’ markets are popping up on every corner, we thought it would be great to discuss what vegetables are considered to not only be safe for your pups, but are also serve as beneficially healthy alternatives to those overly processed store bought treats.
As we plot out our gardens, here are some of the vegetables we ensure we make extra room for so that we can share with our fur-kids:
Our girls LOVE carrots! While I am sure they enjoy the taste of carrots, I personally think they enjoy the crunchiness even more. Not only are carrots a low calorie snack, but they are also a great source of fiber and vitamin A. Furthermore, the crunchy texture can also help to support healthy teeth and gums.
Another staple in our garden is celery, which is the perfect low-fat, low-calorie snack for all of our waistlines (humans and canines alike)! Celery provides a number of essential nutrients and vitamins including vitamins A, C, and K; folate; potassium; and manganese. Furthermore, it is an excellent source of fiber. It can pose as a choking hazard, so we recommend cutting it up in smaller pieces to avoid this from occurring.
While cucumbers may not offer a ton of beneficial nutrients to your canine companion, they do offer a healthy low calorie, non-fat treat option with a satisfying crunch. We like to use cucumbers as an alternative training treat on especially hot days as their high water content can help keep your pup hydrated while they are working hard to keep up with you on that afternoon walk.
I consider green beans to be a “super treat” for our dogs. They are not only full of fiber and low in calories, but they are also loaded with beneficial nutrients such such as iron, calcium, protein, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. It is important to note that while all green beans (chopped, steamed, raw, or frozen) are good for our canine friends, they should be served plain (no added salt or spices.)
If our dogs could talk, they would tell you their favorite season is Fall. Why is that? Well, that is the time of year when we harvest the pumpkins and those are their most favorite vegetable of all! Pumpkin is high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol, and loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. Furthermore, it’s high fiber content has been proven to be beneficial to your pet’s digestive tract. One tip though: if using canned pumpkin, please be sure that it is pumpkin puree and NOT canned pumpkin pie. For ideas on how to serve up this tasty treat for your pup, check out our pumpkin treat recipe we shared in a prior article!
As with all things, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So, be cautious of over-feeding your pup with any kind of treat, including any of these healthy options.
Till next time, “Keep Calm and Hug your Labrador!”
It is spring, right? Although it may still feel like winter throughout much of the country, the calendar says that it is, in fact, spring, so that means here at the farm we are gearing up for another busy garden season. The seedlings are growing strong, the flowers are all peaking through the ground, and the buds on the trees are ready to burst open…if only the weather would cooperate.
Like every year at this time, when plotting out the garden, I always take into consideration what fruits and vegetables are suitable for providing healthy snack options for our canine kids. We spend a lot of our day training for the show ring and field, so having a variety of low-fat, low-sugar treats helps to not only to keep their waistlines trim, but also to hold their attention.
Since we are headed into berry season, here is the low-down on our two favorite berry treats we enjoy sharing with our canine friends:
We grow our blueberries in containers located in a sunny spot right outside the kennel. The easy access is perfect for that quick need to reward a good behavior, though I will be honest and say I have also caught one of the girls helping herself to a blueberry or two! But that is okay, as these “superfoods” are not just good for humans, but they also provide an array of healthy benefits for our pooches. In fact, you will find a number of health conscious dog food companies, such as Life’s Abundance, who include blueberries in their food and treat products. Why are they so healthy? Well, to start with, they provide a plethora of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, all of which help boost your pup’s immunity, strengthens his brain, and helps to fight off cancer.
Another staple in our garden is strawberries. Like blueberries, these sweet treats contain antioxidants, plenty of vitamin C and fiber, and even contain an enzyme that helps to whiten your pup’s teeth. Strawberries are also a great source of folate, potassium, and manganese, all of which support the immune system, help muscles to function normally, and fight cellular damage.
I am often asked about feeding raspberries to our dogs. Similar to blueberries and strawberries, raspberries can be a healthy snack option for your pup; however, we caution you to exercise moderation when rewarding your furry friend with this sweet treat. While raspberries are a great source of vitamin C, K, B-complex, antioxidants, and fiber, they also contain high amounts of naturally occurring xylitol, which is considered to be very toxic to dogs. As with all things, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So, be cautious of over-feeding your pup with any kind of treat, including any of these healthy berries.
Till next time, “Keep Calm and Hug your Labrador!”
Even though it’s still February, we cannot help but feel a bit of spring fever here at the farm. With temperatures in the 60’s and spring less than 30 days away, our energy is centered on waking up from winter’s hibernation. Just this past weekend we were out tilling the garden, cleaning out all the perennial flower beds, and pruning back all the lifeless debris in order to make room for the new spring growth.
If you have been to Ashling Place Farm, you know that in addition to keeping ourselves busy with raising Labrador Retrievers, we also maintain a fairly large garden that not only feeds our family and many of our friends, but also fills our roadside market stand. Since we grow many of our garden vegetables from seed, we have been sorting through all the various seed catalogues since January, carefully selecting the varieties that we hope will bless us with a bountiful harvest in the coming season.
Part of our planning process for deciding what to grow includes choosing vegetables that also serve as healthy treats for our dogs. Here is a list of the "dog-approved" fruits and vegetables that we love to grow for our canine kids:
Apples: High in fiber and a great source of Vitamins A and C, apples are a healthy treat for your canine companion. Remember to remove the core and seeds as these are not safe for your dog to eat.
Blueberries: Not only are blueberries considered a superfood for humans, but they provide just as many health benefits to our furry canine friends. Packed with antioxidants and fiber, they can be a healthy, low-fat replacement for the usual calorie dense training treats.
Carrots: Low in calories, yet high in fiber and Vitamin A. An added bonus is that the dogs love the crunchy texture that is also excellent for their gums and teeth.
Cucumbers: Low in calories, but loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1. They also contain essential nutrients such as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin.
Celery: Another crunchy treat that dogs love that comes packed with heart healthy vitamins like A, B, and C.
Pumpkin: High in fiber, pumpkin is not only good for our dogs’ digestive systems, but it has also been shown to be beneficial for dogs that suffer from urinary incontinence and can even help with weight management
Strawberries: These are a favorite summer snack for our girls…they steel them off the plants just as the fruit becomes ripe enough to pick! Strawberries are rich in fiber and vitamin C, but be cautious of how much you allow your dog to have as they also contain a bit of sugar.
Sweet Potatoes: Packed with nutrients, including fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C, they make an excellent treat for your dog as long as they are served washed, peeled, and cooked. Do not serve your furry friend potatoes that have been doctored with seasonings or sugars.
Not all vegetables are safe for our fur-kids, so be sure to do your research and check with your veterinarian before slipping them a treat from your garden. However, replacing your dog’s dense, high-fat processed treats with a few of these healthy fruits and vegetables could be one of the best things you can do for your pet’s health.