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.