Cook's Corner: Produce Pros

Enhance your dog’s meals with fruits and vegetables.

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Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, which has led many people to believe that vegetables and fruits provide no benefit to dogs. But these foods pack a big wallop when it comes to nutrition, and could help your dog live a long and healthy life. Here’s how to safely incorporate them into your dog’s diet.

Benefits of fruits and vegetables
Filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (organic plant compounds thought to improve health), fruits and veggies can help prevent certain types of cancer, protect vision, support the immune system and even prolong life.

Many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which is often helpful to dogs with digestive problems. Increased fiber can alleviate both diarrhea and constipation when used in proper amounts, but too much can actually cause these problems. Canned pumpkin (plain, not pie mix) is frequently recommended to help normalize stools because of the fiber it contains. Some forms of fiber called prebiotics nourish the beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in the intestines.

Low in fat and calories, non-starchy veggies can play an important part in diets for dogs that are overweight or need to stay lean because of arthritis, diabetes or other health problems. Starchy veggies, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squashes, provide more calories, so quantities should be limited if your dog is overweight.

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