Dog getting fed banana

Pet-friendly produce

Fruits and veggies dogs can eat (and might love, too)

Story by Bailey Gilliam

Ever wonder whether your furry friend might like the same fruits and veggies as you do? The practice of sharing our meals with canines dates back to their ancestral wolf days. These days feeding “people food” to pets is often frowned upon, but sharing with them healthy fruits and vegetables is not just safe but beneficial for our four-legged companions.

Dogs are omnivores and thrive on a diet that includes both meat and plants. Although commercial dog food is formulated to be complete and balanced, incorporating fresh produce offers additional nutrients. Think of a crunchy carrot over a processed treat — it’s a no-brainer for a health boost. However, it’s important to remember that these foods are supplements, not meal replacements. Introduce new foods gradually to gauge your dog’s enjoyment and digestive response. Veterinarians Dr. Laurel Berry and Dr. Matthew Dixon from Hilton Head Humane suggest beginning your exploration of vegetable and fruit additions to your pet’s diet with nutritious options such as carrots, green beans, blueberries or cucumbers.

Jennifer Taylor is the executive director and founder of Renegade Paws Rescue, an animal rescue organization with 30 kennels and hundreds of foster dogs in Savannah and Bluffton. 

“I see firsthand how food impacts a dog’s weight, digestion, skin, mood and other aspects of their overall health,” Taylor said. “Because the quality of dog food brands varies significantly, adding fresh fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, blueberries and peas is always a great way to add vital nutrients to a dog’s body.” 

Taylor further cautions about the potential dangers of certain fruits and vegetables, including avocados, cherries, grapes, tomatoes and onions, which can be toxic to dogs. 

“Check with your vet before introducing new foods to your furry friend,” she said.

Always remove seeds or pits, as many contain trace amounts of cyanide. Skip canned fruits to avoid added sugars. Cut produce into manageable, bite-sized pieces to prevent choking hazards. Though not all dogs will take to every fruit or vegetable, here’s a rundown of top picks for pet-friendly produce. 

A red apple on a dog's head.

An apple a day

Apples are an excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as fiber for your dog. They are low in protein and fat, making them the perfect snack for senior dogs. Just be sure to remove the seeds and core first. Try them frozen for an icy warm-weather snack. You can also add them to homemade dog treats.

That’s bananas

Bananas are a good source of potassium for dogs. Potassium is good for muscle building and blood vessel function and helps regulate the acidity of a dog’s body fluids. Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, which helps metabolize proteins and regulates blood cell function so the blood can bring more oxygen to the brain and muscle. They also contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects a dog’s cells from damage and helps build cartilage. There are many ways to give bananas to your dog, but the most basic method is simply to mash a bit of banana and mix it with your dog’s food.

Dog`s nose poking out of black grape

Berry cool

Blueberries are a superfood rich in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage in humans and canines alike. They’re also packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, fiber and phytochemicals. The size of blueberries is perfect for teaching your dog tricks, (think training treats), and they are fun for tossing to your pooch. Rinse, serve whole, mash lightly or find this powerhouse fruit as a popular ingredient for blueberry dog treats, sometimes in combination with other superfoods like yogurt.

Carrot and stick

Carrots are an excellent low-calorie snack that are high in fiber and beta-carotene, which produces vitamin A. They are also loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Carrots have magnesium, manganese, most of the B vitamins and phosphorus, which is required for energy production, among other things. Plus, crunching on this orange root vegetable is great for your dog’s teeth. They’re crunchy, sweet and well-liked by most dogs. Carrots are included as an ingredient in many dog foods as well as plenty of carrot dog treats. Start slowly: too much fiber may cause your dog to get a bit gassy. If your pup isn’t interested, try soaking lightly steamed carrots in chicken broth to increase their appeal.

Better than a greenie

Chopped, steamed, raw, or canned – all types of green beans are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they are plain. This veggie makes a perfect addition to any pup’s dinner. An excellent low-calorie source of vitamin K and fiber, these veggies also contain vitamin C, carotenoids, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron and manganese. Opt for no-salt canned green beans to add to your dog’s food, or try frozen green beans for a fun enrichment snack.

a dog wants to eat a ripe orange apricot from a woman's hand

Hiya, papaya

Papayas are loved for their sweet taste and vibrant color by both people and dogs. This tropical fruit contains papain, an enzyme often used as a meat tenderizer. It assists in the breakdown of proteins and is considered a digestive aid. Ripe papaya is an excellent source of carotenoids and potent antioxidants and is also high in vitamin C, most of the B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and fiber. These nutrients benefit a dog’s eye health, blood vessel integrity and joint function. Scoop out the ripe papaya and serve it as a snack for your pup. Be sure to remove the seeds because they sport a peppery flavor that may be too much for your dog.

Such a stalker

Celery is totally safe for dogs to eat. In addition to vitamins A, B and C, this crunchy green snack contains the nutrients needed to promote a healthy heart and possibly fight cancer. As if that weren’t enough, celery is also known to freshen doggy breath. Slice celery up in some food, or give your dog a stick to munch on. Find celery dog chews for an option any dog would enjoy.

Beagle dog asks for cucumber in the kitchen

Cool as a cucumber

Cucumbers are especially good for overweight dogs (and people), as they hold little to no carbohydrates or fat, and they are full of satiating hydration. They’re loaded with vitamins K, C and B1 as well as potassium, copper, magnesium and biotin. Cool cucumbers are an excellent hot weather treat if your dog enjoys them, and you can even freeze slices for a fun enrichment snack. 

Peachy keen

Small amounts of cut-up fresh or frozen peaches are a great source of fiber and vitamin A, but the pit does contain cyanide. As long as you completely cut the flesh away from the peach pit, then fresh peach flesh can be a great summer treat. Skip canned peaches, as they usually contain high amounts of sugary syrups. Even canned or jarred peaches “in natural juice” have more sugar than any dog needs. Frozen peach slices can be a fun, hot-weather snack for dogs.

Dog dalmatian and pineapple on a white background. Open mouth

Pineapple of my eye

A few chunks of pineapple are a great sweet treat for dogs, as long as the prickly outside peel and crown are removed first. This tropical fruit is full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. It also contains bromelain, an enzyme that makes it easier for dogs to absorb proteins. As with other fruits, don’t choose canned or packaged pineapple. Always opt for fresh snacks. You also can find pineapple dog treats for a taste of the islands on the go.

A great pear

Pears are a great snack because they’re high in copper, vitamins C and K and fiber. If you’re sharing pears with your dog, just be sure to cut the pear flesh into bite-size chunks, and remove the pit and seeds first, as the seeds contain traces of cyanide. Skip canned or jarred pears with sugary syrups, even the ones labeled “in their own juice.” You can also find pear dog treats with other functional ingredients like duck or salmon. 

Dog with pumpkins. Shetland Sheepdog. Thanksgiving day. Fall season. Halloween holidays. Sheltie dog breed

Some pumpkins

Pumpkin is low in calories and full of antioxidants, but its superpower is that it’s high in soluble fiber and works to relieve both diarrhea and constipation in dogs. It is low in sodium and exceptionally high in carotenoids, potassium and vitamin C and has some calcium and B vitamins. Pumpkin can be used as a fat substitute when making dog treats. If you’re buying canned pumpkin, always choose 100% pumpkin puree, or you can roast pumpkin in the oven or steam and mash it. There are many pumpkin supplements and pumpkin dog treats for dogs to enjoy.

Rootin for ya

The humble rutabaga is a healthy veggie for dogs. Rutabagas are very good boiled and mashed. Their high levels of vitamin C, potassium and carotenoids help improve eye health and the maintenance of DNA activation in cells. Rutabagas are also important in a dog’s immune system function and have several phytochemicals that are shown to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases associated with aging and help fight cancer. Peel, boil and mash the rutabaga, then add a little bit of safflower or olive oil for your pup.

Dog smiles watermelon on the head at the beach

One in a melon

Watermelon is the epitome of summer, and your dog can enjoy this juicy treat too. It’s important to remove the rind and seeds first, as they can cause intestinal blockage, but watermelon flesh is otherwise safe for dogs. It’s full of vitamins A, B-6 and C, as well as potassium. Watermelon is 92 percent water, so it’s a great way to help keep your dog hydrated on hot summer days. Freeze chunks of seeded watermelon for a hot-weather enrichment treat for your dog. You can even find watermelon-flavored dog treats.

Chard’s on the table

Chard is a great food to add to your dog’s menu because it has tons of nutrients, which are best kept by blanching and not boiling the leaves and stalks. Blanching sweetens the leaves and frees up some of the oxalates. Chard’s nutrients have the potential to maintain your dog’s bone health, blood vessel integrity, eye health and immune function and benefit optimal muscle function and energy production. Give your dog some blanched, chopped chard, enhanced with a bit of olive oil. If you’re lucky, your pup will want the blanching water, too.

homemade sweet potato & dog


Dogs love sweet potatoes … and for good reason. Sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C, pyridoxine, potassium, fiber, magnesium, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They also are good sources of copper, iron and manganese, which are essential minerals that perform myriad functions in cells, from transporting oxygen to assisting in the assembly of proteins. A simple way to introduce them to your dog is to boil, then mash and add a bit of good oil. Dogs also love homemade sweet potato chips.

Safe to eat 

(Peels, stalks, cores, seeds removed)

  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries
  • Lettuce
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges 
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (cooked)
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turnip greens

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