Sustainable Table: Produce for Pets

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MEDFORD, Ore. — They may not be the favorite food on everyone’s list but vegetables and fruit have been proven to offer vital nutrients and vitamins. Your pet can benefit from produce straight out of the garden too.

“As far as we can guess, half German Shepard, half Hound dog,” Dr. Glen Winters from Medford Animal Hospital said.

Whatever he is, Darby is into carrots. They, along with a few other choice vegetables are his treats. This ten year old mix has never had a dog biscuit.

Darby’s owner, Dr. Glen Winters, says supplementing your pet’s diet with fresh veggies and fruit from your garden, or from someone else’s, can benefit your 4-legged best friend’s health, just like you.

“The fresher the better, the healthier the better,” Dr. Winters said. “Dogs and cats can benefit from eating fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Carrots will help their eyes, dark berries can help with arthritis and allergies and broccoli, always sure to end up off your kids plates and under the table, that can strengthen your dog’s immune system. Fido will be more likely to bite into the fresh fruits and veggies.

“Dogs more so because they are omnivores,” Dr. Winters explained. “Some dogs eat apples, green beans, string beans, bell peppers, just trying to find out what they like.”

Your furball, not so much. That’s because cats are purely carnivores, only the most foodie of felines will venture into produce. As for Darby his tastes vary.

“He gets carrots, broccoli, apples, he’ll eat green beans, but he won’t touch lettuce,” Dr. Winters went on.
“Doesn’t like the texture or the taste.”

He recommends supplementing your pet’s diet with fresh produce by no more than 20%.

“Animals have their own set of amino acids, certain types of proteins that need to be put into their diets and if you are just doing straight chicken and rice they are lacking some of that, and dogs and cats have different requirements.”

There are a couple of things to be wary of if you plan on pulling from the garden and filling Fido’s bowl. One to watch is dark leafy greens.

“Just like people developing oxalated stones in their bladders,” Dr. Winters said. “Moderation, everything in moderation.”

Dr. Winters warns pet owners should keep their dogs away from grapes and raisins. Garlic and onions can cause issues for both dogs and cats. It’s not from any garden around Southern Oregon but chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can be harmful; macadamia nuts are also poisonous for dogs.

One of the latest ingredients found to be potent for pets is sorbitol, which is used in sugar free gum and other products. Dr. Winters says sorbitol can be fatal before a pet owner would ever make it to the veterinarian’s office.