Vegetables can be a great addition to your Labrador’s diet. I like to feed my dog veggies such as raw carrots, sweet potatoes, and peas. They are great to give as treats or to add to their food to switch it up. So, what vegetables can Labradors eat?
Labradors can eat a wide range of vegetables. Some of the best vegetables they can eat are carrots, green beans, pumpkin, peas, parsnips, cooked potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Some vegetables are toxic and can not be eaten, such as onions, garlic, leeks, chives, and wild mushrooms.
This article will itemize the best 28 vegetables that are perfectly safe to add to your dog’s diet. We will also look at why Labradors should eat vegetables, how to feed them, and what vegetables your dog can’t eat.
Some vegetables make better choices than others! I’ll tell you my dog’s favorite six at the end of the post!
For the complete guide to what vegetables your Labrador can and can’t eat, let’s dive in!
What Vegetables Can Labradors Eat?
Labradors can eat many different vegetables as long as they are given in moderation. Most are better cooked to aid digestion, but some can be given raw such as carrots and green beans.
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Check out this really fun 3-minute video from “Monkoodog” detailing the best healthy vegetables to feed your dog:
Labradors can eat artichokes. They can benefit from this antioxidant-rich vegetable as it defends against illness and protects the immune system. It’s packed with nutrients, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, niacin, and fiber, and is low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
Some dogs will love a small piece of artichoke whereas others will immediately turn their nose up, so you will need to experiment to see where your Lab fits in. Only feed your dog a very small portion and feed slowly to avoid choking. Artichoke can be given raw or cooked and dogs can eat the leaves, hearts, and stems.
Asparagus makes a healthy option for your Labrador as it contains vitamins K, A, B1, B2, C, and E, along with folate, iron, copper, zinc, fiber, and manganese. It also contains potassium and antioxidants that help flush out toxins from the bloodstream and promotes good heart health.
It’s better to feed your Lab cooked asparagus as the stalks can be quite tough and difficult to chew. I try not to overcook my asparagus as it can lose many of the nutrients. Simply boil or steam it and don’t add butter or seasonings!
Sometimes asparagus can make your dog’s pee smell unpleasant due to the asparagusic acid which gets converted into compounds containing sulfur. You may, therefore, need to reconsider giving asparagus if your puppy is not yet fully house trained!
Beets (beetroot) are full of nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, fiber, and vitamins. They are good for digestion and a healthy coat and skin. Beets support your dog’s immune system and make an excellent choice if your Labrador is anemic.
As they are quite high in oxalic acid, you should only give your Labrador a small amount as very large quantities can lead to a calcium deficiency or kidney stones. Although beets can be fed raw, it’s better to cook them first by baking or roasting. You can then mash them and add them as a topping to your dog’s dinner.
Avoid giving canned beets as they are full of salt which is toxic for dogs in large amounts. My dog’s brand of food contains beets so I’m happy she’s benefiting from their many good qualities.
Labradors can safely eat all colors of bell pepper. They contain essential vitamins and minerals, although the red variety is the most nutritious as they have the highest amount of antioxidants, (such as beta carotene), and vitamins.
Bell peppers are good for your Lab’s immune system and they are loaded with vitamins A, B6, C, and E. They are low in calories and are great for your dog’s skin, coat, and eyes. As they are 92% water they are also good for hydration.
The seeds and stems are best removed as your Labrador will find these hard to digest. You can feed bell peppers raw, however, your dog will find the skin tough and chewy, so it would be better to steam or mash them.
Broccoli is a vegetable that’s good for your Lab to snack on – in small amounts! It is high in fiber, vitamins C and K, and low in fat. It’s good for your Labrador’s immune system, it can protect against heart disease, and helps to maintain healthy bones and skin.
Broccoli florets contain a compound known as isothiocyanate that can cause gastric irritation and major gas in some dogs, so only serve your Labrador a tiny amount, as it could be unpleasant for both of you!
But broccoli also has cancer-fighting properties that have been shown to suppress tumor growths. This recent study whereby dogs were given broccoli supplements concluded that broccoli may help inhibit cancer formation.
Broccoli can be fed raw or cooked. Take care if you are feeding your dog the stalks and make sure you cut them into small pieces to prevent choking or obstruction. My dog’s cold-pressed dog food contains a small amount of broccoli.
Brussels sprouts are loaded with nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants that are great for dogs. They also contain vitamin K, which helps the blood clot properly, builds bones, and protects the heart. This vegetable is closely related to broccoli and so don’t overfeed them to your Lab due to the flatulence they can cause!
I detest Brussels sprouts and so my dog has never eaten them! If you decide to feed them to your Lab, they are better steamed or boiled (steaming preserves the largest amount of nutrients). Don’t give them raw as they are difficult for your dog to digest.
Cabbage (including red, savoy, and bok choy) is also safe for Labradors. It is full of nutrients, especially vitamins C and K, and fiber. These vitamins help fight disease, including cancer, as well as support your dog’s digestion and immune system.
Cabbage is also known to cause the same excess gas as Brussel sprouts and broccoli, so you may want to feed very sparingly and introduce slowly! It’s also recommended to cook cabbage first, such as steaming or boiling, as it will be easier on your Lab’s stomach.
Raw and cooked carrots are healthy options for Labradors and they make an excellent low-calorie snack. They are highly nutritious and are loaded with phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. They contain vitamins A, K, and C, potassium, calcium, iron, and fiber.
Carrots are also a good source of beta-carotene which produces vitamin A that is good for healthy bones, eyes, skin, and the immune system. They are also great for the heart.
Frozen or raw carrots are ideal to give to teething puppies. My dog loves to crunch on raw pieces of carrot and they also help to clean her teeth. I think carrots are one of the best vegetables to feed your dog.
Cauliflower is known for its nutritional qualities and is safe for Labs to eat. It’s full of vitamin K and C, calcium, potassium, folate, and soluble fiber. It’s good for your Lab’s vision, blood, muscles, immune system, and general health. It may also reduce inflammation and help to fight cancer.
Cauliflower does, however, contain a chemical that will give your dog the dreaded gas! If you are going to let your Labrador try it, then just feed a tablespoonful, and preferably cooked. I prefer not to give my dog Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or cauliflower as I’d rather not experience the unpleasant after-effects! There are far better choices!
Celery contains vitamins A, B, C, and K, folate, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese and it is an excellent source of fiber. These excellent nutrients are needed to promote a healthy heart and they even fight cancer.
Celery is often recommended as a weight-loss treat as it’s low in fat and cholesterol. It’s good for your dog to crunch on and might even freshen up his doggy breath! Make sure to cut it into bite-sized pieces and introduce them slowly.
Although corn is a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants for your Labrador, it is a starchy vegetable and not something that they really need. However, if your dog is with you on a long hike and needs a quick energy boost, corn is an ideal alternative treat to take with you.
You must not give your Lab the cob to chew on as some dogs have been known to try and eat the whole thing and swallow the entire cob! This can cause choking or a serious digestive obstruction. Instead, remove the kernels and give as a tasty treat.
As corn is high in carbohydrates only feed small amounts to avoid weight gain. Don’t feed canned corn as it’s often high in sodium or any popcorn containing butter or salt.
Now, here’s the interesting part! Cucumbers are strictly a fruit but as most people think of them as a vegetable because of how they are used in the culinary world, we will discuss them here.
Although cucumbers are mostly comprised of water, they are low in calories and high in nutrients such as vitamin K which is good for bone health and blood clotting. They also contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce chronic disease.
Cucumbers make a great crunchy snack for your Labrador. They are best fed with the peel removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces. As they are a great source of hydration they are especially good to feed in the summer months.
Eggplant (also known as aubergine in Europe) is a source of fiber, which is important for digestion. It also contains vitamins B6, K, folate, potassium, niacin, and phytonutrients that help protect your Labrador from chronic diseases.
Some dogs may not like the taste of eggplant, so if this vegetable is a fan of yours, you may want to experiment first by giving your dog a small taste to see how he handles it.
Eggplant should be cooked before giving it to your dog as he may have a hard time trying to digest it raw. It can be grilled, baked, or boiled. Don’t feed your dog eggplant leaves as they contain solanine which is toxic to dogs if large quantities are consumed.
Green beans are great vegetables for Labradors as they are highly nutritious and most dogs seem to like them. They are full of important vitamins and minerals, fiber, and are low in calories. They are an excellent veggie for your dogs’ overall physical health and they make a tasty alternative to store-bought treats.
Green beans can be fed raw or cooked and you can give canned green beans to your dog as long as they don’t contain salt or other additives. My dog loves green beans chopped up and added to her bowl and they are gone in no time!
Kale is considered one of the cruciferous vegetables along with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. It’s a controversial veggie where dogs are concerned, but the bottom line is that Labrador Retrievers can eat kale – in moderation! Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of giving your dog a small amount of Kale.
Pros: Kale has many health benefits being a good source of fiber, vitamins K, C, and E, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It’s loaded with antioxidants that fight cancer and disease.
Cons: Too many cruciferous veggies can cause hypothyroidism in animals, although let’s be realistic here, your dog would have to eat huge daily amounts for this to happen. However, this study in humans found that eating 150g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function.
So, can dogs eat kale and the other cruciferous veggies? I’ll let you decide!
Lettuce is 90% water and all varieties are safe for dogs to eat as a crunchy snack. However, due to its high water content, the nutritional value of lettuce is negligible, but it does contain beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A. Other nutrients include vitamin C, calcium, iron, and fiber.
Lettuce could be a useful choice for your dog to nibble on if he is over-weight, although it’s better to chop it up rather than giving a whole leaf which will be hard for him to digest. I have only tried my dog once with iceberg lettuce, however, she didn’t appear to like it and just spat it out!
Store-bought mushrooms are generally safe for dogs, whereas wild mushrooms are toxic and can be highly dangerous, proving fatal in some cases, depending on the species ingested.
A taste of plain white button or portobello mushrooms from the grocery store will cause no harm, as long as they aren’t seasoned with oil, garlic, or onions. They are low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The benefits of eating mushrooms include preventing heart disease, boosting the immune system, supporting liver and kidney function, and fighting cancer. Like most other veggies for dogs, they are better served cooked.
Labradors can eat parsnips. They are quite safe to feed your dog and they contain plenty of vitamins C and B6, folic acid, and potassium. Parsnips are good for your dog’s metabolism and support a healthy nervous system. They also contain antioxidants to help fight cancer.
As parsnips are quite starchy (along with other root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets) only feed in moderation. They can be fed raw as long as they are chopped up into small digestible pieces, or they can be cooked which is recommended. Sometimes I like to mash a small amount of parsnip and add it to my dog’s bowl and she really enjoys the sweet taste.
Peas are safe for dogs and have an abundance of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K, and many B vitamins. They also contain fiber, iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. Peas also contain lutein, an antioxidant good for skin, heart, and eye health.
Peas are starchy carbohydrates and are great for boosting energy levels. They’re good to give as a snack if you are out on a long walk or during periods of high activity. They are also gentle on your dog’s digestive system compared to other veggies.
You can feed your Lab fresh or frozen peas but avoid the canned variety as they usually contain a lot of sodium and additives. I like to add a small number of peas to my dog’s bowl at mealtimes and I think they make a superb choice.
Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and are okay to feed to your dog, however, they need to be cooked first and the skin removed.
Do not give your Labrador raw potato (or if the potato is green) as they contain a compound called solanine which is toxic in high amounts. However, cooking potatoes reduces the levels of solanine making them quite safe.
Potatoes contain vitamins C and B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and many other nutrients that are great for dogs. As they are high in carbohydrates, feed sparingly, especially if your dog already has difficulty controlling his weight.
You can feed your dog baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes but don’t add salt or butter. French fries or potato chips are definitely off the menu as these are not healthy, either for you, me, or your Lab! Sweet potatoes are a better option as they are much more nutritious.
Pumpkin (a type of squash) is great for your Labrador as it’s full of fiber, vitamin A, E, C, potassium, iron, and antioxidants that help promote overall cardiovascular health.
It’s also one of the best vegetables recommended for digestion. The abundance of fiber absorbs water like a sponge and helps to alleviate diarrhea. Not only that, but pumpkin can help if your dog is constipated too! This is because it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Don’t worry about the pumpkin seeds, as they are also safe to feed and contain many healthy nutrients. They also work as an effective deworming agent as they have cucurbitin. This is an amino acid that paralyzes and eliminates worms and parasites from the animals’ digestive tract, as shown in this study.
Both raw and cooked pumpkin is just fine for your Labrador, however, cooked is better for easier consumption.
So, does rhubarb belong in the veggie section? Despite rhubarb often being used in jams and fruit pies, it is technically a vegetable. Dogs can eat it, but only the stalks! Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to both humans and dogs.
Although rhubarb stalks are safe for dogs to eat, they probably won’t like their tart taste! I remember as a kid eating peeled sticks of rhubarb dipped in mounds of sugar to take away the sourness.
If your Lab’s taste buds can tolerate a bit of rhubarb, it is good for vitamin K (which helps blood clot), vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. It’s also a rich source of antioxidants. You can feed raw, without sugar, or it can be stewed or baked.
Rutabaga & Turnip
Both Rutabaga (also known as swede in some countries) and turnip are both safe vegetables for your dog to eat. Rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.
Rutabaga and turnip are a good source of calcium, folate, potassium, vitamins A, C, and antioxidants. They are very nutritious, low in calories, and are a good overall disease-fighting vegetable.
They can be eaten raw or cooked, however, your dog’s digestive system will prefer them baked or mashed. After all, I bet you can’t remember the last time you ate a piece of raw turnip! If you are going to feed these veggies raw to your Labrador make sure you thoroughly wash them first to get rid of any traces of bacteria or pesticides.
Spinach is high in iron and provides fiber, vitamins A, B, C, and K, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. It is known as a cancer fighter and has lots of nutritional properties that can benefit your dog.
It is, however, somewhat controversial as to whether you should feed your dog spinach due to the high amount of oxalic acid it contains. Here’s what the American Kennel Club has to say:
“Spinach is very high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage.”American Kennel Club
However, your Labrador would have to eat very large quantities to cause any damage and healthy dogs can easily process small amounts of dissolvable oxalates. Therefore, it’s perfectly safe if you wish to give your dog some spinach. Serve steamed as this is the healthiest way of cooking to preserves all the goodness.
Labradors can eat sweet potatoes. They are great for your dog’s digestive system as they are high in dietary fiber which also helps to lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. They are full of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as calcium, iron, folate, potassium, copper, thiamine, and iron.
These vegetables are also rich in beta-carotene which is converted into high amounts of vitamin A for healthy skin, good eye health, and vision. They support the immune system and are good for the overall health of your Labrador.
Sweet potatoes should be cooked and the skin removed before feeding to your dog. They hold their nutritional value better when steamed or boiled, as opposed to baked.
As sweet potatoes are mainly starchy carbohydrates, if your dog is overweight, less active, or diabetic, they are best avoided unless you give a very small amount. They are, however, a healthier choice than cooked white potatoes and are a popular vegetable in many dog foods including my dogs’ favorite brand.
All varieties of squash are safe for your dog. Pumpkin is also part of the squash family. Like cucumber, squash is theoretically a fruit but as it’s used as a vegetable, we’ll discuss it here. If your Lab enjoys the taste of pumpkin then he will no doubt like the naturally sweet taste of squash too!
Squash is highly nutritious and has several health benefits for dogs. It contains vitamins A, C, and K as well as being loaded with beta carotene, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. It’s good for the eyes, skin, bones, and immune function, and can fight certain diseases.
It’s relatively low in sugar and calories, and the fleshy part is easy for Labradors to digest as long as it is cooked. If your Lab is suffering from diarrhea, a small amount of cooked squash mixed into their usual food can help.
Please do not feed the peel, as your dog will struggle to digest it. Seeds are not toxic, but they’re a little tough, and beware of choking
Zucchini (also known as courgette in Europe) is safe to feed to your Labrador. This veggie is nutrient-dense and includes fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It is low in fat and cholesterol and makes a good choice for overweight dogs.
Zucchini is also part of the squash family, something I certainly didn’t know! It tends to be easier to digest than most squashes and is good for your dog’s eyes, bones, muscles, immune system, and overall general health.
A thin slice of frozen zucchini in the summer is great for your Labrador. But, it’s preferable to steam or boil it to make it easier to chew and digest.
Can Labradors Eat Vegetables?
Now you know all the vegetables that your dog can safely eat, you might also be wondering, can Labradors actually eat vegetables?
Labradors can eat vegetables as dogs have adapted to an omnivorous diet over thousands of years of domestication. Although most good quality dog food is optimized for the majority of dogs’ needs, adding vegetables is a great supplement to a healthy diet.
Dogs can digest more than 98% of the carbohydrates they consume as shown in this study, so they are not just carnivores!
Dogs also have teeth (molars) with flat broad surfaces that are positioned towards the back of the jaw. These are designed for grinding up food, including plant material, such as fruit and vegetables.
In conclusion, Labradors can eat both animal and plant foodstuffs and remain healthy.
If fruits are more your thing, check out this article, 29 Fruits Labradors Can Eat: And 5 They Can’t!
Should Labradors Eat Vegetables?
Almost everything we eat plays a part in keeping us functioning like a well-oiled machine. But what about our pets? Should Labradors eat vegetables?
Labradors should eat vegetables as they provide an additional source of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vegetables can be a big health boost for your dog and can help reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases including cancer.
As vegetables are low in calories and fat, they make an excellent choice if your dog is struggling with obesity and needs to lose a few pounds. They are also cholesterol-free and contain less sugar than fruits.
Vegetables should only be fed in moderation. As a general guideline, a few small pieces a day will be just fine for your Lab.
Treats that you give your dog should not add up to more than 10% of their total calories for the day.
To learn a ton more about the best diet for Labradors, check out my top article which includes loads of info on nutrition, types of diet, and exactly what Labradors can and can’t eat.
How to Feed Vegetables to Dogs
Here are some guidelines on how to feed vegetables to your dog:
- Introduce vegetables slowly to avoid any tummy troubles!
- Wash the vegetables first to get rid of any dirt, bacteria, or remaining pesticides.
- Cook veggies to aid digestion. I use a steamer such as this one from Amazon. I particularly like this one as it doubles up as a rice cooker.
- Don’t add salt or seasoning to the cooking process as too much of this is bad for your dog.
- Feed them in small bite-sized pieces to prevent choking or digestive issues.
- Frozen veggies can be fed for convenience.
- Be wary of canned vegetables as many are high in salt and other additives.
What Vegetables are Toxic to Dogs?
If you plan on sharing some veggies with your dog, make sure you don’t feed them anything you find on this list! These are the vegetables that Labs shouldn’t eat due to their toxicity:
Onions, Shallots, Leeks, Chives & Garlic
Labradors should never eat onions, shallots, leeks, chives, and garlic as they are poisonous to most pets. These are all members of the allium family, (the word “allium” is Latin for garlic), and eating toxic doses of these vegetables can cause damage to the red blood cells, making them more likely to rupture, leading to anemia.
Garlic is 5 times more potent than onion and leeks. If your Lab ingests a toxic dose he may display symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and stomach pain. Serious cases can result in weakness, breathing problems, and collapse.
Raw (or green) Potato
Raw (or green) potato contains solanine that can affect your Labradors’ nervous system, cause blurred vision, disrupt digestion, and slow the heart rate.
Cooked potato with the skin removed is fine as the cooking reduces the amount of solanine. Green tomatoes also fall into this category.
Although the stalks of the rhubarb plant are safe for your Labrador, the leaves contain soluble oxalic acid which is toxic if ingested in large enough quantities. Signs of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, and in severe cases, renal failure can occur.
If you grow rhubarb at home, keep it fenced off and ensure your dog is never left unsupervised in the garden area.
There are thousands of wild mushroom species and many are toxic to dogs. If your Lab grabs one during a woodland jaunt, don’t let him eat it!
Mushroom poisoning in dogs can have serious consequences, including liver and kidney failure, disorientation, seizures, and in serious cases death can occur.
A small amount of store-bought mushrooms such as white button will generally be safe as long as they are plain and without butter, garlic, and seasoning.
To discover loads of other foods that are poisonous to Labradors, check out this article which also includes some “hidden dangers” you need to be aware of – as they are not so obvious!
We all love to reward our dogs with treats and experiment with new ones, and vegetables make a great option. I did promise to tell you about my dog’s favorites, and these are carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans, corn, and parsnips.
Here are a few takeaways from the article:
- There are many vegetables you can safely feed your dog. Some make better choices than others.
- Experiment by feeding sparingly and slowly.
- Dogs are omnivores and can digest veggies.
- Most vegetables are better served cooked to aid digestion.
- Be aware of the vegetables that are toxic to dogs.
- Consult your vet before feeding, especially if your dog has a health condition.
In any case, you should always check with a veterinary professional if you have any concerns regarding your dog’s dietary health.
Related Posts You May Like:
- NCBI: Evaluation of Anthelmintic Activity and Composition of Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) Seed Extracts—In Vitro and in Vivo Studies
- Veterinary Medicine and Science: Sulforaphane absorption and histone deacetylase activity following single dosing of broccoli sprout supplement in normal dogs
- Oregon State University: Cruciferous Vegetables
- PubMed: Preliminary observations on the effect of dietary brussels sprouts on thyroid function
- Trupanion: Can dogs eat mushrooms?
- American Kennel Club: Can My Dog Eat Spinach?
- Nature: The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet
- The Journal of Nutrition: Evaluation of Nutrient Utilization in the Canine Using the Ileal Cannulation Technique
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