Go Green this Holiday

As the end-of-the-year holidays approach, you may be inspired to create lots of edible goodies from your kitchen, as your loyal dog watches intently. No need to make your dog green with envy. Why not fortify him by treating him to some healthy green foods?

Not all green-colored foods are safe for your canine chum, so that’s why Dogster reached out to two leading veterinarians to identify safe greens and dangerous ones.

Stepping up to the (food) plate with answers are Dr. Justine Lee of Twin Cities, Minnesota, the country’s only board-certified veterinary specialist in both toxicology and emergency critical care medicine. Also offering advice is Dr. Lindsey Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who practices at the Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, North Carolina.

Both experts are on a mission to ensure your dog spends the holidays happily at your home — and not inside a veterinary emergency clinic.

“I definitely see more dogs coming to our ER over the holidays,” says Dr. Lee, who is also chief executive officer of VETgirl and hosts the ER Vet show each week on Pet Life Radio.

She also points out that in the top toxins of 2020 report released by the Animal Poison Control Center, human foods unsafe for dogs ranked third, only behind over-the-counter medications and human prescription medications.

Good greens

This list of dog-safe green foods gets the healthy green light because these foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. You’ll find these in dog foods or you can feed a small amount as treat:

  • Green beans
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Seaweed
  • Spirulina

Another perk of dishing up is that they are low in calories and help dogs feel full and not pack on the pounds during the holidays.

Some dogs enjoy munching on raw, cleaned, green veggies making this safe list, especially green beans. If your dog takes a pass, Dr. Bullen recommends that you try steaming theses greens and allowing to cool before adding them as toppers to your dog’s meal.

If possible, purchase organically grown vegetables to ensure no pesticides or chemicals were added during the growing process.

As much as you may enjoy butter, olive oil and spices added to your greens, serve them plain to your dog to avoid any issues, like upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea.

©anastas_ | Getty Images

Caution for these greens

What human green foods should never be given to dogs?

Green grapes. In fact, all hues of grapes and raisins. These sugar-packed fruits can cause acute kidney issues if ingested by dogs. Additionally, grapes can cause choking and may block a dog’s airway, causing him to stop breathing and collapse.

Here are a couple of green foods that are not toxic, but are certainly not 100% safe for dogs:

Avocados. Dr. Lee clarifies that avocados are not poisonous to dogs, but are deadly to birds and livestock due to a fungicidal called persin. Dogs seem to be more resistant to persin than birds and livestock.

“If your dog eats a whole bowl of guacamole, he might have an upset stomach,” Dr. Lee says. “The bigger danger is the pit that can get stuck in the stomach and intestines and definitely put a dog in danger.”

Dr. Bullen adds, “Avocados have wonderful nutritional properties and are sources of good fat. But my concern is the slippery pit. I err on the side of caution and do not feed avocados to my dog, Heidi.”

Raw asparagus. A dog may incur mild gastrointestinal distress if he eats a lot of these green sprigs. Another negative: Much of the nutrients are lost when you cook asparagus. And don’t forget: Anyone or any dog who eats asparagus produces urine with a pungent odor.

How much safe greens should you give your dog at the holidays or any time of the year?

“To play it totally safe, make sure it is less than 10% of the dog’s diet so it reduces the risk of any gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Bullen says.

Dr. Lee’s parting advice: Pre-program your cellphone with the phone numbers for your local veterinary clinic, the nearest veterinary emergency hospital and the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435 and aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control).

“In a pet emergency, minutes count,” she says. “Always call ahead, so that the vet team can be ready when you arrive with your dog.”


Put a little “green” in your shopping cart:

Zuke’s Superfood Blend with Great Greens; $7.49. | zukes.com or chewy.com

Dr. Harvey’s Veg to Bowl; $36.95. | drharveys.com

Because, Animals Omega & Probiotic Sprinkles for Dogs; $24. | becauseanimals.com

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