Bonding Over Greens: The Benefits of Growing a Dog-Friendly Garden
Dogs, like humans, are omnivores. They can get a hankering for fresh greens as well as meat. If you have a green thumb and enjoy the bounty from a homegrown garden, why not involve your pooch? When you're shopping for garden supplies, consider stocking up on seedlings and starters you and your pup will both enjoy.
We asked Colorado veterinarian Dr. Jo Myers to get to the root of growing dog-friendly garden plants and what edibles you should avoid.
One of the benefits of gardening for pups is the long list of homegrown foods you can enjoy together. These include:
- Green beans
If you want to give your doggo tomatoes, make sure they're ripe. Acorn, butternut, pumpkin squash, and sweet potatoes should all be cooked first. You can also give your pup uncooked corn kernels off the cob.
Just as herbs add variety to human food, they can add flavor to your pup's meals. It's safe to offer him small quantities of basil, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme.
Many fruits are all right for your dog, too. Just prepare them the same way you would eat them. Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries, in small quantities, can be served whole. Core and slice apples and pears. Carve rind fruits such as melons.
Which fresh treat your gardening partner will like most varies from dog to dog, notes Dr. Myers.
"By observing his response to certain treats, you'll determine if your dog has any particular favorites," she says. "He'll also be quick to let you know if there's something he doesn't want to eat."
Dr. Myers encourages moderation in sharing fruits and vegetables with your doggo.
"The safest way for you to share healthy, whole, natural foods with your dog," she says, "is as an occasional treat or supplement to his nutritionally complete dog food."
What Garden Foods Are Toxic to Dogs?
Certain fruits and vegetables will make your pupper sick. Plants that dogs should steer clear of include anything in the Allium family:
- scallions (green onions)
Other plants you should never share with your pup include:
- sweet pea plant
Also, while beets and asparagus are OK, beet leaves and asparagus ferns (leaves) are always out. It may be best not to grow beets and asparagus at all, so your curious canine doesn't sample their leaves accidentally.
The ASPCA offers a printable list of plants that are toxic to dogs as well as a searchable list online. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. If you ever suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance, call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or contact your vet as soon as possible.
How to Create a Dog-Friendly Garden
Be sure to keep vegetables that could be toxic to your dog in a separate, fenced off human-only garden. Better yet, skip planting them altogether. This way, your pup can roam the garden without human supervision. As with any produce, thoroughly wash it before serving.
Bonding over food isn't the only benefit of gardening for your canine companion.
Gardening with your doggo could be just the activity to get you two playing in the dirt and enjoying some fresh air together.
Dog-Friendly Garden Suggestions
Once you find your pup's favorite garden plants, grow them year after year. Serve them as a topper on her regular food or use the fresh produce with toys for an extra-special enrichment activity. Topple toys and treat dispensers are perfect salad holders. Plus, we all appreciate our own dinnerware, including Fido.
Looking for inspiration? We've got you covered with a pup-friendly recipe.
Sweet potato chips
Healthy chips that are dog- and human-friendly? Yes, please!
- Slice garden-fresh sweet potatoes thin.
- Drizzle them with olive oil.
- Sprinkle the sliced sweet potato with dog-friendly spices or herbs. Skip the salt.
- Pop your sharable chips into the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15–20 minutes until crispy.