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Veggies & Fruits to Boost Your Pet’s Health

Even if a pet is eating a high quality complete & balanced food as their primary diet, vegetables and fruits can provide extra nutrients – including phytonutrients – that contribute to your pet’s overall health.

Phytonutrients are only produced by plants, and many are beneficial, heat-sensitive compounds; raw ingredients like vegetables & fruits are a great source of them because they are uncooked (raw pet food like Instinct Raw is also a great source of phytonutrients). Pets, especially dogs, appreciate the variety the comes from these ingredients!

Before rotating fresh produce into your dog or cat’s routine, here are some important callouts:

  • Noncomplete & balanced foods (like veggies & fruits) should be no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories. This threshold is to prevent your pet’s diet from becoming unbalanced.
    • Your pet’s primary food should be one offering complete & balanced nutrition, and make up 90% of their diet or more. The remaining 10% is where you can play around with fresh foods, treats, or other wholesome ingredients.
  • As with any dietary change, we suggest pet parents start slow, don’t introduce multiple new ingredients at once, and monitor your pet’s response to the new foods. Adjust as needed.
  • Don’t give your pet any stone fruit with the pit still intact, apple cores/seeds, or fruits with the rind or peel still intact.
    • Pits and seeds can be a choking hazard, and some even contain cyanide, so they should especially be avoided!

What vegetables and fruits are safe for your pets?

See below for an easy reference. These are all safe for dogs AND cats. However, dogs are more likely to have a taste for fresh veggies & fruits.

Pet-safe veggies: Carrots, shiitake mushrooms, yellow squash, broccoli, sauerkraut, bell pepper, zucchini, cabbage, pumpkin, green beans, celery, butternut squash, beets, brussels sprouts, cucumber, spinach

Pet-safe fruits: Blueberries, watermelon, banana, papaya, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, apple, blackberries, pears, peaches, pineapple, nectarines, kiwi

What are some of the benefits? 

Carrots – rich in vitamin A, & phytonutrients like carotenoids ― compounds with powerful antioxidant activity that have been linked to improved immune function and reduced risk of certain disease.

Shiitake mushrooms – pets often like mushroom’s umami flavor AND they are nutrient-dense! Beta-glucans can help fight inflammation and boost the immune system.

Yellow squash – Low in calories, with a high moisture content. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, with a mildly sweet taste.

BroccoliContains vitamin C and is particularly high in glucosinolates, proven to prevent cancer. It’s also high in fiber and contains anti-inflammatory compounds, like sulforaphane and vitamin C.

Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut’s fermentation process produces beneficial probiotics. It’s also very low in calories and contains antioxidants and dietary fiber.

Blueberries – Contain a slew of phytonutrients and one of the highest levels of antioxidants out of any common fruit or veggie, helping protect cells from damage due to oxidative stress.

Watermelon – Low in calories and has high water content! Helpful for keeping pets hydrated and cool, especially in the summer.

CantaloupeThis is a fruit that CATS often enjoy due to its unique aroma profile. It also has a high moisture content and contains vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber, and antioxidants. 

What veggies and fruits are UNSAFE for pets?

Knowing this is critical! There are a number of veggies and fruits that aren’t safe for dogs and cats.

DON'T FEED: Grapes, onion, garlic, chives, leeks, wild mushrooms, produce with pits/seeds/stems/peels/rind still intact

We hope that this guide helps you boost your pet’s bowl with fresh ingredients to add variety! While Instinct Raw diets for dogs and for cats are already a great source of veggies & fruits, your pet will appreciate a little extra to keep their routine interesting. 

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