9 Healthy Summer Snacks — For Your Dog
Popcorn makes the list, believe it or not.
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All dogs are experts at begging for a little bite of whatever you’re eating. But nutrition? That’s not really in their wheelhouse. While table scraps might be a forever “no” in your house (fair enough) you may want to be aware of what kinds of human foods you can give your pet as a sanctioned treat. Knowing what’s on the list of healthy snacks for dogs won’t just supplement your pet’s diet with beneficial vitamins and nutrients — it will also come in handy when you want to reward them or do an impromptu training session in a pinch.
Having a movie night at home? You can let your pup have some of cinema’s signature snack, which is rich in minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Dr. Stephanie Liff, DVM and co-owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Hell’s Kitchen, adds: “It’s a fiber-rich snack and also contains iron and B vitamins. It’s fine in small amounts — it just has to be air-popped without any additions.” So, save the butter and flavorings for your own bowl, and make sure your dog doesn’t eat any kernels. (You probably shouldn’t eat the kernels either, actually.)
Putting together a little crudité platter? Feel free to let your dog nibble on the carrots. These are packed with fiber and also beta carotene, which has vitamin A and can be good for your dog’s immune system, skin, and coat. “Carrots can replace other chew toys that can be more caloric,” says Dr. Liff. Chomping on them can also help remove plaque from their teeth.
Don’t worry if your pup begs for some of these. Blueberries are totally safe for dogs to eat and a strong source of fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which can provide a range of health benefits for dogs. Research also suggests that antioxidants may help improve age-related issues in your older dogs.
Watermelon is a great summer-time snack, especially because it has a high water content, so it can help keep dogs hydrated. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, and B-6. Worried about those pesky seeds? “Seeds shouldn’t be an issue, but the rind definitely can be a source of GI obstruction if swallowed whole,” says Dr. Liff.
This human superfood is a superfood for dogs, too. And unlike some picky toddlers, your pup will be very into it. Broccoli contains high amounts of many nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, calcium, and more. Dr. Liff offers one note of caution: “Broccoli can cause gas due to fiber and isothiocyanates, which can cause gastric irritation in dogs,” so stick with small to moderate amounts for your own sake.
Strawberries are low in calories but high in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, making them a great treat to share with your dog. Just make sure to cut them into small pieces to prevent choking.
You’d probably use this as a topping rather than serving it on its own, but honey is packed with vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. It can also help dogs with allergies by introducing small amounts of pollen into their systems which can build up immunity to local allergens. Bonus: the sticky spread can also be used as a topical treatment for burns and superficial cuts (assuming your dog won’t just lick it up immediately). There are only two exceptions to feeding your pet honey, according to Dr. Liff: “Raw honey can include botulinum toxin and should not be fed to young or immunocompromised pets.”
Blending up Piña Coladas? Feel free to give your dog some extra coconut meat or oil. Coconut is pretty fatty, and good to help your pet’s coat and skin. (But because of the high fat content, this should be just an occasional treat.)
This other tropical treat is also very healthy. Mango provides several vitamins, like A & C, and minerals, in addition to lots of fiber. The only thing to watch out for is the pit, which can be a source of gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs, says Dr. Liff. Otherwise, man-go for it! (Sorry.)
Max Cohen is a freelance writer, social media manager, and comedian. He has worked with Daily Paws, The Comedy Consultant, and others. He co-founded LoungyPack.com to offer creative marketing and copywriting. His comedy albums include Operation: Pastrami Sandwich and Love's a Joke, which are played regularly on SiriusXM. He lives in New York City with his wife and his dog Coach.