Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
Throughout the years, numerous claims have attested that raw vegetables are more nutritious for dogs than their cooked form. Proponents say that subjecting veggies to heat disintegrates their vitamins and mineral and lowers their nutritional content.
While this belief holds a certain degree of truth, some details needed to be straightened out. For instance, several studies show that some vegetable varieties become more jam-packed with nutrients after going through the cooking process.
In this article, we will go through a science-backed list of vegetables that are best fed to dogs cooked.
Why Are Some Vegetables More Nutritious for Dogs When Cooked?
Cooking helps unleash the vitamins and minerals stored in certain parts of the vegetables, therefore increasing their concentrations.
Moreover, if the cooking process is carried out the right way, some of these nutrients are more easily absorbed into your dog’s system. Thus, he gets the most out of the veggies, and little to no nutrients are wasted.
The heat from cooking also reduces harmful compounds found in certain vegetables, which affect nutrient absorption. We will touch upon all of this as you continue to read on.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Cooking Vegetables for Dogs?
Cooking vegetables does indeed leach out some nutrients, specifically water-soluble vitamins such as:
- Vitamin A
- B Vitamins (e.g., folate, thiamine, riboflavin)
- Vitamin C
However, the excessive nutrient loss can be prevented by not overcooking the vegetables. In some cases, boiling is not recommended for certain types of veggies since it dissolves a large chunk of vitamins and minerals.
Lightly baking, roasting, steaming, or sauteeing them are better alternatives because these methods retain most of the nutrients.
7 Vegetables Best Served Cooked to Fido
Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of cooking vegetables for dogs let us move on to uncovering the best vegetable varieties that offer high levels of nutrients for your furry pal when cooked.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #1: Asparagus
According to research, although cooking asparagus reduced its ascorbic acid levels by 52%, it significantly increased its antioxidant activity by 16%. It also shot up the vegetable’s quercetin levels to 98% and lutein+zeaxanthin content to 25%.
The boosted antioxidative powers of asparagus after cooking benefit dogs’ immune systems. Antioxidants play a vital role in preventing cell damage, which brings on health issues like cancer, by eliminating harmful free radicals.
Cooking also aids in breaking down the cell walls of asparagus, which frees the nutrients stored inside. This increases the vitamins A and E content of the veggie. They also serve as antioxidants.
Since both of these nutrients are fat-soluble, their bioavailability increases if they are paired with a healthy fat source.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #2: Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are another excellent source of antioxidants for dogs. They contain high concentrations of carotenoids, beta-carotene, and lutein.
When cooked, the cell walls of bell peppers are broken down by the heat. As a result, the antioxidants kept inside are released, making them easier to absorb in the bodies of dogs.
Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A, which means it is also fat-soluble. So we recommend lightly cooking bell peppers in healthy cooking oil for better nutrient absorption.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #3: Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, which convert into cancer-fighting compounds. However, for this to happen, myrosinase, an enzyme also found in these veggies, has to be activated.
A study shows that steaming retains the myrosinase activity in Brussels sprouts. Microwaving or boiling should be avoided as it greatly leaches out the enzyme as well as glucosinolates.
Before cooking these vegetables for your dog, experts advise chopping and setting them aside for a few minutes. Doing so allows the myrosinase to activate.
Another good reason why you should cook Brussels sprouts for your dog is that it lowers the risk of gas and bloat. The raw form of the veggie contains certain sugars, which cause flatulence.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #4: Carrots
Carrots are famous for their high beta-carotene content, which provides canines with a healthy dose of vitamin A. Aside from boosting your furry pal’s immune system, this nutrient is also essential for maintaining:
- A sharp eyesight
- Healthy skin
- Normal organ formation
The cooking process helps increase the beta-carotene concentrations as well as the antioxidative activity of carrots.
In addition, cooking these root vegetables in less water increases their amount of phytonutrients, which also aid in strengthening the canine immune system.
Avoid peeling and discarding carrot skins since they are beneficial to your dog when cooked. Boiling or roasting them raises their carotenoid levels by 13%.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #5: Celery
Feeding your canine companion cooked celery will provide him with plenty of antioxidants. In an experiment, it was discovered that some cooking methods bump up the veggie’s antioxidant capacity such as:
- Air frying
- Pressure cooking
Skip the boiling method since it yields a less positive result. It was found to cause a 14% reduction in the celery’s antioxidant activity.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #6: Spinach
Spinach is abundant in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. These nutrients are necessary for strong bone development, good blood circulation, proper energy production, and quicker wound healing.
They become more bioavailable when spinach undergoes the cooking process. It is preferable to steam the vegetable since this method retains its folate levels.
The added benefit of heating spinach is the reduction of the veggie’s oxalic acid, which acts as an antinutrient that hinders the absorption of certain nutrients such as calcium and iron.
Best Cooked Vegetable for Dogs #7: Tomatoes
Lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants found in tomatoes. It boosts heart function, improves skin health, and lowers cancer risk.
Research shows that cooking tomatoes for 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit increased their lycopene content by 62%.
The elevated levels of lycopene after cooking were attributed to the heat dissolving the thick cell walls of tomatoes, which housed incredible amounts of this antioxidant.
FAQs About Cooked Vegetables for Dogs
Is It Good to Cook Vegetables for Dogs?
Yes, it is good to cook vegetables for dogs. The veggies we have mentioned are particularly suitable to be served cooked because the cooking process improves their nutritional content.
For certain veggies like spinach, exposure to heat reduces antinutrients like oxalic acid. It promotes better absorption of minerals such as iron and calcium.
Does Cooking Vegetables for Dogs Destroy Nutrients?
While some vegetables are better served raw, such as cucumber, and broccoli stems, others are more nutritious for dogs when cooked. The cooking process can break down the tough cell walls of certain vegetables, making them easier for dogs to digest and allowing them to access more nutrients.
When cooking the vegetable minimize the amount and duration of heat used in cooking. Stick to lightly steaming, roasting, or sautéing them for better nutrient retention.
Can I Boil Carrots for My Dog?
Yes, you can boil carrots for your dog. Boiling is not often the recommended cooking method for many vegetables since it dissolves too much of their vitamins and mineral.
However, with carrots, studies show that boiling them boosted their carotenoid compounds to 13%, which helps strengthen your dog’s immune system.
What Are Three Positive Effects of Cooking Vegetables for Dogs?
The three positive effects of cooking vegetables for dogs, especially the ones we have listed above, are:
- Increasing their nutrient levels by allowing the heat to break down their cells walls
- Promote better digestibility since heat softens the vegetables
- Improve their flavor profile because cooking activates their flavor molecules
Some types of vegetables have high levels of nutrients for dogs when cooked, such as asparagus, tomatoes, and carrots. The cooking process removes their cell walls, where many of their vitamins and minerals are stored.
Dog owners need to be aware that the cooking method and duration are important in retaining the nutritional content of the vegetables.
Generally, steaming, roasting, and baking are good options than boiling. Only lightly cook the veggies on low heat and avoid adding too much water to prevent nutrient loss.
As a loving pawrent, it is only natural for you to provide a healthy diet to your pooch so he can enjoy a long life with you.
Read our article, “What Vegetables Are Good for Dogs?” which provides a list of dog-friendly veggies that you can safely incorporate into his meals.