Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gardening with pets: 5 great dog treats you can grow yourself!

Pug protecting his strawberry plants

My garden is absolutely amazing right now. Almost every single plant I tended in the spring is full of fruit that's rapidly ripening in the sun.

And a lot of that fruit will go right in the maw of this pug.

Yup, I've chosen a cornucopia of plants that are safe for dogs to eat. Why? Because fruits and vegetables are easy, low-calorie treats that are perfect rewards for a pug watching his waistline. By growing his treats, I can ensure that he has plenty of healthy things to eat when we go to training class later this summer.

And, growing things that are healthy for dogs may also help me reap safety benefits. While I've worked hard to keep my produce up and away from gobbling mouths, Liam and Sinead have been known to do a little drive-by snacking. So I really shouldn't be growing anything that isn't safe for them to eat. By sticking with healthful stuff, we may all spend a little less time in the emergency room.

So here's what we've got going (and what you might consider for your own garden).

Strawberries 

Strawberries are a perfect dog treat because they produce fruit all summer long. I picked the first berry about a month ago, and last summer, these plants produced fruit until September. That means one plant can produce 5 months of treats for gobbling mouths. That's pretty excellent.

Green beans 

This vine-loving vegetable is almost ideal for dog-friendly gardens, as it will happily grow up a trellis. That means the fruit will stay far from a dog's mouth as it grows, which gives me more time to harvest and provide treats on my own schedule. Plus, beans freeze well. If I put some up this summer, I may have goodies to share all winter long, too.

Blueberries

I am a blueberry-eating fool, so the dogs will have to fight me for these snacks. But, blueberries are pretty great training tools. They're small, so they can be quickly eaten between commands. And blueberries don't tend to squish between fingers, so they can hold up during a long training session. Liam has also been known to gobble frozen blueberries, so these are another potential wintertime treat. 

Cucumber

Most of the cucumbers in my plot are destined for the pickling vat, but the dogs can profit from that process. Slices of cuke that can't fit into my jars can fit right into their mouths, and disks of this vegetable stay cool and wet even when the weather is hot outside. Liam really likes to eat a cuke disk when it's 100+ outside, and now I'll have plenty to give him.

Carrots

This particular choice is for Sinead, not Liam. A few weeks ago, Liam and I played a "My Dog Will Eat That" game at the Willamette Humane Society Willamutt Strut, and Liam was outed when he wouldn't eat a carrot (of all things). He tends to chew them and shred them, but he won't swallow the meat. Sinead will happily eat a carrot, however, so much of this crop is for her. She enjoys a good chew, and the fiber in carrots helps her to stay regular.

Liam the smiling pug

Once my garden comes in, Liam will have all sorts of things to smile about. However, he will also have meat treats to nosh on.

I may be in the minority here, but I think treat variety is key to a happy dog. While Liam and Sinead enjoy veggie treats from time to time, they only go really wild for treats made of meat. Since they only get a few treats per day, I want those snacks to be as yummy as possible. So in addition to their fruits and veggies, they'll get commercial meat treats. They like them, and I like a happy dog.

Anyone else growing veggies or fruits for pets? Leave me a note in the comments!

5 comments:

  1. I never thought of trying cucumber with Ruby. She does like carrots and strawberries. But you are right, she still always prefers treats with meat or cheese. Just no getting around that!

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    1. Cheese and meat are ideal treats, IMHO. I do my part to health it up, but still.... They know what they like!

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  2. I grow catnip and cat grass for the kitties. And we grow celery for us, but some of the kitties seem to really like that too.

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    1. I grew my own nip one year, too, but didn't have great success. My cats are picky, I guess. I'll have to try that celery thing, though. Sounds interesting!

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  3. You are going to have some very happy pups!

    thank you for your kind words on Chandler.. it was appreciated.

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