Many of us love the idea of a diverse, colorful salad because it is visually appealing. But what about for our dogs? You bet, feeding the rainbow in their diet with varying colors is good for them too.
There’s just so many of them! But while whole foods like vegetables and fruit contain complex sources of nourishment, they are generally categorized into a limited number of colors. Simply looking at their color can give you great insight as to what element of health various foods are likely to support.
Most importantly, eating a wide array of colors every day is the best approach to getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Here are the most common food colors and their beneficial attributes: My rule of thumb when feeding dogs is 3% fruit, up to 30% veggie about 70% Meat and a package of our products, to give the extra Umph.
Red foods are rich in the phytonutrients lycopene and anthocyanin, which greatly benefits the circulatory system by helping build healthy cell walls. In addition ellagic acid, quercetin, hesperidin, fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. which improves blood pressure, organ function, and circulation.
Red foods consist of everything from fruits, including watermelon, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, apples; and vegetables like tomatoes, red peppers, and red cabbage. These colorful and tasty foods are gifts from nature.
Red color tomatoes contain lycopene, a red pigment that may help with protecting against certain cancers. Tomatoes are also loaded with antioxidants from vitamins A and C to help protect against cell damage.
In its little and plump ruby red seeds, pomegranate are packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, and healthful soluble fiber when you eat the entire seed.
Red beets are a good source of vitamin C for fighting the common cold, and betaine for cardiovascular health. Beets have zero fats, are low in calories, and are a great energy booster because they are high in carbohydrates and a natural source of sugar.
Benefit of eating reds:
Reduce the risk of prostate cancer
Protects the body from prostate, cervical and lung cancer
Reduces tumor growth
Protects the body from harmful free-radicals
Protects the body against heart disease
Lowers blood pressure
Support joint tissue for those with arthritis
Keeps one regular aiding in gastrointestinal health
Green vegetables contain many different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant nutrients, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene. But did you know that green foods get their color from chlorophyll, a natural blood purifier that supports the liver and kidneys in the elimination of toxins. They also contain high amounts of Vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and building strong bones.
Most green foods consist of an array of vegetables: spinach, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, celery, peas, green beans, green peppers and a variety of leafy greens. There are also green fruits such as kiwi, avocado, pears, grapes and apples.
•Kale is highly nutritious and delicious, packed with vitamin K, A and C, iron, and antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids. Kale is a fantastic plant-based source of calcium.
These nutrients can do the following:
Reduce the risk of cancer
Keep you regular with normal bowel movements and digestive processes
Support retinal health and vision
Fight harmful free radicals in the body
Boost the immune system
Keep you generally more healthy
Purple foods contain the most antioxidants of all the colors and therefore contribute to overall health, disease prevention, longevity, and help maintain a healthy brain.
Blue and purple produce have many different nutrients including, lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, Vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. Many of these nutrients are also found in red fruits and vegetables as well.
Try these blue and purple vegetables:
Eggplant, Cabbage, Endive, Purple Asparagus, Purple Carrots
Try these fruits:
Plums, Blueberries, Blackberries, Currants, Elderberries, Prunes
These nutrients can do the following:
Helps fight inflammation,
Improves the bodies ability to absorb calcium and other nutrients,
Supports eye health, specifically for the retina,
Helps to boost the immune system,
Supports healthy digestion for the GI tract,
Acts as anticarcinogens (battles cancer causing cells) especially throughout the digestive tract, Reduces tumor growth, Limits the activity of cancer cells throughout the body
Yellow and Orange
Yellow foods are rich in Vitamin C, which helps reduce inflammation, prevent allergies, and maintain healthy skin, due to its’ ability to combat free radicals. Yellow foods also contain citrus bioflavanoids, which strengthens the collagen in your skin, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Examples of yellow foods include lemons, pineapples, yellow peppers, and grapefruit.
•Whole or squeezed, lemons have incredible immune-boosting powers, and lemon juice is fantastic as a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons also contain citric acid, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, bioflavonoids, and pectin.
Orange foods are high in beta-carotene, which our bodies transform into Vitamin A and antioxidants. These nutrients aid in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and infections by supporting an important part of the immune system: our mucous membranes. Beta-carotene also helps maintain healthy eyes and skin.
Examples of orange foods include carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, squash, and oranges.
•Orange color vegetables like carrots contain not only vitamins like vitamin C for immune health, but also compounds called carotenoids that aid in maintaining good vision health.
These bright-colored fruits and vegetables contain zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene, which is vitamin A.
The nutrients help our dogs bodies in many different ways, from our eyes to our bones:
Aids in eye health and reduces the risk of macular degeneration of the eye
Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
Lowers blood pressure
Promotes healthy joints
Promotes collagen formation
Fights harmful free radicals in the body
Encourages pH balance of the body
Boosts immune system
Builds healthier bones by working with calcium and magnesium
There are so many orange and yellow fruits, such as:
Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Ugli fruit, Pummelos
Bananas, Apricots, Nectarines, Persimmons, Mangos
Peaches, Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Papaya, Starfruit
Just to name a few. Also, we can’t forget about veggies:
Carrots, Sweet potatoes, Pumpkin, Butternut, acorn and summer squash,
Orange and yellow peppers, and Yellow beets
Don’t forget about herbs like ginger that also share this color. So as you can see, there is no shortage in the array of fruits and vegetables we can choose with these sunshine hues.
White natural foods have a wide range of beneficial nutrients, such as anthoxanthins, sulfur, and quercetin. These substances boost the immune system because they are anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory, which helps the body fight infections.
Examples of white foods include garlic, cauliflower, and daikon radish.
Garlic acts as a natural health remedy for various ailments, strengthening the immune system and is used in fighting off infections. Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep a healthy immune system and for new cell growth.
Even though some people think that white is not a color, the white fruits and vegetables have many nutrients, including beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignins. These nutrients help to balance hormones, which in turn reduces the risk of many cancers relating to hormones. Moreover, they have the ability to activate the B and T cells which help battle cancer in the body. They also help the immune system which is always a good thing.
Can you think of some of your favorite white produce?
Potatoes, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Cauliflower, Turnips,
Kohlrabi, Pears (flesh), Garlic, Fresh Ginger
This wouldn’t be complete without the cautionary, do not feed dog list.
Here’s an alphabetized list of foods that are unsafe and unfit for canine consumption, many of which are toxic for dogs. We’ll be updating it and adding foods as we learn more. The ones in red italics are especially dangerous and often poisonous for canines.
Alcohol – I’m sure you’ve heard of the birthday parties where the dog accidentally gets into some of the spilled keg beer, and then gets all silly to the amusement of the crowd. While it may be funny to you, it’s not funny to your dog. Alcohol can cause not only intoxication, lack of coordination, poor breathing, and abnormal acidity, but potentially even coma and/or death.
Apple Seeds – The casing of apple seeds are toxic to a dog as they contain a natural chemical (amygdlin) that releases cyanide when digested. This is really only an issue if a large amount was eaten and the seed were chewed up by the dog, causing it to enter its blood stream. But to play it safe, be sure to core and seed apples before you feed them to your dog.
Avocado – Avocados contain Persin, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and heart congestion.
Baby Food – Baby food by itself isn’t terrible, just make sure it doesn’t contain any onion powder. Baby food also doesn’t contain all the nutrients a dog relies on for a healthy, well maintained diet.
Cooked Bones – When it comes to bones, the danger is that cooked bones can easily splinter when chewed by your dog. Raw (uncooked) bones, however, are appropriate and good for both your dog’s nutritional and teeth.
Candy and Chewing Gum – Not only does candy contain sugar, but it often contains Xylitol, which can lead to the over-release of insulin, kidney failure, and worse.
Cat Food – Not that they would want this anyway, but cat food contains proteins and fats that are targeted at the diet of a cat, not a dog. The protein and fat levels in cat food are too high for your dog, and not healthy.
Chocolate – You’ve probably heard this before, but chocolate is a definite no no for your pup. And it’s not just about caffeine, which is enough to harm your dog by itself, but theobromine and theophylline, which can be toxic, cause panting, vomiting, and diarrhea, and damage your dog’s heart and nervous systems.
Citrus Oil Extracts – Can cause vomiting.
Coffee – Not sure why you would give your dog coffee, but pretty much the same applies here as to chocolate. This is essentially poison for your dog if ingested.
Corn on the Cob– This is a sure way to get your dog’s intestine blocked. The corn is digested, but the cob gets lodged in the small intestine, and if it’s not removed surgically, can prove fatal to your dog. Additionally, too much corn kernels can upset the digestive tract as well so be cautious to not feed too much.
Fat Trimmings – Can cause pancreatitis.
Fish – The primary fish that you need to be careful about are salmon and trout. Raw salmon can be fatal to dogs if the fish is infected with a certain parasite, Nanophyetus salmincola. The parasite itself isn’t dangerous to dogs, but is often infected with a bacteria called Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which in many cases is fatal to dogs if not treated properly. If diagnosis occurs early on, the dog has a great chance of recovering. Cooked salmon is fine as it kills the parasite.
Garlic – While garlic can be okay for dogs in very small amounts (and even beneficial for flea treatment), larger amounts can be risky.
Grapes and Raisins – This is one that lots of dog owners are unaware of. Grapes contain a toxin that can cause severe liver damage and kidney failure. We’ve heard stories of dogs dying from only a handful of grapes so do not feed your pup this toxic food.
Hops – An ingredient in beer that can be toxic to your dog. The consumption of hops by your dog can cause panting, an increased heart rate, fever, seizures, and even death.
Human Vitamins – Some human vitamins are okay to use, but the key is comparing the ingredients (all of them – active and inactive) to the vitamins your vet subscribes for your dog (often you can get the human equivalent for much less money). Make sure there’s no iron – iron can damage the digestive system lining, and prove poisonous for the liver and kidneys.
Liver – In small amounts, liver is great but avoid feeding too much liver to your dog. Liver contains quite a bit of Vitamin A, which can adversely affect your pup’s muscles and bones.
Macadamia Nuts – These contain a toxin that can inhibit locomotory activities, resulting in weakness, panting, swollen limbs, and tremors as well as possible damage to your dog’s digestive, nervous, and muscle systems.
Chihuahua with big bone Marijuana – Not that you would pass the bong to your dog, but if you do, you should know that marijuana can adversely affect your pup’s nervous system and heart rate, and induce vomiting.
Milk and Dairy Products – While small doses aren’t going to kill your dog, you could get some smelly farts and some nasty cases of diarrhea. Why? Dogs are lactose intolerant (as are an increasing number of humans today), and don’t have enough of the lactase enzyme to properly digest dairy foods. If you really need to give them dairy, look into lactose-free dairy products.
Mushrooms – Just as the wrong mushroom can be fatal to humans, the same applies to dogs.
Onions and Chives – No matter what form they’re in (dry, raw, cooked, powder, within other foods), onions are some of the absolute worst foods you could possibly give your pup (it’s poisonous for dogs, and its even worse for cats). They contain disulfides and sulfoxides (thiosulphate), both of which can cause anemia and damage red blood cells.
Pits and seeds Persimmons, Peaches and Plums – Peach pits are not only a choke hazard they contain amygdalin, a cyanide and sugar compound that degrades into hydrogen cyanide (HCN) when metabolized. Pear seeds also contain trace amount of arsenic and are dangerous. So if you live in an area that is home to persimmon, peach, or plum trees, look out. Persimmon seeds and peach and plum pits can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis. You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any wild persimmon or other fruit trees that produce seeds growing in your backyard. If you notice your dog pooping all over the place, and see a bunch of seeds or pits in their waste, you’ll need to break out the saw and chop down some trees.
Rhubarb and Tomato Leaves – These contain oxalates, which can adversely affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems.
Raw Fish – Another vitamin B (Thiamine) deficiency can result from the regular consumption of raw fish. Loss of appetite will be common, followed by seizures, and in rare instances, death.
Salt – Just like salt isn’t the healthiest thing for humans, it’s even less healthy for dogs. Too much of it can lead to an imbalance in electrolyte levels, dehydration and potentially diarrhea.
Spices containing Capsaicin – Capsaicin, found in black pepper and just about any other pepper (bell, chili, etc.), is an irritant for mammals of all shape and size.
String – While not a food itself, foods can often contain or be similar to string (ie. meat you’ve wrapped for the oven). If your dog were to eat a string, it could get stuck in their digestive tract and cause complications.
Sugar – This applies to any food containing sugar. Make sure you check the ingredient label for human foods – corn syrup (which is a less expensive form of sugar or glucose) is found in just about everything these days. Too much sugar for your pup can lead to dental issues, obesity, and even diabetes.
Tobacco – A major toxic hazard for dogs (and humans). The effects nicotine has on dogs are far worse than on humans. Nicotine can damage your pup’s digestive and nervous systems, increase their heart rate, make them pass out, and ultimately result in death.
Xylitol – A sugar alcohol found in gum, candies, baked goods, and other sugar-substituted items, Xylitol, while causing no apparent harm to humans, is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, even death for your pup.
Yeast (on its own or in dough) – Just like yeast rises in bread, it will also expand and rise within your pup’s tummy. Make sure they don’t get any. While mild cases will cause gas, lots of farting, and discomfort – too much of it could rupture their stomach and intestines.