Fall food is so good! Squash, including pumpkin and zucchini, sweet potatoes, even broccoli and cauliflower (yes, you can get them all year, but they do have a season and are best in autumn) and a variety of fall fruit, like quince, apples, and cranberries, are all making their annual appearance about now. Especially here in Ohio, the offerings at farmer’s markets and grocery produce departments (particularly the ones that purchase from local growers) display breathtaking colors, so good it’s sometimes hard to make yourself take it home before feasting. It’s okay to buy a little extra to nibble on the way home, and for many of these goodies, you can share with your pug on the way home too.
Lots of fruits and vegetables that we enjoy are safe for our pugs and as healthy for them as for us. Avoid grapes, raisins, onions and garlic, all of which can be toxic, and introduce new foods and citrus, like limes (also in season in fall) that may cause stomach upsets in sensitive dogs, but most other veggies – cabbage, squash, Brussels sprouts, yams, pumpkins – and fruits – apples, cranberries, pears, persimmons and pomegranates - are great seasonal additions to your pug’s diet. Giving him some of the bounty not only makes him feel like he’s gotten an extra-special treat, but also adds healthy vitamins, minerals and fibers to keep him hale and hearty.
This is a great time of year to buy pumpkins; thanks to Halloween, they’re easy to find almost anywhere, in an immense variety of shapes, sizes and shades from white to deep orange. The size and color, however, doesn’t matter too much – they’re good eating across the board. For you, cut a pumpkin in half, roast for about an hour in a 375 degree oven, then scoop the tender meat out, mash it with butter and maybe a pinch of cinnamon, and enjoy. For your dog, skip the butter, but the rest works just fine. Get several pumpkins while they’re available, roast them, then just put the cooked meat in plastic freezer bags or tubs and freeze so you’ll have it around all year. (Frozen roasted pumpkin lasts about 6-8 months in a small, refrigerator-top freezer or a full year in a stand-alone chest freezer.)
Pumpkin is loaded with healthy fiber and a lot of pug-owners add it to their dogs’ daily feed year ‘round, to avoid constipation and anal gland problems, as well as being good for urinary tract health. It’s also a tasty treat for a pudgy pug on a diet, good for filling him up without adding excess extra calories. Likewise, when it comes to colon problems and their prevention and treatment, apples are another friend. You always want to core, peel and seed them before serving, but the meat itself is amazing. Medicinally, it treats constipation and diarrhea equally well, helps prevent anal gland issues, and adds a bunch of healthy vitamins naturally. Most dogs, pugs included, love the taste of apple and will eat them most willingly. You can feed them raw, diced up a bit, or cooked, whichever you prefer.
Sweet potato is another excellent dietary enhancement for fall. For your dog, skip the marshmallows, but cooked and mashed or diced sweet potatoes provide beta carotene and phosphorus and are anti-inflammatory, very good for dogs with a little arthritis soreness.
Fruits are fun too, though a lot of people don’t realize dogs like them. Some, like grapes and raisins, are NOT good for dogs, being toxic to the canine liver. Others, though, like apple, pear, fig and pomegranate are good for your pug and likely to be welcomed as a healthy sweet treat. Like humans (and unlike cats) dogs have a sweet tooth but processed sugar isn’t particularly good for them. Make sure to remove the peels, seeds (except for pomegranate), stems, and pits from any fruit you share, to make them easier to digest (and safer – pits can be a choking hazard and apple seeds have trace amounts of cyanide.)
The only way to find out which of falls culinary delights your pug likes and will eat is to try. I know of one pug that likes jalapenos and citrus fruit, so you just have to try, watch and make sure that there are no upset tummies or allergies. Once you’re sure all is well with your individual dog, enjoy!