Dog owners think of their canine companions as family members. From day-to-day activities to eating habits, as dog owners, we feel the need to make our furry playmates a part of everything we do. Whether it is lying on the couch watching TV or going on an exciting adventure, dogs love spending quality time with their owners.
As your puppy becomes more and more accustomed to their new life, the idea of sharing your food with your canine friend sounds less and less absurd. That should not surprise us – dogs are more than eager to lick the leftovers off their owners’ plate.
However, acknowledging the fact that dogs have different nutritional needs than humans is indispensable: what is healthy for you might be noxious to your dog.
While we always think of dogs as our meat-munching pets, the truth is, their diet has always included fruits and vegetables for thousands of years! What we need to do as dog owners is to research which fruits and veggies are healthy for our dogs. In one of our previous blogs, we discussed how to include fruit into our dog’s diet. Today, we’re turning our attention towards veggies and their contribution to our canine friends’ health and peace of mind!
Why You Should Feed Vegetables to Your Dog
Akin to humans, dogs require a myriad of nutrients for a balanced diet, some of which are not always found in meat. A lot of raw feeders think dogs don’t need vegetables too. They think an all-meat diet is enough to give their dogs all the nutrients they need.
For thousands of years wild canines have eaten the gut contents of their prey. For example, rabbits eat vegetation and that is digesting in their intestines. The dog eats the rabbit and not only gets the healthy meat from the rabbit but also the predigested vegetation. Dogs also regularly scavenge fruit, berries and other vegetable material as they need it.
One of the first reasons veggies are good for your dog is that balancing the alkalinity and acidity of the diet is important to your dog’s health. Your dog’s organs like the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, hormones, heart, kidneys function better in a more alkaline environment. Too much acidity in the body from meat can contribute to inflammation which is responsible for a lot of chronic diseases. But we are happy to report that most vegetables and some fruits have an alkalizing effect on the body.
If you think veggies are essential to a human’s proper growth, wait until you see the benefits they bring to a dog! Let’s take a look at some of the best-documented benefits:
They encompass an extensive range of nutrients, such as lipids, proteins, fats, etc.
They are rich in essential vitamins, such as vitamins A, B, C, E, and K.
They are a great source of minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Vegetables are an excellent source of water.
Phytonutrients are only found in vegetable material. So if your dog only eats meat, they are missing out on these powerful little nutrients. Some benefits are:
- Kill cancer cells
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote gut health
- Support a healthy liver
The foods richest in phytonutrients are berries, apples (and skin), broccoli and kale.
Probably the number one reason to include veggies is fiber! Raw vegetables supply healthy fiber. Fiber passes through the dog’s intestines mainly undigested. Once it reaches the colon, fiber is fermented by the bacteria living there. Fiber is made into healthy substances called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The SCFAs are then used for energy, to build immune cells and protect the mucus lining in the gut.
Based on these benefits, adding vegetables to your dog’s diet shouldn’t be something you remember to do from time to time, but, on the contrary, a top priority!
Staying Away from Unhealthy Veggies
Seeing how beneficial veggies are to your dog’s health, you might be tempted to fill their bowl with a variety of veggies. However, we highly discourage such behavior – as we said earlier, what is healthy for humans could be noxious to your dog. Knowing how to handpick the right vegetables for our dogs is key since some vegetables are not only noxious but also can be life-threatening to our canine companions! Let’s take a look at the following list and learn which veggies our dogs must stay clear from:
Aromatic vegetables in high quantities, such as onions and garlic, can attack and burst the dog’s red blood cells, causing low iron levels and harming their kidneys. Garlic in small quantities is not an issue and provides many benefits. Stay away from onions!
Corn – In many cases, corn consumption can lead to digestive and skin problems; numerous dog breeds imported from Europe have shown allergies to corn. Additionally, it contains high levels of carbohydrates, causing weight gain. Most corn used in kibble are GMO and are the reason dogs are sensitive.
Tomatoes – while the actual tomato is healthy, the stem and the leaves contain a substance called solanine, which is toxic for dogs.
What about Avocados?
Turning our attention away from unhealthy veggies, we come across an interesting choice for your dog and its snack time: avocados. This rich source of healthy fats, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals deserves to be included in your dog’s food bowl, as long as you provide it to your canine friend in healthy quantities. Furthermore, other parts of the plant, as well as the pit, tend to upset your dog’s stomach, so make sure that you separate them before feeding avocados to your dog.
Which Vegetables are Healthy? How to Feed Them to Our Dogs?
Now that you know which veggies are bad for your dog, let us turn our attention towards their healthy alternatives. The truth is, improving your dog’s diet with nutritious vegetables is easy! Carrots, with their high levels of potassium and vitamin A, spinach, with its rich iron composition, cucumbers, with their low carbohydrate levels – all these veggies deserve to be in your puppy’s bowl!
However, picking these veggies is only half the work – feeding them to our dogs in an adequate manner is the other key component. As dog owners, we should remember that our furry playmates are carnivores primarily, which is why keeping the percentage of veggies under an appropriate level (less than 10%) is recommended. Always remember that dogs get their share of veggies mainly from indirect sources; too many of them are going to upset your dog’s digestive system, increase alkalinity, or even lead to kidney issues.
Have you picked the right veggies for your pooch? Splendid! Now, let’s feed them to your dog in a proper manner. Here are some helpful hints and tips on how to prepare vegetables for dogs:
Cooking the vegetables beforehand, both through blanching (scalding veggies in boiling water, followed by submerging them in cold water) or steaming, cleanses and makes them easier to digest.
Pureeing the veggies and mixing them into regular meals are a helpful technique when dealing with dogs that are not particular fans of vegetables. Moreover, pureeing the veggies is an effective way to avoid accidents such as choking.
Freezing the puree in an ice cube tray is an excellent method for storing extra food for your pooch.
Fermented veggies are the closest thing to the predigested veggies found in the prey that dogs would eat in the wild. Think about sauerkraut! Cabbage and sea salt is what you want to look for in a good sauerkraut for dogs. The fermentation process provides good bacteria which feed off the sugar and starch in the cabbage and leave behind a very bioavailable keto friendly veggie which is predigested. The good bacteria help to populate the gut microbiome at the same time!
It is safe to say that, having read their well-documented benefits, the thought of including veggies into our dogs’ diet is a splendid idea. As long as we stay clear of some vegetables, sharing a healthy snack with our dogs will make them happier and healthier! For more information concerning dogs and their nutritional needs, feel free to contact us or check out our blog!