What veggies are good for dogs?

by Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

If you are feeding a raw diet, you may already know that the commonly followed ratio of meat, raw bones and veggies is 50/25/25.  While I agree that this ratio works well for most dogs, many of you ask me about what veggies and fruit to feed and which ones to avoid.

What do I recommend?  Follow nature’s recipe!

Lets start with fruit

I recommend that you give Fido only small amounts of fruit, (less than 5%) as dogs usually eat only small amounts of fruit in nature.

  • Feed fruit at least 1 hour before feeding meat or other proteins and a minimum of 3 hours after a protein meal.
  • Feed local and pesticide free fruit whenever possible.
Why are the time restrictions?

Because protein takes longer to digest and if you feed fruit and protein together, fruit may start to ferment, creating alcohol. The next thing you know, your dog is “under the influence” staggering around the house.

On a more serious note,  the most important reason is that fruit simply doesn’t digest as well with protein.  On its own, fruit exits the stomach quickly.  When you feed fruit with protein,  it sits in the stomach much longer which may create undesirable fermentation which can create a small amount of alcohol.

Eat your veggies and give your dog some too

Did your mom tell you to eat your veggies?  Of course she did and you listened, didn’t you?  If dogs had a choice, many of them would skip vegetables all together because they are like kids.  Skai doesn’t mind finely ground veggies, however, if I cut them in bigger chunks,  he is a master at picking pieces and spitting them out.

One of the reasons  why some dogs refuse to eat vegetables is that in natural settings,  wild canines eat plant material pre-digested. When you prepare your dogs veggies, I recommend using a food processor or a juicer to “predigest” or puree Fido’s veg’.  The other option is to purchase frozen finely ground veggies from a natural dog food store.

Dogs like veggies pre-digested

If Martha Stewart or The Naked Chef are your kind of people, read on.  I have something very important to tell you about making veggies.  It is simple, however, you have to know what you are doing..

Tips for preparing veggies

The diet of all canine’s should contain about  ¼ = 25% of veggies, 25% bones, 50% meat (where 5% is in the form of varied organ meat.)

This doesn’t mean  that you have to give the same amount of vegetables every day. Lets say it should be 25% over  a longer period. One day less,  one  day  more,  it doesn’t  really  matter.  I usually feed about  the same amount that I add to ground or chunky meat.  With a bone based meal,  I give no veggies.  All the veggies should be “pre-digested” by throwing them in a  food processor or Vitamix.

No Nightshade Family

There is a lot of anecdotal evIdence that dogs do not do well on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant  - the nightshade family. Unless someone does further research, we are left to claims that these veggies and dogs do not do well together. While I haven’t seen any practical evidence of dogs getting poisoned by tomatoes or their “cousins,” the leaves of these plants are definitely toxic.

Brocolli, Cabbage or Cauliflower myth or reality?

Some sources claim that the cruciferous family may increase the chances of hypothyroidism - a condition represented by low thyroid gland hormone. We also call these plants goitrogenic. I must confess that I have tried to stay away from these when feeding Skai, only because I am not sure if these claims are valid or not. I would love to hear from anyone who knows of a study confirming this claim.
I recommend either stay away from these veggies or feed them in small quantities.  Once again, when you are unsure, go with the lowest possible risk.  There are plenty of other vegetables that are definitely safe.

Carrots are not ideal

For some reason, dogs do not have a good ability to digest carrots especially if they are coarsely grated or in chunks. Some sources are also concerned about the levels of sugar in carrots.  There is a simple way to see if your dog has the ability to digest carrots.  Just feed them in chunks and see if you see carrots in your dog’s bowel movement.

Avoid Onions

Onions are known to be toxic to dogs and can cause red blood cell damage and anemia.  Some people claim that garlic should also be avoided.  However, my experience is that small amounts of garlic cause no issues.

Greens and sweet veggies please

Now that you know that dogs are designed for predigested veggies, it is important to know what to throw in the food processor. Lets start with the 50/50 formula. Curious? Read on.

At least 50% of your dogs veggies should be green leaves.   Leafy veggies resemble grasses and other greens that wild prey eat.  Greens also have numerous health benefits.  They are vitamin powerhouses, full of antioxidants and minerals. They also possess cleansing and pH balancing properties and are an excellent source of fiber. Good examples are lettuces, dandelion leaves, parsley, cilantro, basil, beet tops, carrot tops, kale, sprouted seeds etc.

The remaining 50% of the vegetable blend should consist of sweet veggies that are not leafy and this group consists of zucchini, green beans, green peas, red beets, yams and other carbohydrate rich vegetables.

If you are buying meat pre-made and would like to make veggies at home, here is a simple formula

50% Green leafy veggies and 50% sweet veggies mixed together

 

Supplements to fill in the gaps

No matter if you feed organic or non-organic veggies, nutrient, especially mineral depletion is highly likely without additional all natural supplements. Here is what you can do:

  1. Find out what is your dog missing by getting HairQ Test done 
  2. Supplement all natural plant based minerals such as GreenMin
  3. Add all natural certified organic multi-vitamin such as SoulFood.
  4. Other beneficial supplements are omega oils.

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