Are Veggies Good For Dogs?
Yes! The diet of all canines should contain about 25 percent veggies, 25 percent bone and 50 percent meat (and five percent is varied organ meat.) While I agree that this ratio works well for most dogs, many of you ask me what veggies and fruit to feed and which ones to avoid.
What do I recommend? Follow nature’s recipe!
This doesn’t mean you have to give the same amount of vegetables every day. Let's say it should be 25 percent over a longer period of time. 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 don't include any veggies.
Can Dogs Eat Fruit?
I recommend that you give Fido only small amounts of fruit, (less than five percent) as dogs usually eat only small amounts of fruit in nature.
- Feed fruit at least one hour before feeding meat or other proteins and a minimum of three hours after a protein meal
- Feed local and pesticide-free fruit whenever possible.
Because protein takes longer to digest, 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 and 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 altogether, 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 out the pieces and spitting them out.
One of the reasons why some dogs refuse to eat vegetables is because in natural settings wild canines eat plant material pre-digested. When you prepare your dog's 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 kinds 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...
What Are the Best Vegetables for Dogs?
Now that you know that dogs are designed for pre-digested veggies, it is important to know what to throw in the food processor. Let's start with the 50/50 formula. Curious? Read on.
At least 50 percent of your dog's veggies should be leafy greens.
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 fibre. Good examples are lettuces, dandelion leaves, parsley, cilantro, basil, beet tops, carrot tops, kale, sprouted seeds, etc.
The remaining 50 percent of the vegetable blend should consist of sweet veggies that are not leafy, and this group consists of zucchini, celery, green beans, green peas, red beets, orange fleshed sweet potatoes (often referred to as yams in North America) and other carbohydrate-rich vegetables.
If you are buying pre-made meat and would like to make veggies at home, here is a simple formula:
50 percent green leafy veggies and 50 percent sweet veggies mixed.
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.
Broccoli, Cabbage or Cauliflower myth or reality?
Some sources claim that the cruciferous family may increase 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 staying away from these veggies or feeding 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 can digest carrots: Just feed them in chunks and see if you find carrots in your dog’s bowel movement.
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.
Supplements to fill in the gaps
Regardless of whether or not you feed organic or non-organic veggies, nutrient and mineral depletion is highly likely without additional all-natural supplements. Here is what you can do:
- Find out what is your dog missing by getting a HairQ Test done
- Supplement all-natural, plant-based minerals such as GreenMin
- Add all natural, certified organic multi-vitamin such as SoulFood
- Include a dairy-free digestive formula such as GutSense
- Other beneficial supplements are Omega-3 oils
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM