If you’ve been researching a raw diet your dog, you may notice that some diets include fruits and veggies, and others only include meat.
Why should you feed your dog fruits and veggies? While you won’t see a wolf chowing down on carrots on a nature documentary, nor will you hear of a fox stealing a farmer’s corn, our dogs can gain a lot of health benefits from a diet that includes plants.
While dogs are carnivores, they can certainly eat fruits and veggies.
Wolves and other wild canines do eat plant matter, though foraging for berries and eating grass makes up a very small percentage of their diet. Keep in mind, though, that wild canines eat predigested plant matter found inside the stomach of their prey. In this form, plants are easier to digest.
As dogs were domesticated, they adapted to become more capable of breaking down starchy foods offered to them by early humans, such as grains, veggies, and bread. Wild canines that were able to break down starch into usable energy were able to better survive on human leftovers, and our modern dogs still carry these same genes that allow them to digest plant matter.
It’s not true, though, that dogs thrive on starch based diets. We know that they are better at digesting carbs than wolves, but we must also take into consideration how starchy diets have contributed to the canine obesity epidemic, dental disease that affects 80% of adult dogs, and cancer, which affects 50% of dogs over age 10.
To offer our dogs the best possible diet, we must consider how they originally evolved to eat raw meat, how they can now utilize plant matter, and how we can use our modern resources to feed our dogs even better than what they’d eat in the wild.
Many of the vitamins and minerals found in produce can also be found in meat, eggs, and fish. But some nutrients, known as phytonutrients, are only found in plants.
Carotenoids are what give carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, oranges, and apricots their vibrant orange and yellow colors. Carotenoids also act as antioxidants, which protect cells against damage that can lead to cancer and inflammation. Veggies containing carotenoids were shown to protect Scottish Terriers against bladder cancer in a 2005 study.
Flavonoids bring color to apples, berries, citrus fruit, and legumes. Like carotenoids, they act as antioxidants, and they have also been observed to help prevent weight gain.
Lycopene adds bright red color to watermelon, tomatoes, and pink grapefruits. It’s another antioxidant that has been shown to reduce cell damage. In one study, lycopene was shown to significantly slow renal tumor growth in rats.
Chlorophyll is associated with green, leafy veggies like kale, parsley, alfalfa, and spinach. It helps build immunity, fight infection, and heal wounds. It even aids digestion, which could help explain why dogs eat grass when they are suffering from tummy troubles. Chlorophyll also fights odor, making chlorophyll-containing veggies a key ingredient in many dog dental treats.
Adding fruits and veggies to your dog’s diet can help boost their digestion. If your dog suffers from gas, loose stools, vomiting, or constipation, they may be having trouble digesting their food properly, and they may not be absorbing all of its nutrients. Poor gut health can affect your dog’s immune system, their energy levels, and even their ability to learn.
Probiotics from kefir, yogurt, or a probiotic supplement contain microorganisms that help break down your dog’s food. They feed off of prebiotics or plant fibers from produce in your dog’s diet.
Fiber content in fruits and veggies can add bulk to firm up loose stools and help the gut retain water to ease constipation.
Never feed grapes, raisins, and onions, and seek emergency veterinary care if your dog their paws on them. Garlic can be fed in small amounts, and some people swear by it as a way to repel fleas and ticks.
Keep in mind that only the edible parts of fruits and veggies are safe to feed. Never allow your dog to eat or chew on fruit pits, inedible skins, vines, or other parts that are not normally eaten.
Do you ever give your dog carrots to munch on, only to find them relatively unchanged in their next morning’s poop?
Most fruits and veggies are difficult for dogs to fully break down, digest, and utilize. It’s always best to puree fruits and veggies, lightly steam them, or ferment them.
The easiest way to give your dog a nutritious, colorful diet is to feed Bone Appetit Raw Dog Food. We only use organic produce, free of pesticides and fertilizers that are harmful to the environment and may cause cancer.