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On my journey as a raw feeder, I've gone back and forth on whether I should add vegetables to my dogs' diet. Ultimately, I decided that vegetables were an important part of my dogs' diet because they provide five amazing benefits:
- Vegetables provide additional nutrients. Despite the fact that many believe (and I drank this Kool-Aid too) that an 80/10/10 diet is all our dogs need. But I've learned first hand that this isn't true for all dogs. For instance, meat from grass-fed animals is more nutritious than grain fed animals. There are many ways in which a raw diet may be nutrient deficient and I believe adding vegetables to my dogs' raw diet fills in those nutritional gaps.
- Vegetables are a great source of fiber. Gut health is important to me because I'm raising a dog with digestive issues and food sensitivities. There was a time when Rodrigo was rapidly losing weight because his body wasn't absorbing nutrients in his diet. Adding a natural source of fiber (along with a digestive supplement) slows the digestive to allow his body to better absorb the nutrients in his food.
- Vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. The high rate of dogs being diagnosed with canine cancer is shocking. I often look at my four dogs and think that two or all four could have a cancer scare and it freaks me out. So anything I can add to my dogs' diet to help fight off cancer cells is a good thing.
- Vegetables are a great ingredient in a weight loss diet. My girls tend to put on weight easier than my boys, so they eat less food. To keep them from feeling full, I add vegetables, usually green beans, to their dishes. They love them and green beans are a low glycemic and low-calorie treat.
- Fermented vegetables offer all of the above PLUS a natural source of probiotics. I ferment vegetables and seeds and add both regularly to my dogs' raw meals, mixing in with ground meat or organ meat.
Ways to Add Vegetables to a Dog's Diet
There is a lot of talk about the cellulose wall of vegetables. People believe that unless the cellulose wall of a vegetable is broken, through predigestion (or puree or lightly cooking), then the vegetable's nutrients cannot be absorbed by a dog's system. That being the case, I add vegetables to my dogs' diet in two ways
9 Vegetables I Add to My Dogs' Diet
1 – Broccoli
Although broccoli is a pain in the butt to feed to my dogs (chopping it up creates a mess), it's a
2 – Green Beans
When I began adding green beans to my dogs' diet, it was to promote weight loss. Replacing food with green beans reduces the calories in the meal while helping my dogs feel full. But that's not the only benefit of green beans for dogs (and humans). Green beans help to fight cancer thanks to the antioxidants and vitamin C present. Green beans are a low glycemic vegetable, making it great if we're feeding a keto diet, if a dog has diabetes, or if a dog needs to lose weight. Green beans are high in vitamin K, helping to support strong bones and teeth. And the fiber in green beans boosts digestive health.
3 – Cabbage
To be honest, I add red cabbage to bring some color to my ferment blend – a 100% green ferment is boring. But it's not just about looks with red cabbage as it is rich in vitamin C, which supports a strong immune system and the ever-present, cancer-fighting antioxidants help to fortify the system against damaged caused by free radicals. The nutrients in red cabbage reduce chronic inflammation, making this a great food for dogs with arthritis and allergies, both inflammatory conditions. And, finally, when fermented, cabbage is fantastic for gut health due to the natural probiotics added to the diet.
4 – Zucchini
Zucchini is my favorite vegetable and I often saute it with yellow squash (listed below) and mushrooms. Yummm, now I know what I'll have for dinner tonight. Basically, zucchini isn't just
5 – Celery
I don't often add celery to my dogs' diet, but researching the benefits of each vegetable makes me wonder if I should start again. What I've always loved about celery was that it's a low calorie, high moisture food, which, in my opinion, makes it a perfect food for dieting. But that's not all. Celery helps to lower inflammation, support liver health, improves digestion, reduces bloating, and prevents urinary tract infections. It's amazing that this vegetable, which, to be honest, doesn't taste all that great, offers so much support.
6 – Collard Greens
I grew up eating collard greens and it's one of my favorite meals. Out of all the cruciferous vegetables, collard greens are my favorite because they aren't as bitter as many of the other leafy greens. Or maybe they are, but they way my mom cooked them made them wonderful. Whatever the reason, collard greens are rich in antioxidants, help to detoxify the system, supports heart health, and this fiber-rich food is great for digestive health. Collard greens are high in vitamin A (reduces inflammation) and vitamin K (supports healthy bones). And they help the system burn fat. I'll take two bunches, please.
7 – Garlic
Before you scroll down and leave a comment about the dangers of garlic, please no that garlic is great for dogs (and humans). It takes a tremendous amount of garlic to result in toxicity and to avoid this risk, I'll share the dosage below. For now, let me share why I add garlic to my ferment:
- Garlic ruins the taste of dogs to fleas and ticks, acting as a natural repellent.
- Garlic in the bloodstream helps to boost the immune system while killing off cancer cells.
- Garlic strengthens the liver so that it can do a better job detoxing the system.
- Garlic offers natural antibiotic properties that help to kill parasites and fight viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
- Garlic supports heart healthy while reducing cholesterol.
But, how much garlic is safe for dogs? Dr. Pitcairn shares the safe dosages in his book, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
- For dogs that weigh between 10-15 lbs – 1/2 clove
- For dogs that weigh between 20-40 lbs – 1 clove
- For dogs that weigh between 45-70 lbs – 2 cloves
- For dogs that weigh between 75-90 lbs – 2.5 cloves
- For dogs that weigh more than 100 lbs – 3 cloves
When adding garlic to my ferment, I add 5-6 cloves per
8 – Yellow Squash (Summer Squash)
To be honest, the reason I add yellow squash to my dogs' vegetable blend is must-have because of the color. Hey, I like a pretty ferment. But squash brings more to the menu than just a pretty face. Scroll back on up to zucchini for a refresher on the benefits since these two vegetables are related. What I didn't add above is that zucchini and squash are both sources of starch, which has received a bad rap thanks to processed pet foods. But no worries, these two vegetables are low in calories and natural sugars.
9 – Asparagus
Alternative to Fermenting Vegetables
I had a vegetable garden this past summer, growing all of the vegetables that I ferment for my dogs along with artichokes for myself (love artichokes) and berries that the dogs ate straight off the plants. I was fermenting a huge batch of vegetables monthly and I'm still working my way through those vegetables because I alternate them with base mixes by Dr. Harvey's. Raw Vibrance, a grain-free base mix created to balance a dog's raw diet, and Paradigm, a low-carb and low-glycemic, green super-food premix.
Both Raw Vibrance and Paradigm are made with dehydrated vegetables and other foods (raw goat's milk, shiitake mushrooms, and more) that I give to my dogs regularly, which makes them a fantastic addition to my dogs' raw diet; adding variety and more nutritional balance.
Why I Use a Base Mix
Years ago someone told me that the reason I was using a base mix (I used an alternative brand that I no longer recommend) because I was too lazy to learn how to make my dogs' raw meals. While I disagree with the statement that I'm lazy, I am thankful to the blunt individual because her statement inspired me to dump the base mix and transition to DIY raw feeding. Today, I use a base mix because it's an integral part of my dogs' diet:
- A quality base mix provides nutritional balance.
- A quality base mix saves me time and money.
- A quality base mix allows me to adding the best ingredients, formulated by professionals who believe that fresh is best for our pets.
Using a Base Mix in Meal Prep
I'm on a budget so I signed up on the Dr. Harvey's website for the newsletter to receive notifications about their specials; I scored recently with a 6-pound bag of Raw Vibrance. The serving recommendations on for the base mix is for individual meals. When mixing up a batch of raw that will feed my dogs for several days, I use 1/2-3/4 cup of base mix for every 8-quart mixing bowl.
Base Mix vs. Supplements
When I use a base mix, I do add fewer supplements to my dogs' diet. For example, I don't add organic kelp or milk thistle. And although the base mix is great when I don't have a source of bone, I sometimes add the base mix to ground meat and bone because I don't mind if my dogs have a high calcium week that I offset with lower calcium the following week.
Sources for This Blog Post
- Dr. Axe has a long list of vegetables and fruits with nutrients and benefits.
- The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
This is a sponsored post. Keep the Tail Wagging® is working with Dr. Harvey's to promote their new base mix, Raw Vibrance (which I love, by the way) and other products. I have received compensation in exchange for freelance articles and product reviews; however, despite receiving compensation, all thoughts are honest and my own.