Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Fresh, Raw and Whole Food For Your Dog's Health - What to Select, Preparation, Mistakes to Avoid

In this article understand what whole, fresh, raw foods are good for your dog;
How to prepare and feed these foods to your dog;
Mistakes to avoid making.

Fresh whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat, healthy oils, herbs and spices offer our dogs digestible, nutrient rich food without the dangerous ingredients, additives, toxins and carcinogens found in many pet store food products.

My dogs are raw fed - meat, organs, bone, fresh raw fruit, fresh greens, sprouts, herbs, and vegetables.

Feeding your dog fresh whole foods as part of a balanced diet can have a profoundly positive affect on a dog's overall health and can be a great aid in avoiding, treating and remedying many health issues - for example periodontal problems and GI tract problems.


Meat is a rich source of protein, amino acids and contains many nutrients necessary for the health of dogs. Protein is the primary and species appropriate food for a dog. Dogs can survive without carbohydrates but they cannot survive without protein and fat in their diet. Organically raised, pasture fed chemical free (no antibiotics, no growth hormones, none GMO grain feed, etc) raised is always a better choice than meat coming from farms that use antibiotics, steroids, pesticide and herbicide, GMO feed. Some people like to feed their dog raw meat, while others prefer to provide their dog with cooked meat. I feed my dogs a raw diet and I have the majority of my clients' dogs on raw diets. I have some of my clients' dogs on gently cooked and fresh food diet. For most dogs the best diet is a raw diet.  However a raw diet doesn't suit all dogs as there are some health issues and conditions (temporary or long-term) that require a gently cooked and fresh food diet.

Appropriate and Safe Protein Sources for Dogs

Lean red muscle and organ meat such as:


And other ruminant meats. 
Don't use carnivore meats.
For best nutritional profile/health benefits choose grass fed, pasture raised or organic sourced meat.

Poultry such as:

Turkey, etc.

- free range, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, GMO-free, pastured or organic preferred.

Fish (wild or wild-caught) in particular fatty fish such as:
For more information on appropriate fish, and how to select the best options you can go here.

You can also add other forms of protein such as:

Eggs - free-range, non-GMO or organic
Raw - make sure you wash the eggshell before cracking open

Dairy - sourced from pastured, grass-fed or organic source dairy
Cottage Cheese or Quark
Hard Cheese such as cheddar cheese, mozzarella for example
Goats milk

Seeds - organic
Chia or saba chia seeds - whole or ground
Flax Seeds (brown or golden, use ground flax seed as opposed to whole flax seed)
Hemp seed
Sesame seed
Pumpkin Seeds (best if pulverized or ground)

Tree Nuts - organic, only, fresh not stale in small amounts.
For information on seeds and nuts that pose serious danger to a dog's health read here.

There are some facts that you need to be aware of when it comes to whole food protein...

Dairy products…Just like with people, some dogs are lactose intolerant. None of my dogs have any adverse reaction to cheese or yogurt. Yogurt is a good source of protein and also a source of acidophilus which helps to prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the digestive track. Plain yogurt or yogurt with natural fruit sweetened with honey is best. Yogurt sweetened with sugar is alright but your dog does not require sugar. Yogurt sweetened with artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Xylitol is especially dangerous for dogs and can result in liver damage.

Raw eggs…My dog's get raw organic eggs - the entire egg (shell, egg white and egg yolk). Some people advise that dogs should not be given raw eggs due to the chance of salmonella poisoning. A dog’s stomach acids are stronger than a human’s and a dog produces more bile than a human does. While dogs are better at fighting salmonella than humans, dogs still get salmonella poisoning, but they can tolerate higher levels of salmonella than we can. Wash egg shell's thoroughly prior to use. Also, it is important to note that eggs contain avidin, an enzyme that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). Bioten deficiency can lead to hair and coat problems. Avoiding bioten deficiency is simple - make sure you always  give your dog the egg white, and egg yolk.

Peanuts. Aflatoxins grow on grains and legumes. Peanuts are aground nut and are a legume. Aflatoxins cause liver cancer. If you want to give your dog nuts choose tree nuts such as almonds. I have treated dogs for aflatoxicosis - it is a very serious condition.

Too much protein? Yes, the ongoing debate about how much protein is too much for a dog’s diet. While I think it is best to provide a variety of foods to dogs, I think we need to fixate less on worrying about too much protein and be more concerned about the quality of the protein. In particular the protein source in kibble! Ingesting and processing high quality protein does not strain and damage a dog’s organs the way poor quality protein does. This is one reason why you need to be mindful of the protein source in the kibble you feed your dog. If you would like to learn a little more about this subject you can click here

Fruits and Vegetables
Many people think that giving a dog fruit and/or vegetables will give the dog diarrhea. In actual fact high quality soluble fiber helps prevent diarrhea and constipation. 
Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion thereby delaying the emptying of the stomach and makes a dog feel full, which helps control hunger and weight. Slower stomach emptying can also have a beneficial affect on controlling blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which helps control diabetes. Apples, oranges, pears, berries, cucumbers, celery, and carrots are examples of fruits and vegetables that provide soluble fibers.

Insoluble fibers are gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) friendly as they have a laxative effect, add bulk to the diet and help prevent constipation. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the GI tract primarily intact speeding up the passage of food and waste. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, fruit, and root vegetable skins are examples of fruits and vegetables that provide unsoluble fibers. 

As noted above, fruit and veggies contain a lot of good soluble and unsoluble fibre, but they are also rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and are naturally low in fat while being filling.  

Eating fresh fruit and vegetables also plays an important role in:
  • Helping to boost the immune system;
  • Helping the body eliminate toxins;
  • Keeping organs, eyes, teeth etc. healthy;
  • Support joint health;
  • Preventing colon cancer;
  • Reducing the risk of developing heart and vascular problems, stroke and cancer;
  • Reducing the risk of inflamed anal glands (which result in ‘scudding’, burst glands and discharge);
  • Aiding in good oral health;
If your dog is overweight one of the best ways to help it to lose weight is to add veggies to the dog’s diet. The herb turmeric can also help as can coconut oil. While delivering great quality nutrients they also help:
  • Keep weight under control - thereby reducing risk of:
  • Diabetes, and:
  • Stress on joints. 
  • Inflammation of joints is another contributing factor to the onset of cancer. 
These are just a few of the many benefits that fruits and veggies offer to our dog’s health.

In the wild, dogs eat pre-digested fruits and vegetables when the consume the digestive organs of herbaceous prey, as well they also consume some plants, fruits, vegetables to self-heal and boost their immune systems. Grass is one such example.
The fruits and vegetables that I give to me dogs on a daily basis vary a little depending on the season, for instance watermelon in the summer and oranges in the winter. The following provides a partial list of fruits and vegetables that are good for dogs. You can use fresh, or frozen fruit. I do not recommend using canned fruit or vegetable unless you have an emergency. If you are going to give your dog canned fruit, make sure it is packed in juice not syrup - sugar is not good for dogs. You can use fresh, of fresh-frozen and/or cooked veggies.

Fruit that is Safe & Beneficial for Dogs to Consume
The following is a partial list...

Apples (remove the seeds)
Avocado - in small amounts daily is fine for most dogs. Avocados contain persin - a fungicidal toxin. When a dog is fed large amounts of the fruit vomiting and diarrhea can result from overdose of persin.  The pit of the avocado is toxic to dogs and should never be consumed by dogs. My dogs get avocado every day.

Canary Melon
Cherries (remove the pit)
Coconut (fresh or dry non sweetened, shredded)
Goji Berries (if your dog is on medications check for drug interactions)

Honeydew Melon
Mangos (remove the pit)
Nectarines (remove the pit)
Peaches (remove the pit)
Pears (remove the seeds)



Yuzu fruit

Vegetables that are Safe & Beneficial for Dogs to Consume
The following is a partial list...

Broccoli Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts

Clover sprouts

Kelp, Chlorella, Marine Phytoplankton, Spirulina
Leafy greens - beet greens, green or red leaf lettuce, frizzy lettuce, kale, radicchio, romaine, spinach, cilantro, dandelion, parsley
Squash - various types, summer and winter squash.
Sweet Peppers - green, yellow, orange and red, purple, etc.
Mushrooms - Chaga, Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi and other dog-safe mushrooms. Please note many other types of mushrooms are toxic to dogs, just as they are to people.



Roots Vegetables 
The following is a partial list...

Fennel (bulb and greens)

How To Feed Your Dog Fruits and Veggies…
Preparation to Ensure Maximum Absorption of Nutrients from Fresh Fruit and 

In order to make sure your dog gets the full benefit of nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables you need to understand a little about the difference between a dog's and a human's GI Tract...

Optimizing The Absorption of Nutrients...
  • Dogs have a shorter intestine than humans, this means that food moves through the dogs GI  tract faster than it moves through a humans GI Tract; To ensure that your dog's digestive system has the opportunity to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from vegetables and fruit it is important (especially with vegetables which have a tougher cell wall structure) to help the dog's GI tract by breaking down the vegetable's (or fruit's) cell-walls before you feed it to your dog;
    • You can breakdown the cell walls by choosing one of the following method's...
      1. Finely chop fruit and vegetables - either by hand or with a food processor;

      2. Lightly steam vegetables, or
      3. Freeze the vegetables or fruit first, thaw and then give them to your dog;
    • Make a smoothie as per the example just below.
    • By choosing one of these four methods to breakdown the food's cell-wall you:
      • Perform the first stage of digestion, so your dog's GI tract has the opportunity to absorb nutrients properly, and; 
      • You greatly reduce the chance of your dog choking on a hard piece of vegetable.

The photo above is a freshly pureed batch of fruits and vegetables for my own dogs. I make a large batch to last about 20 days. I package and freeze the puree into daily portions

Most fruit has a softer cell wall than vegetables;
  • You don't have to chop berries such as blackberries and raspberries;
    • But you should cut most other fruit up in smaller pieces, and:
    • Harder fruits like apples and pineapples are best if chopped finely; 
  •  If you are giving your dog frozen fruit:
    •  You should chop the fruit up to avoid a choking hazard;  
    • I add fresh finely minced ginger and ground cinnamon, and sometimes mint, fresh apples, pears - toss the mixture into the food processor and blend the 3 or 4 items together.
Make a Smoothie for Your Dog
Green Leafy Smoothie
If you want to give your dog fresh leafy greens - such as romaine, kale, spinach, beet greens, etc. you can...
  • Chop the greens either by hand or in a food processor and mix a little into your dog's food, or;
  • You can toss the greens into a blender with some homemade chicken stock and make a smoothie - store in the refrigerator for up to three days and just add to your dog's food once a day...
    General Guideline
    • X-Small Dogs and Cats - 1 tbs;
    • Small Dogs and Cats – 1/8 cup;
    • Medium size dogs – ¼ cup;
    • Large dogs – 1/3 to ½ cup. 
    • Every dog has his / her own metabolic rate, and unique needs, so keep in-mind that above is a general guideline - some dogs may thrive with less and others with more.
Fruit Smoothie 
If you want to give your dog fresh or frozen fruit in a nutrient rich smoothie...
  • Toss the fruit into a blender with some kefir or yogurt or use homemade chicken stock to make a smoothie - store in the refrigerator for up to three days and just add to your dog's food once a day...
    • X-Small Dogs and Cats - 1 tbs;
    • Small Dogs and Cats – 1/8 cup;
    • Medium size dogs – ¼ cup;
    • Large dogs – 1/3 to ½ cup.
Do's and Don't s:

  1. Don’t give your dog produce that is going bad - moldy, rotting, slimy, you can make your dog very ill.
  2. Don't mix fresh whole or coarsely cut fruit and veggies with a main protein meal.
    1. You CAN add fruit and vegetables to a main protein meal if you do one or a combination of the following -
      1. Finely chop, mince the fruit or veggies before adding to the meal;
      2. Steam the fruit or veggies before adding to the meal;
      3. Use thawed frozen fruit or veggies.
  1. Wash the food item to remove dirt, contaminates, and as much pesticide/herbicide as can be removed if the produce is not organic.
  2. As mentioned above do cut/chop/shred fresh vegetables into small pieces - a food processor is great for finely chopping fruits and veggies.
  3. Finely chopped or minced fruit and vegetables::
    1.  Can be properly digested. 
      1.  As explained further above a dog cannot properly digest uncut, whole fruit and vegetables .
    2. Larger pieces of vegetables and hard fruit pose a choking hazard.
      1. An example -
        1.  Zoey my 12 lb Pomeranian once got a piece of cauliflower caught in his airway - completely blocked;
        2. Zoey quickly became unconscious and if I had not known how to and did not administer the Heimlich manoeuvre and mouth to mouth resuscitation he would have died in front of my eyes.
  4. When you introduce new fruits and veggies to your dog's diet it is best to introduce each new food one at a time. If there is any kind of negative reaction, such as stomach upset or allergies you will be able to pinpoint the culprit. None of my dogs have any allergies to fruits and veggies.
People have used herbs and spices to add flavour to food and to treat ailments for thousands of years. So it should not be surprising that there are many herbs and spices that are good for our dog's health. Herbs and spices can boost the  immune system and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants to name just a few benefits. If you would like to find out more about herbs and spices you can add to your dog's diet click here. Herbs such as Turmeric and/or Curcumin can also help your dog loss weight and maintain a healthy weight.


Grains are not part of a dog's natural diet, here are some important points to note...
  • I recommend removing all grains from your dog's diet (including any pre-prepared processed products that contains grains - i.e. grain-in dry dog food or grain-in treats);
  • There are some dog's that after being on one or more dry dog foods - acquire an auto-immune response  which creates a food sensitivity to many foods that should not normally adversely effect a dog;
    • In some such cases one of the only food items the dog can still tolerate are grains such as rice.
    • If you must keep grain in your dog's diet:
      • Make sure that you only provide your dog with human quality grains.
      • If the grains are not human grade they can contain aflatoxins
      • Aflatoxins cause liver cancer. 
      • Grain that is sold for bird and livestock feed, grain that is used in most commercially manufactured dry and wet dog food is animal feed grade and is not screened for aflatoxins. Always cook the grains. 
  • Grains absorb liquid, so ingesting uncooked or grains that have not been pre-soaked can lead to swelling and bursting of the stomach…dangerous at the least, lethal at worst.
If you have to use grains in your dog's diet try using quinoa - its not actually a grain, and it is nutritionally dense. If you must use grains use organic grains such as …
  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal - steel cut
  • Pot Barley
Grains can be completely replaced by (for example) substituting a combination of sweet potato, squash etc. as demonstrated in this recipe for homemade dog food.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are very important for the overall health of a dog. However the intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 must be balanced correctly. The ratio should be in the range of 2:1 for Omega-3 to Omega-6. An out-of-balance ratio can disrupt the balance of pro and anti-inflammatory agents in the body and brain resulting in chronic inflammation and elevation of the risk of health issues such allergies, arthritis and diabetes and can adversely effect behaviour.  To read more about the importance of Omega Fatty Acids, what is a balanced intake and what are good as opposed to poor or dangerous sources of these vital nutrients you can read this article.

Removing Commercially Manufactured Kibble From Your Dog’s Diet

If you are thinking of completely removing commercially manufactured kibble from your dog’s diet you need to now a few things first. To make sure your dog gets a well balanced diet (without kibble) you need to include the following food stuffs in the right amounts:
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates (from starchy roots such as sweat potatoes or from grains)
  • Fruits and veggies…you can also include herbs
  • Fats
  • Minerals such as calcium, you may also need to add vitamins such as A, B complex and E and enzymes depending on the type of food you make.
If you would like to learn more about making your own dog food you can try these simple to make recipes for nutritious homemade dog food.  

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld