Why Feeding Fresh Veggies Can Benefit Your Dog
If you ever catch your dog eating grass, this isn’t just a helpful gesture to mow the lawn; this is nature’s calling they need more antioxidants and fiber. We know as humans, greens are an important part of our diet. Our mother’s yelling at us to “eat your greens!” at the dinner table is almost burnt into our memories by now. But what about our dogs? Is it healthy for them as well? This topic is a lot more controversial than you may think.
As dogs are technically omnivores, they can have some fresh veggies in their diets, but it is not required depending on their current eating habits as they are more recognized to be carnivores. Read more to see if your dog can benefit from some veggies in their diet.
Certain vegetables can aid in different benefits for our furry friends. According to FETCH by WebMD, “Carrots, peas, green beans, and sweet potatoes are packed with important vitamins which are good for a dog’s muscles, nerves, and kidneys. The fiber can also help dogs stay regular”. This is an important fact for those who want their dogs to live a long, fulfilling life running in the park with a big slobbery smile. Luckily, there are supplements such as, Green Juju, we can add to be confident they are receiving all the nutrients needed to have a healthy immune system. In case you are still iffy, you should know canines have had vegetables in their diets since the beginning of time. When wolves ate their prey, there would often be grains, leaves and other greens in the stomach that the wolf would innately eat. However, adding too many nutrients to an already balanced diet can harm them.
Oxygen is necessary to live, but it can also aid in the harm done to our pup’s bodies. Dogs Naturally states that due to oxidation, free radicals form in about 1 to 2% of the oxidized cells. This can also be caused from pesticides, antibiotics, or other toxins our dog comes into contact with. Free radicals fight other molecules as the oxidation has destroyed theirs. This can cause disease from the change in DNA. To combat this, antioxidants are vital. Some of the most important antioxidants for your dog are: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, polyphenols, and Beta Carotene.
- Vitamin C: helps with energy, healing wounds, gum inflammation, and joint health
- Vitamin E: boosts the immune system, helping blood vessels stay healthy
- Polyphenols: hinder further damage from diseases
- Beta Carotene: increases antibody levels in the blood
If they are not consuming enough, it can lead to health complications. Some problems that can arise are developing respiratory diseases, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, cataracts or blindness, immunodeficiencies, and skin allergies. Antioxidants should be a part of any dog's diet at any stage of their life. However, adding too much can cause more harm than good. An excess of antioxidants can be toxic, increasing the risk of health-related problems or even death. It is crucial their meals are balanced with all their nutrients to avoid giving too little or too much.
If your dog is on a kibble diet, they are already eating a balanced meal and any more fiber would harm them. If too much is consumed, it will cause inflammation, make absorbing important minerals difficult, as well as increase the chance of defecating in the house as it increases the urge to go. However, fiber is also good to help their stool pass more easily if they are constipated from a dry diet like kibble. Fresh vegetables also provide important minerals, antioxidants, and prebiotics to keep their GI system running properly. Keep in mind, they should rather be a supplement with kibble than a whole meal. Since a kibble diet can be dry and cause a clog, we recommend raw diets as they provide up to 85% moisture and provide a healthy array of nutrients. William Hoekman, Vice President of Nutrition and Communication for Green Juju tells us, “A study done in 2005 found that kibble fed dogs that got dark leafy greens 3 times a week were 90% less likely to develop cancer than ones that just ate kibble. Adding Juju won’t overdo the fiber typically in a way that would be detrimental even in higher fiber diets like kibble”. Adding vegetables is extra important for home-cooked diets as it is very difficult to provide your dog with all the correct levels of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
Raw diets are incredible for canines to absorb a plethora of biologically available nutrients. Furthermore, adding some extra greens can greatly benefit them. Dogs Naturally outlaid some information on which nutrients plants provide and how they are beneficial. They state some important nutrients (phytonutrients) are only available in plants. They aid in reducing inflammation and preventing diseases such as cancer.
The most beneficial nutrients to look out for are: fiber, carotenoids, lycopene, and flavonoids. These all work together to prevent diseases and keep their overall health up to standards.
Carotenoids are antioxidants which fight against damage from free radicals.
- Carrots, cantaloupe, squash, kale, broccoli, papaya
Lycopene is an antioxidant which can prevent or hinder cancer from growing.
- Tomatoes, watermelon, carrots
Flavonoids regulate cell signaling with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer prevention benefits.
- Plums, apples, most red and green vegetables
Fiber has two types: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble bulks up food and passes through the colon easier while soluble fiber aids as a prebiotic helping their gut health.
- Dandelion greens, collard greens, kale, cabbage
Since pumpkin contains both soluble and insoluble fibers, the perfect balance helps constipated doggos and doggos suffering from diarrhea.
* If your dog has gastrointestinal upset, please take your dog to the vet.
If you do plan on adding some veggies to your dog’s diet, make sure you serve them correctly. Dogs Naturally mentions it can be difficult for dogs to digest the cellulose, so it is helpful to slightly steam them. However, cooking them will unfortunately lose some nutritional value. With that said, you can also puree or chop them up to prevent that. They also be sure to state, “feed organic veggies if you can, to avoid harmful pesticide residues; organic produce also has been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants and is almost 50% lower in toxic heavy metals”. Furthermore, vegetables provide starch which aids as a great source of energy and acts as a glue lining the stomach to calm it if upset. Be wary as too much starch can disrupt the natural flora (healthy bacteria) and result in yeast-related problems including skin yeast infections, tear stains, the forbidden Dorito-scented feet, itchiness, and other complications. Fortunately, a vegetable supplement for dogs, Green Juju’s Just Greens contains all organic veggies with low glycemic produce for your convenience and was originally made to help dogs with yeast-related issues and target joint, skin, digestive, and immune system health.
Who could turn down a home-cooked meal? While delicious, it can be lacking important nutrients for your dog. Although cooked with love, home-cooked meals may not be a balanced diet and it is very difficult to measure out the values of their nutritional intake. Oftentimes, these meals have a lack of iron, copper, calcium, and zinc. To be sure they are getting the right amount of all their nutrients it is highly recommended to add supplements to their meals. We recommend adding Green Juju’s Bailey’s Blend to cover any missing areas. This blend contains organic turkey for a different protein source as well as more organic vegetables to target a wider range of issues with all the same benefits of their Just Greens Blend. These both help to reduce inflammation, increase antioxidant intake, detoxify, and support their overall gut health. Their diet should still be monitored and consider even taking them for an animal biome test. An animal biome test calculates all of the nutrients they are consuming and digesting through a sample of stool. It can help acknowledge problem areas and how to balance their diet more efficiently.
Much like home-cooked meals, strictly-meat diets must contain supplements to provide all necessary nutrients; some of which can only be provided by plants. The rich source of fiber in vegetables helps to thicken their stool. Green Juju’s supplements are perfect for adding a healthy amount of prebiotics, antioxidants, fiber, and minerals missing from your dog’s dietary needs boosting their immune system. The moisture also helps soften the stool of dogs on a kibble or freeze-dried diet. It can be added to kibble, raw, dehydrated, or home-cooked meals if they are not receiving their proper daily fiber and other minerals intake. This particular supplement contains all organic vegetables as well as bison bone broth to satisfy the meat lovers too without bombarding them with an unfamiliar earthy taste. According to the Green Juju founder, Kelly Marian, the bone broth also repairs a leaky gut. She explains a leaky gut is inflammation that causes holes in the gut lining allowing particles of food into the blood stream. The body attacks them as a free radical which can lead to sensitivity and allergies. Fortunately, the bone broth seals the lining preventing this. It breaks down the cell walls which dogs cannot do naturally in order to release all the nutrients to them without losing any of its value. This particular supplement was originally made to combat yeast-related problems and this can help. Cooking vegetables yourself would do this with the sacrifice of some loss in nutritional value. Green Juju’s Just Greens contains 1.9% of fiber and 91.8% moisture while Green Juju’s Bailey’s Blend contains 0.78% of fiber and 91.3% of moisture to aid in their digestion.
With that said, it may be a good idea to add veggies in your dog's diet if they are overweight, older, or a growing puppy; but, caution should be recognized as to not overcompensate and potentially cause harm!
Visit your local Well Bred today and contact us about all your nutritional questions. We are so excited to help you find your dog an enjoyable healthy, balanced diet!