We often hear this question from caring pawrents, “But do dogs really need fruit and veggies?” And our answer is a simple: YES
We did some research and checked in with Dr. Ian Billinghurst, known as the creator of the BARF diet, an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
Dr. Billinghurst suggests that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated: Raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps.
Here is Ian’s take on WHY dogs need to eat their greens:
Evolution – Dogs eat veggies by nature
Our fur-friends are not obligate or pure carnivores like cats and for sure they are not herbivores like cows and goats.
Yet, while dogs are carnivores, their diet is much more varied than that of a cat.
In fact, dogs, who evolved from wolves have eaten vegetables and fruit for thousands of years.
You may wonder how, but the most common way to fill up on greens is to eat the gut contents of their prey. And they are also known to scavenge fruit, berries and grass and herbs.
Veggies and fruit help to alkalise
Balancing the alkalinity and acidity is important for our dog’s health. (and ours too)
Organs like the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, heart and kidneys function better in a more alkaline environment. Too much acidity contributes to inflammation which is responsible for a lot of chronic diseases.
Proteins, like from meat are more acidifying, which can contribute to inflammation, while many vegetables and fruits have an alkalinising effect on the body.
Rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals
Vegetables and fruit can provide proteins, lipids, fats, carbohydrates, phytonutrients and fiber, which makes them a complete food.
They are also a great and important source of vitamins and minerals
You may wonder what are phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are one of the most important nutrients we can give to our dogs and are only found in plants.
These powerful little nutrients can kill cancer cells, reduce inflammation, promote gut health and support a healthy liver.
The foods richest in phytonutrients are berries, apples – especially with the skin, broccoli and kale.
Dogs eating just kibble or a raw meat diet will miss out on these benefits completely.
Fruit and veggies are an excellent source of water.
Did you know that many dogs living on a pure kibble diet are in a chronic state of dehydration?
Raw veggies and fruit supply plenty of fiber.
Fiber passes through our dog’s intestines mostly undigested and once it reaches the colon, it is fermented by the bacteria living there, which turn it into healthy short chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
SCFAs are used for energy, to build immune cells and protect the mucus lining in the gut.
Fiber is also known to bind to cancer-causing substances (studies show that increased consumption of fiber is linked to reduced cancer risk), to feed friendly bacteria and promote gut health and to clear toxins from the body.
Vegetables, fruits and herbs are loaded with antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect against free radicals which build up like rust in the body and damage the cells and organs.
Fruit, veggies and herbs are the only source of antioxidants.
Your dog’s diet should be about 10% fruits and vegetables and can be added to your dog’s meals daily.
And if your dog is stressed or sick, vegetation can be even as high as 50%.
But you’ll need to crush or pulverize them in a juicer or blender, or your dog won’t be able to digest them.