Why Dogs Need Plants In Their Diet

Why Dogs Need Plants In Their Diet

Let’s talk about Plant Matter, what you call fruits and vegetables.

(Companion video here.)

If you’re a raw feeder you’ve seen lots of information on the internet about how to feed ‘the right way’. There are many correct ways to feed your dog. At Fetching Foods we follow the nutrigenomics approach, which we feel is the best way, not the only way to feed your dog.

Some raw feeders are vehemently opposed to serving any plant matter, and others liberally use fruits and veggies, up to and including serving vegan meals. Then there are people who fall somewhere between those two extremes.

Dogs don’t require plants to live. The right balance of meat, bone, and organ are all that’s required for minimum nutrition.

Plants contain lots of functional nutrients, packed with health promoting vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that promote health at the cellular level that meat just doesn’t have.

If you want optimal health, not just functional health, want to promote healthy gene expression, manage environmental influences, and not have a dog plagued with chronic illnesses, plants are needed in their diets.

Even Dr. Billinghurst highly recommends giving vegetables and fruits to your dog. Who’s he? He’s famous for creating the worst acronym and the concept of BARF (Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). He published his third book called The BARF Diet in 2001.

Dogs fall on the carnivore end of the herbivore-carnivore continuum. But they can eat plant matter too. The idea that it’s an exclusive requirement, animal or plant, is a false understanding of what dogs can effectively consume for nourishment.  There are several ways we know this.  One is dog drool, produced as your dog anticipates eating, contains the enzyme amylase.  Amylase begins the digestive process by breaking down starches, converting it into maltose, a smaller carbohydrate.  Cats, obligate carnivores on the end of the spectrum opposite of herbivores, don’t produce amylase.

As a raw feeder, look at what the nutritional requirement is needed to reach optimum health for your dog, finding the best ratio of animal-based ingredients to plants.

Phytonutrients are exclusive to plants. They are antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antihelminthic, anti-aging, anti-degeneration and, most importantly, anti-cancer.

Plants are chock-full of antioxidants too. Antioxidants, protect against free radicals, and are only found in fruits and vegetables.  Free radicals can trigger cancer growth and development among other things.

Then there is microbiome, the core of your dog’s immune system.  The flora, or bacteria, do all kinds of magic for the body, from producing B vitamins, helping digest, and fighting off invading bacteria and diseases.  But those gut bacteria need to be fed.  They dine on soluble fiber like what’s in dandelion greens, which are used in our Only Dog products.  What you feed the bacteria to manage a healthy microbiome is called a prebiotic.  Prebiotics help grow, restore and maintain healthy gut flora which support your pet’s immune system.

Beyond the nutrients in plants, fruits and veggies are an excellent source of water. Many dogs live in a chronic state of dehydration because they’re fed dry food, kibble, which contributes to problems such as kidney disease or up to and including formation of bladder stones.

And in small quantities, with a properly prepared and balanced raw diet, cats can benefit from plant matter too! But that’s another video.

Plants are a critical part of a robust diet. Make sure you add the correct ones for your specific pet’s needs, like we do here at Fetching Foods.

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