Although dogs do not require vegetables, seeds and nuts, and fruits for essential nutrients, adding plant ingredients to a raw diet does prove beneficial. Dogs lack the jaw structure to grind plant matter and the salivary enzymes to begin carbohydrate digestion in the mouth. Therefore, all produce ingredients must be prepared properly for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
When feeding vegetables it is important to prepare the items properly in order for the dog to digest and absorb the nutrients. Leafy, fibrous vegetables should be pureed, fermented, or lightly steamed for optimal nutrient absorption. Starchy vegetables must be fully cooked. There are many low glycemic and starchy vegetable options to choose from.
A vegetable puree is an easy way to prepare low glycemic, leafy greens for dogs. The blend can then be stored in containers for scoop and feed, or it can be portioned into frozen serving sizes or meal containers.
Low Glycemic Vegetables
Silicone molds or ice cube trays are excellent methods for frozen cubes which provide an easy prep option. Many raw feeders use silicone paw print or bone molds.
Steam, Bake, or Boil
Starchy vegetables must be fully cooked before feeding in order for dogs absorb the nutrients and glucose for energy. Various methods can be used to cook starchy vegetables. Baking, boiling, or steaming are three options for cooking starchy vegetables. The method selected does not matter as long as the vegetable is thoroughly cooked prior to feeding.
Fermented foods are a way to provide naturally occurring probiotics through fresh food versus commercial supplements. Fermented vegetables provide soil-based probiotics and digestive enzymes jam-packed into the “predigested” plant material.
Create a Dog Safe Ferment
Dogs not only benefit from beneficial bacteria that support healthy gut flora, but the act of fermenting makes the nutrients within the plant material more bioavailable to these carnivores.
Fermenting vegetables requires patience and some homework to understand the process. Below are some additional notes about creating vegetable ferments for dogs.
Fermentation has been around for many years and is a natural way to preserve vegetables as well as “pre-digest” the plant ingredients for dogs. Below are additional resources to learn more about fermentation.
Processing vegetables for optimal digestion ensures that the most benefit is being received from the ingredients. Without proper preparation, vegetables will bypass enzymatic digestion and the nutrients will not be absorbed in this process.
The general rule of thumb is that low glycemic, non-starchy vegetables can be pureed raw, without any additional cooking. However, all starchy vegetables should be thoroughly cooked prior to feeding. Lastly, fermenting vegetables is a further step which provides beneficial probiotics!