Although dogs do not require vegetables, seeds and nuts, and fruits for essential nutrients, adding plant ingredients to raw diets proves beneficial. Since dogs lack the jaw structure to grind plant matter and the salivary enzymes to begin carbohydrate digestion in the mouth, all produce ingredients must be prepared 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. Vegetables should be pureed, fermented, or lightly steamed for optimal nutrient absorption. There are many options of low glycemic and starchy vegetables to choose from to feed dogs.
A vegetable puree is an easy way to prepare all low glycemic, leafy greens into a single mixture to portion into meals. The blend can then be stored in containers for scoop and feed, or the blend can be portioned into frozen serving sizes.
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 for dogs to get the benefit of the nutrients and glucose for energy. Multiple methods can be used to cook starchy vegetables. Baking, boiling, and steaming are three methods to cook starchy vegetables. The method selected does not matter as long as the vegetable is thoroughly cooked prior to feeding.
Enjoy two free, cooked vegetable recipes for dogs! These recipes use starchy vegetables and are prepared to optimize digestion and nutrient absorption.
Fermented foods are ways to provide naturally occurring probiotics through fresh foods versus store purchased supplements. Fermented veggies 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 to support healthy gut flora, but the act of fermenting makes the nutrients within the plant material more bioavailable to these carnivores.
Clean & Process Vegetables
Thoroughly rinse, chop, and separate all of the vegetables.
Salt Massage the Vegetables
Massage the vegetables with salt and allow the vegetables to sit for 5 minutes to produce its own brine. Use 5 grams of Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt (the salt is necessary and cannot be eliminated) per pound of cleaned vegetables.
Place Vegetables in Jars
Smash the veggies in a glass jar. Be sure to keep the vegetables packed in the jar as best as possible. Be sure to leave at least a 4-inch headspace.
If the salted vegetables did not make enough brine, mix a separate brine. The brine will need to be 2% brine using Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt. To create a 2% brine, use 19 grams or 1 tablespoon of salt. Pour the brine in the jar on top of the smashed veggies until it completely covers them by 1-inch. There should be at least a 1-inch headspace to allow for overflow.
Add a weight to keep contents submerged. An easy option is to use a rock, sterilize it, and wrap it in plastic wrapping. Place in the jar on top of the veggies to keep them submerged. *Everything must stay below the brine to prevent mold growth.
Cover jar and place on the countertop. Burp the jar twice a day and wait for at least 2 to 3 weeks before moving to the fridge and feeding.
Fermenting vegetables requires patience and some homework to understand the process. Below are some additional notes about creating vegetable ferments for dogs.
When selecting ingredients for a dog safe ferment, cabbage must be included in the mixture. Leafy greens are very low in available carbohydrates, which makes them suitable for dog consumption. However, they do not provide enough carbs to support the fermenting process. This is where cabbage is necessary – out of all the greens, cabbage provides just the right amount of carbs to support the fermenting process without being too high in carbs.
If there is any white, green, blue, black, or grey fuzz growth – it is mold! There, it is necessary to throw the entire batch away. This cannot be salvaged once the mold is present in the ferment.
Kahm Yeast is a fungus that can grow on top of ferments, which is completely harmless. It is white and looks like a wrinkled white bed sheet. This happens when too much oxygen is circulating in the ferment.
Fermented Vegetable Smell
Do not be alarmed by how the veggies smell when burping the jar. They release gas, which smells a lot like farts. This is normal.
When feeding ferments to dogs, start slow with a small portion and gradually increase.
Fermentation has been around for many years and it is a natural way to preserve vegetables as well as “pre-digest” the plant ingredients for dog diets. Below are additional resources to learn more about fermentation.
Probiotic Count in Fermented Kraut
Fermentation Facebook Group
**It is important to know this group does not have resources on how to create ferments safe for pet consumption. Use this group to learn about how to ferment, the techniques, what to look for, and ingredients. When creating a ferment for pets, use a 2 to 2.5% brine and pet safe ingredients.**
"ALWAYS PREPARE VEGGIES FOR OPTIMAL DIGESTION."
Ronny LeJeune, CertCN, CPDT-KA, CCC
Processing vegetables for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption ensures the most benefit is being received from the ingredients. Without proper preparation, veggies bypass enzymatic digestion and the nutrients are not absorbed in this process.
The general rule of thumb is 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!