The Eternal Question: Fruits and Vegetables; do our dogs need them?
Most people cringe when they see a dog chew on grass. Some say he's eating it because he's unhealthy. Others say that he's eating it because he needs it. But seriously, Do dogs really need fruits and vegetables in their diets?
A Prey Model user will tell you that a dog, being a meat eater or carnivore does not even need to eat plants and vegetables.
But someone feeding a BARF diet will say that they do. I personally believe that fruits and vegetables must be included in a dog’s daily diet and is good for her.
It's important to not close our mind to any perspective. You have a choice to test both models and options and finally do what’s best for your dog. Let’s look at both sides:
What do fruits contain?
Different fruits contain different nutrients such as multiple Vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, C, E & Vitamin K). They also contain potassium and calcium, copper and zinc. Fruits are also quite high in carbohydrate content.
What about Vegetables?
Well, they don't contain cholesterol; that’s for sure. But the additional stuff like sauce or seasoning that we add, will contribute to calories. Veggies are very important sources of potassium, folic acid and Vitamins A, C and E. Vegetables are low in calories and high in carbs which are the primary source of energy for our body.
Found anything in common?
Yes, both have carbohydrates
which have a high starch content.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbs are also known as saccharides. They are sugar or starch and are a major source of energy. Bread, pasta, potatoes and rice are all high in carbs.
Therefore, dog owners will naturally question themselves as to whether dogs need fruits and vegetables included in their diet?
Some people say that obesity is related to a high consumption of carbohydrates. But remember that it's also linked to a lack of exercise and the consumption of unhealthy and artificially enhanced foods.
Let’s look at this angle:
If your dog is already eating Red meat which is high in iron, fats which are healthy for the heart via fish, calcium rich food and protein high meat such as poultry, your dog is already getting what he needs and therefore does not need additional
However, would it be harmful if they were given additional carb supplements in the form of veggies?
Well some believe they could be healthy, yes.
But raw diets stem from the diet of a wolf, remember?
Wolves being carnivores eat other animals. Their diet consists of meat, bones, organs, offal, fat, tissue and even skin and fur.
So, PREY users will tell you that dogs should not be fed anything other than their original, meaty diet. They will tell you that dogs don't need any additional supplements, fruits and veggies, milk or anything that a wolf would not eat in it's original surroundings. But some wolf sub-species will also eat fruits and grass and even vegetables and in the wild, they have been spotted eating even berries.
BARF diet users on the other hand don't see any harm in being flexible and not being rigid in what they feed their dogs. They are open to feeding their pets with herbs, veggies, and fruits.
PREY feeders will say that when a wolf kills an animal, he ignores the vegetation in the stomach of that animal.
BARF feeders will say just the opposite. And they will tell you that if the wolf ignores the vegetation in the stomach of his prey, he will consume it in his natural surroundings.
So does that mean that dogs are omnivores? Well just because he eats some plant matter doesn't take him away from the fact that he is 100% carnivorous.
You will see animals like deer who are 100% herbivores, eat meat; you will see your cat eat grass sometimes at home and doesn't your dog love pizza too? But that doesn't change who they are.
All points have some importance. There is evidence to show that some wolves eat plants and some don't. Why they do that no one knows for sure!
It could be that there is not sufficient prey where they live, it could be that, like I said in the beginning, they eat plants to make them feel better or they eat plants when they instinctively know that their body needs vegetables.
But if they're eating plants to make them 'feel better' does that mean they can digest plants?
Besides a healthy lifestyle like exercise, it's important to remember that a fully functional digestive system is very important to the well-being of your dog. It's a multi-functional system : ingest food, absorb essential nutrients, maintains a balance of all matter and then get rid of waste. It starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. So it covers the entire body of the dog.
Dogs have a small intestine and a short gastrointestinal tract. Food movement of a dog through its intestines is faster than ours. It takes about 20 hours for humans and approximately 7-8 hours for dogs. So you might wonder that if the speed is so high, are their bodies absorbing all the essential ingredients from plants.
So you will see BARF feeders mash fruits and veggies before feeding them to their dogs. It aids in digestion. Besides, plants provide all the essentials like vitamins, minerals and other things which are not found in meat.
PREY users find this weird. They argue and say it's not natural to do that. Also, they will tell you that dogs do not have sufficient amounts of enzymes that are required to manage the successful pre-digestion of carbohydrates and starch before they are ingested. This enzyme is called Amylase.
BARF feeders will tell you that dogs have more of these enzymes than even wolves, and they produce it after ingestion.
If your dog is vomiting, displays a loss of appetite and shows signs of stomach pain, he might be suffering from inflammation of the pancreas which is the organ located in the cavity behind the stomach. It aids in digestion and produces insulin and other critical hormones.
The pancreas secretes pancreatic juice and other digestive enzymes which assist in the absorption of nutrients within the small intestine. So you can see how critical it is for your dog!
PREY supporters claim that the pancreas are strained with the consumption of fruits and vegetables and this might lead to pancreatitis
But BARF supporters say that this is just an assumption. In that case they say, wouldn't we have many sick dogs on our hands dropping like flies!?
We've always maintained that dogs have different constitutions just like humans. You as a dog owner are considered to be the right judge in determining what suits your pet.
The truth about farm food and poor soil contributing to poor meat:
We at BARF India grow our own poultry which are raised in free-range farms, never kept in cages, never fed antibiotics or growth hormones. The goats that we bred are raised in our own farms having large pasture tracts for them to graze.
Increased chemicals in the soil have killed the original, natural nutrients that used to be originally present in them. I personally am of the opinion that the grass-fed animals do not consume and pass on the same nutrients as in the past due to the high use of chemicals in the soil.
Healthier options like BARF are available which make up for possible missing ingredients which are supplemented with the use of fruits and vegetables.
All factors that we've discussed or rather highlighted above narrow down to one important point: Your dogs diet is the most important thing which contributes to his health.
It's important that his intestines are healthy. That's where the healthy bacteria come into play. Your dog’s body is made up of colonies of bacteria, inside and outside and especially in his digestive system.
These colonies or communities as we may call them are called 'The Microbiome’. Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, isn't it?!
But these organisms help our pets in so many ways. They:
- Keep Viruses away.
- Create a wall against drugs and toxins and all substances which cause cancer.
- The 'good' bacteria help our dogs digest food
- They also produce vitamins for your dog. Surprisingly Vitamin B12 is made by this bacteria and it aids in your dog’s immune health.
These soldiers are critical in terms of protecting your dog. If the good bacteria depletes, the bad bacteria will take over.
Keep The Microbiome away from:
- Foods containing a lot of sugar
- Low quality meat
- Convenience foods or processed foods that contain a large amount of sodium, fat and of course sugar which is harmful for your pet.
The Microbiome will do well with:
- Fruits, & Veggies, and,
- RAW Meat.
Quite a few dog owners, however like to add a maximum of 10% fruits and vegetables in their pet's diet for a multitude of reasons; variety being one of them. And its not harmful in the least as normally claimed.
People ask me which diet I prefer for my dog.
Let’s just say that I am not in favour of or against any one diet. What's important is that my dogs are healthy.
How do you determine what's best for your dog?
- Try both diets.
- Use actual facts to make a choice.
- Review your dog’s diet often.
- Choose reliable sources.
I'm curious to know which diet you guys prefer and why. Still have questions about these two models of RAW Feeding? If so, contact us directly or comment with your thoughts below!