There is a great deal of misconception around the natural diet of dogs. Contrary to popular thought, and to the notion that we should feed dogs an all-meat diet, they are not in fact strict carnivores. In the wild, animal protein is not always available, and in its absence, wolves will eat plant leaves, roots, berries and seeds to carry them through. The same is true – and nutritionally beneficial – for your domestic dog. (Anyone who has seen a dog go crazy for baby carrots can attest to this: they are definitely not averse to plant foods!)
Dogs are also highly attuned to their body’s balance. (Ever notice how they’ll stop eating when no longer hungry?) They are acutely aware of the pH balance of their system and will seek out alkalizing foods to correct an overly acidic situation. This is why they pups will often seek out grass or other household plants. A steady stream of plants into their regular diet helps keep things in whack, preventing extremes of acid build-up.
With that in mind, here are some delicious plant-based foods that are great for you and great for your dog. Whip up a batch of any of these nutrient-packed, veggie-based meals and snacks: they’re going to beg for some anyways, so isn’t nice to know you’re sharing something truly healthful?
Flax Meal and Coconut Oil
The omegas found in both flax meal and coconut oil help promote joint, eye and nerve health, healthy skin and brain function. Coconut oil has also been shown to prevent tooth decay – in both dogs and people – so work it in to keep all of your pearly whites sparkly. While you may amp up your smoothies with flax or use coconut oil in your baking, it can be added directly to your pup’s food.
Sweet Potatoes, Squash and Carrots
Just like people, dogs require sufficient Vitamin A for robust immunity, eye health and skin health. Sweet potatoes, squash and carrots provide ample daily doses of this, and they promote great digestion thanks to their high fiber content. Whip up a batch of Sweet Potato Pancakes or Roasted Butternut Squash in Yellow Coconut Curry Sauce to share – just reduce the spices and skip ingredients like salt and added oil. Feel like some hummus and crudités? Perfect! Skip the garlic and cayenne in this recipe and serve with raw carrots – your dog will be stoked.
Dogs go crazy for this stuff, and for good reason! It’s packed with essential B Vitamins, like B6, which is important for cellular growth and regeneration, immune strength and nerve health. Delicious and good for you: peanut butter is basically nature’s perfect food (and the perfect treat to fit into a chew toy, if your dog is so inclined). For the pup – and the person – who isn’t into licking things out of a container, make your pet some homemade peanut butter and skip those laden with sugar, oils, and remember no chocolate peanut butter cups! Try these homemade raw peanut butter cookies that you and your dog will love instead!
The only thing better than peanut butter is almond butter, and if you’re anything like me, this stuff feels super addictive. The healthy fats are calming to the body, assuring our cells that a famine is not underway. Dogs and people both need Vitamin E for eye and skin health. Use almond butter with bananas, oats, or drizzle on some sweet potatoes.
Veggies and leafy greens are packed with Vitamin K. This vitamin is key for blood health. It’s present in leafy green veggies, which also help the body alkaline. Spinach, alfalfa, broccoli and kale are great sources, as are roasted cruciferous veggies. Dinner and treats in one!
Just like people, dogs need sufficient fiber to help their digestive tract run smoothly. The best way to get that is from complex, natural foods. Think potatoes, whole grains (so long as your dog tolerates grains), and all types of vegetables, both non-starchy and starchy. Good options dogs especially love are sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peas, lentils, bananas, oats, rice, and most any green vegetable. These foods are great for you and your dog and will both keep your heart and entire bodies healthy!
Keep in mind you don’t need to season your dog’s food with spices. These can upset their stomach or be potentially toxic. While some herbs may be okay, generally, most bland, plain foods are best. They’ll still love them! Also be sure to avoid toxic food to pets however possible, such as avocados, raisins, onions and garlic, chocolate, and many others. And don’t forget that if you’re feeding your pet plant-based foods, to make sure they get enough vital nutrients into their diet however possible.
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