Plant Matter

This topic relates to food of plant origin such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs & oils.

Before we get into what types of plant matter you can feed your dog, we first need to look at the history of our dogs ancestors, modern science and some good old common sense.

We are going to be discussing carbohydrates (carbs) in this section, if you're not familiar with carbs, in  plants, carbohydrates make up part of the cellulose (cell wall), giving plants their strength and structure so when we talk about carbs, we're talking about all plants. We will also mention starch and starch is a carbohydrate.

The dogs digestive system prior to domestication was only made to consume small amounts of plant matter and this is why they do not have great amounts of a digestive enzyme called Amylase which breaks down carbohydrates. Humans on the other hand produce heaps of Amylase because we eat a lot of plant matter as Mother Nature intended. 

Interestingly enough, a study found that some breeds have greater capabilities of breaking down starch than others and this is down to how many copies of the AMY2B gene they have. At the time dogs were being domesticated, some human communities were consuming starch rich diets and because they were feeding these diets to the dogs as well, the dogs had to evolve in order to survive on these non-natural diets - so whilst some breeds have adapted to their early environments by creating and passing on copies of the AMY2B gene, this has never meant that a dog should change from their ancestral diet to a commercial kibble diet or high starch fresh food diet.

Some kibble advocates will attempt to use this study to "prove" why kibble, which is high in starch (carbohydrates) is an appropriate diet for a dog - this is not a good interpretation of the study, the study clearly outlines a handful of breeds who have better capabilities at digesting starch, it also does not scientifically validate that high carbohydrates diets are healthy, safe or appropriate for dogs.  So, if someone is using this study to prove why kibble is ok, then you know they do not understand the study and/or are trying to cherry pick information, just like a Vegan dog food company who tries to use this study to back up why it's ok to feed a dog plant based diet.



 

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There are some pockets in the raw feeding community that do not believe dogs should eat plant matter at all because they do not believe that Wolves ate plants. Our dogs ancestors consumed plant matter, there are no ifs or butts about that and it is a very important part of their diet, it provides the super important gut loving fibre to feed good bacteria in their digestive system, anti-oxidants, phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals, the list really does go on and on.
 

Spinach

These days, we have access to a lot of super healthy plant matter that we can include in our dogs diet in appropriate amounts. Whilst some pet parents actively try and mimic a Wolves diet, we have access to so many plants that Wolves didn't have access to but that doesn't mean they aren't appropriate and health giving.  We feed a dog a fresh food diet, not because we're trying to mimic a wolves diet (which is impossible) but because we know fresh whole foods is what their bodies were made to run best on vs highly processed commercial foods.

Some people believe that Wolves obtained plant matter not from their environment but in the stomachs of their prey, whilst this is party true for small prey animals such as rabbits, it is not true for larger animals. Wolves as a broad generalisation do not actively seek out the stomach contents of their prey, you can learn more about that here

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The dogs gut bacteria also assists in breaking down complex carbohydrates i.e. plant matter.

Our dogs ancestors are thought to have pretty awesome gut health because they were eating raw food, consuming good bacteria and digestive enzymes from their food, however today's modern dog by large has very poor gut health due to environmental toxins, poor diets, stress and the likes - when we couple this with their lack of the digestive enzyme to break down carbohydrates we can see that we need to step in to help them breakdown carbohydrates in a more effective manner.

In order to make plant matter more bio-available, we need to process it in one or more of the following ways:
 

  • Ferment

  • Freeze & then defrost

  • Cook - whether than  be boil, steam, bake etc.

  • Finely chop

  • Grate

  • Blend

  • Smoosh i.e. blueberries & overnight soaked nuts
     

Whilst freezing and then defrosting does break down cell walls to some extend, we would recommend that you pair this with another method for higher bio-availability.

For dogs with sensitive/not very functional digestive systems, cooking and then blending will be the best option for the greatest bio-availability.

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Contrary to popular belief, cooking does not deplete plant matter of all nutrients, cooking simply changes the nutritional profile, some nutrients will increase and some will deplete to some level. Different modes of cooking brings about different results - you may like to rotate through different methods for a well rounded approach.

Some plants are better off cooked and this might be because they are high in starch such as Sweet Potato and Pumpkin or they may be high in Oxalates like Spinach.  Mushrooms have super tough cell walls as well as harmful pathogens that are all sorted out by cooking.

The problem with Oxalates (oxalic acid) is that it binds with calcium and other minerals like magnesium and iron in order to be excreted from the body, this means that a diet high in oxalates could be depleting your dogs body of nutrients.

Most canine diets have below 25% plant matter and in feeding programs like the one we promote  at our fresh food feeding group, we recommend people rotate through plant options so they're not overdoing any one thing such as oxalates.

You can also add calcium rich foods in the meal when you're feeding oxalates to help the process and this can include foods like yoghurt, kefir, raw goats milk and the likes.

Here is a list of plants that you'll want to consider cooking vs giving raw for the above mentioned reasons:

𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗵

  • Beans

  • Squash/Pumpkin

  • Chickpeas (will also need to be blended)

  • Corn (will also need to be blended)

  • Lentils

  • Parsnip

  • Peas

  • Potato/Sweet Potato

  • Taro

  • Yams


𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝗢𝘅𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀

  • Beans

  • Beetroot

  • Spinach

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Swiss Chard / Silverbeet

  • Kale - although not as high in oxalates as people think

These days, we have access to a lot of super healthy plant matter that we can include in our dogs diet in appropriate amounts. Whilst some pet parents actively try and mimic a Wolves diet, we have access to so many plants that Wolves didn't have access to but that doesn't mean they aren't appropriate and health giving.  We feed a dog a fresh food diet, not because we're trying to mimic a wolves diet (which is impossible) but because we know fresh whole foods is what their bodies were made to run best on vs highly processed commercial foods.

Some people believe that Wolves obtained plant matter not from their environment but in the stomachs of their prey, whilst this is party true for small prey animals such as rabbits, it is not true for larger animals. Wolves as a broad generalisation do not actively seek out the stomach contents of their prey, you can learn more about that here

Our dogs ancestors are thought to have pretty awesome gut health because they were eating raw food, consuming good bacteria and digestive enzymes from their food, however today's modern dog by large has very poor gut health due to environmental toxins, poor diets, stress and the likes - when we couple this with their lack of the digestive enzyme to break down carbohydrates we can see that we need to step in to help them breakdown carbohydrates in a more effective manner.

In order to make plant matter more bio-available, we need to process it in one or more of the following ways:

  • Ferment

  • Freeze & then defrost

  • Cook whether than  be boil, steam, bake etc.

  • Finely chop

  • Grate

  • Blend
     

Whilst freezing and then defrosting does break down cell walls, I would recommend you pair this with another method for better bio-availability.

For dogs with sensitive / not very functional digestive systems, cooking and then blending will be the best option for the greatest bio-availability.

Contrary to popular belief, cooking does not deplete plant matter of all nutrients, cooking simply changes the nutritional profile, making some nutrients reduce and making some increase.  Different modes of cooking brings about different results - you may like to rotate through different methods for a well rounded approach.

🔥 Some plants are better off cooked and this might be because they are high in starch such as Sweet Potato and Pumpkin or they may be high in Oxalates such as Spinach OR Mushrooms who have super tough cell walls as well as harmful pathogens that are all sorted out by cooking.
The problem with Oxalates (oxalic acid) is that it binds with calcium and other minerals like magnesium and iron in order to be excreted from the body, this means that a diet high in oxalates could be depleting your dogs body of nutrients and in more prone creatures can lead to kidney stones especially in beings with higher salt contents in their diets.  
Most canine diets have below 25% plant matter and in feeding programs like the one we promote here we recommend people rotate through plant options so they're not overdoing any one thing and loading up on things like oxalates.
You can also add calcium rich foods in the meal when you're feeding oxalates to help the process and this can include foods like yoghurt, kefir, raw goats milk and the likes.
Here's a list of plants that you'll want to consider cooking vs giving raw for the above mentioned reasons:
𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗵
👉 Beans
👉 Squash / Pumpkin
👉 Chickpeas
👉 Corn (will also need to be blended)
👉 Lentils
👉 Parsnip
👉 Peas
👉 Potato / Sweet Potato
👉 Taro
👉 Yams
𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝗢𝘅𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀
👉 Beans
👉 Beetroot
👉 Spinach
👉 Sweet Potatoes
👉 Swiss Chard / Silverbeet
👉 Kale - although not as high in oxalates as people think

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The internet is full of mis-information - shock horror right?! Sadly even Vets have fallen for lists of foods you cannot feed even though they have been disproven such as store brought mushrooms, avocados and garlic.

 

Plants to avoid feeding include:

  • Onions

  • Spring Onions

  • Chives

  • Leeks

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Walnuts (grey area)

  • Grapes & Raisins

  • Stones from fruits

  • Cocoa
     

So when you next ask "can my dog eat this vegetable?", the answer is most likely Yes as the list of what you cannot feed a dog is very small. If in doubt, ask in our Fresh Food Feeding Group.

Plant matter you may like to add to your dogs diet
If a plant isn't on this list, that doesn't mean it's unsafe, it simply means that there are literally thousands of edible plants out there, so we're going to focus on the most common in canine diets.
 

  • Almonds (Ground or overnight soaked then smooshed)

  • Apples

  • Asian Greens

  • Asparagus

  • Avocado (Flesh)

  • Beans - All varieties (Cooked)

  • Beetroot/Beets

  • Bell Peppers/Capsicum

  • Banana

  • Berries - Berries with hard outter shells like Blueberries need to be smooshed

  • Bitter Melon

  • Blackberry

  • Blueberry

  • Bok Choy

  • Brazil Nuts (Ground or overnight soaked then smooshed)

  • Broccoli

  • Broccolini

  • Brussel Sprouts

  • Cabbage - all varieties

  • Carrots - All varities

  • Cashews (Ground or overnight soaked then smooshed)

  • Cauliflower

  • Chokos

  • Celery

  • Chia Seeds (Soaked or ground)

  • Collard Greens

  • Coconut + water & oil

  • Corn (Cooked & blended) - largely seen as an inappropriate food for dogs

  • Cranberry

  • Cucumber

  • Dandelion Greens

  • Dark Green Leafy Veg

  • Eggplant

  • Endive

  • Fennel

  • Fenugreek (ground)

  • Flaxseeds/Linseeds (Ground, do not soak) & oil

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Green Leafy Veg

  • Hazelnuts (Ground or overnight soaked then smooshed)

  • Hemp Seeds (hulled) & oil

  • Kale  (cooked)

  • Kelp (User to research amount or buy a dog product with dosage)

  • Kiwi Fruit

  • Lentils (Cooked)

  • Lettuce - all varieties 

  • Mangoes

  • Melon

  • Mushrooms, store brought (cooked)

  • Nectarines (minus the stone)

  • Oats (Well cooked/soaked)

  • Okra (Cooked)

  • Olives

  • Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)

  • Parsley

  • Parsnip (Cooked)

  • Pears

  • Peas (Cooked)

  • Pecans (Ground or overnight soaked then smooshed)

  • Pineapple

  • Pine Nuts (Ground or overnight soaked then smooshed)

  • Plums (without the stone)

  • Pumpkin

  • Pumpkin Seeds (Ground or fermented)

  • Psyllium husks

  • Quinoa (Cooked)

  • Radish

  • Raspberry

  • Rice, cooked & then chilled to turn into resistant starch - Not recommend as a regular inclusion in dog diets

  • Salad Greens

  • Sauerkraut

  • Seaweed (User to research amount or buy a dog product with dosage)

  • Spirulina

  • Sesame Seed/Paste (Tahini)

  • Spinach (Cooked)

  • Squash (Cooked)

  • Strawberries

  • Sunflower Seeds (Ground)

  • Sweet Potato (Cooked)

  • Swiss Chard/Silverbeet (Cooked)

  • Taro (Cooked)

  • Tomatoes

  • Turmeric

  • Watercress

  • Watermelon

  • Wheat Germ & oil

  • Yams (Cooked)

  • Zucchini