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Should you feed your pets (dogs and cats) fruits and vegetables?

Posted by Pet Pantry on

Yes, but you need to know which fruits and vegetables are beneficial and which ones are not safe. You also need to know the right quantity to feed your pet. But first, let’s consider the physiology of dogs and cats. Both dogs and cats have single hinged jaws and sharp incisors – teeth designed for ripping and tearing. They do not have molars for grinding and they cannot move their jaws from side to side as a cow does when it chews.

What does this mean? It means that they need their fruits and veggies pre-digested. Wild canines and felines get their vitamins by eating the stomachs of the prey that they have killed. In the stomachs are the grasses, plants, seeds and fruit that the animals have been eating, food that has been chewed thoroughly.

In order for dog’s and cat’s bodies to digest and utilize the vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies, it needs to be pre-digested. One of my dogs loves eating raw green beans. She will chomp it up and swallow it but I realize that her body is not utilizing the nutrition in the green bean effectively. It is just a fun treat for her.

The easiest way to “pre-digest” the fruits and vegetables is to puree them raw, in a food processor. This will be the most digestible and allow them to effectively access the nutritional value of the food.

A difference between dogs and cats is that cats are true carnivores, they don’t need to eat anything but meat and fish, as long as they get the nutrients that they need (taurine is essential to cats and found in lean muscle meat). But this doesn’t mean that depending on their age, condition and health needs that cats can’t benefit from eating some fruits and vegetables. For example, many cats are prone to urinary tract infections and cranberries are excellent for the good health of the urinary tract.

Dogs on the other hand, are omnivores and need to eat both meat, fish and vegetables. Some fruits are good for dogs, but there are some dangers too.Now there are different theories about how much animal protein vs. fruits and vegetables you should give your pets, especially for dogs. I’ve read ecommendations anywhere from 75 to 80% animal protein, with 10 to 25% fruits and veggies. Again, I think that it depends on the breed, age, condition and health issues of your dog. For younger, active dogs, 80/20 works well. But if your dog has a condition, if it is diabetic or arthritic or is overweight, then it may benefit from more fruits and vegetables, especially ones that will specifically help your pet’s condition. Dogs only eat small amounts of fruit in nature, so only give small amounts of fruit, less than 5% of their total diet. Feed at least one hour before meat or other protein, or a minimum of three hours after. Fruit doesn’t digest well with protein. Protein takes much longer to digest so if you feed both fruit and protein together, the fruit may begin to ferment.

When deciding what vegetables to feed your dog, go with the 50/50 formula. At least 50% of the vegetables should be green leaves. Leafy green vegetables resemble grasses and other greens that wild prey eat. They are full of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. They are also a good source of fiber and have cleansing and PH balancing properties.Green leafy vegetables include: lettuce, cilantro, parsley, basil, beet tops, kale, sprouted seeds, spinach, etc. The other 50% should be veggies that are not leafy such as: zucchini, green beans, green peas, red beets, yams and other carbohydrate rich vegetables.

Next blog: The ABCs of Fruits and Vegetables….

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