I started adding veggies to my raw dog food; here’s why

For years, I fed my dogs a prey model diet with no added vegetables or supplements (beyond fish oil). The results were great; switching to raw was one of the best decisions I ever made for my dog’s overall health. But the more research I did, the more I began to step outside the more strict “prey model” philosophy.

In this article, I plan to bust some myths and explain why I changed my philosophy when it comes to including vegetables in raw dog food diets.

Dogs don’t need plant matter for survival… but it can be beneficial

Dogs do not require vegetables or carbohydrates in their diet. This is something virtually everyone agrees on, including AAFCO and NRC – carbs are not essential for a dog’s survival.

But when I switched my dogs to raw, I did so with the intention of feeding them the best possible diet I could, not just what they needed to meet minimum dietary requirements for survival.

Just because an animal doesn’t require something for survival doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial.

And while there is evidence that veggies can be beneficial for dogs, there is no sound evidence that they are harmful in moderation.

Benefits of vegetables for dogs

Vegetables provide a source of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, and some minerals that are not found in significant enough amounts in just meat, bone, and organ. While dogs have the ability to synthesize their own vitamin C and vitamin K, including some of these vitamins in the diet can be beneficial. Vegetables and fruits are a great source of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber.

One study found that Scottish Terriers fed leafy green or yellow/orange veggies at least three times a week were up to 70-90% less likely to develop bladder cancer, even though vitamin supplements didn’t show the same results [1].

Studies show an organic compound called sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables, may have potential anti-cancer properties in canines [2, 3, 4]. Baicalein, a flavonoid found in some plant roots, has also been the subject of research due to its potential anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties [5].

It is important to keep in mind that the concentrations of these compounds found in vegetables will not be enough to cure cancer, and these in vitro studies do not guarantee that feeding vegetables alone can prevent or cure cancer. The takeaway from these studies should be that fresh, whole foods, including vegetables, contain beneficial nutrients, compounds, and phytochemicals with a long list of potential benefits for the overall health of our dogs (and ourselves!), which cannot be replicated by synthetic vitamin supplements alone.

Wild canids do consume plant matter

A common argument against feeding veggies is that our dog’s wild cousins don’t eat plant matter. However, this is false.

A closer look at many of the studies used to back up this argument reveals that these studies took place during winter months and/or were focused on northern species, but this isn’t an accurate representation of all wild canine diets; because significantly less vegetation would’ve been available to the canids in these studies, obviously the consumption of less vegetation will be observed.

Other studies demonstrate that the diet is not the same year round [6], showing that more variety – and, yes, plant matter – is consumed during summer and spring months [7]. Location is also a huge factor.

Is “prey model” an accurate representation of wild canid diets?

The “prey model” diet of meat, bone, and organ actually does not even accurately represent what canids eat in the wild.

Wild canids would also be consuming fur, feathers, and hide, and would have access to far greater of a variety of organ meats, glands, and other by-products that are difficult or impossible to provide in a “prey model” diet for our dogs. This means that, unless someone is feeding primarily whole prey to their dog, “prey model” diets likely fall short in many minerals and definitely contain less fiber and roughage than the true diet of wild canids.

We must also consider the nutritional differences in a wild canid’s diet of primarily wild ungulates – in other words, grass fed red meat – in comparison with a typical “prey model” diet – in other words, primarily conventionally farmed, and usually poultry-based.

Are modern wild canid diets relevant to domestic canines?

Research suggests that the evolution of dogs from wild wolves is a lot more complex than previously thought. The exact species of our dog’s ancestors may not even be alive today, and genetic analysis of dogs and wolves reveal that dogs are much more closely related to each other than they are with their wild ancestors – including primitive breeds like the basenji [8].

Genetic analysis has also demonstrated that dogs have developed the ability to produce more pancreatic amylase than wolves [9]. Amylase is an enzyme that is used in the digestion of starch. This analysis shows that not only do wild canids have the ability to digest starch, but domestic canines can do so significantly more effectively than their wild cousins. So although dogs and wolves have very similar digestive systems, they are technically not 100% the same – and that difference shouldn’t be overlooked. This varies by breed, too – a sighthound like a saluki might thrive on a higher starch diet than a northern breed like a malamute.

What this means is, when researching wolf diets to learn more about what we should feed our dogs, we need to take it with a grain of salt. Although studying the diet of our dog’s ancestors is an important factor, it simply shouldn’t be the sole basis used to decide what is best for our dogs.

For these reasons, using wolf diet studies as definitive, “end all be all” guidelines for the domestic dog’s diet is short-sighted and inaccurate.

Nutrition myths, misunderstandings, and logical fallacies

The idea that a diet should be completely based on what wild animals eat is rooted in a logical fallacy called “appeal to nature” which claims that because something is natural, it must be good. This is a flawed argument. Distemper, rabies, mange, malnutrition, injuries, and parasites are all natural. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is what is best for our dogs.

Strict “prey model” advocates commonly claim that dogs should not eat plant matter because they can’t digest cellulose, but this shows a lack of understanding of digestion and nutrition. Us humans can’t digest cellulose either! Cellulose is, by definition, fiber; and fiber is, by definition, the indigestible portion of plant-based foods.

The reason fiber is beneficial is in fact because it is not digestible. This is not an argument against including plant matter in the diet; in fact, fiber is an excellent reason to add plant matter. Fiber provides a source of prebiotics and fermentable substrates that help improve healthy gut function [10]. Small amounts of fiber have been shown to be beneficial for gut microbiome health in dogs [11].

Moderation is key

Within many prey model circles, there seems to be a disconnect – many assume that when someone recommends the addition of plant matter in a dog’s diet, that automatically translates to recommending plant matter make up a large portion of the diet. The misunderstanding seems to be that there is no middle ground or moderation.

But this isn’t further from the truth; the dog’s diet should be primarily meat based, and plant matter should be used in moderation, supplementally alongside the meat based diet. A diet can contain veggies and still be “low carb”. Including a reasonable amount of vegetables (I use about 10%) in your dog’s diet will not be a strain on your dog’s pancreas, nor will it create issues with nutrient absorption from anti-nutrients. You only need to worry about that if you are feeding very large amounts of grain and vegetables. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend feeding more than 30% veggies unless your dog has a medical condition that calls for more.

What do the experts say?

Steve Brown, author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet and See Spot Live Longer and owner of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, is considered an expert by many in the raw dog food community. He believes plant matter should be fed to dogs in a raw diet, writing, “Vegetables and other plant matter were part of the dog’s ancestral diet. Vegetables provide essential nutrients, including fiber, minerals and vitamins. Without the plant matter providing those nutrients, an all-meat diet would need supplements. Vegetables can also help protect against certain forms of cancer.” You can read more about Steve Brown’s philosophy on vegetables for dogs in his article by clicking here.

Lew Olson, PhD, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, states in one of her monthly B-Naturals newsletters (which you can read by clicking here), “Feeding vegetables may not be entirely necessary, but they can offer benefits of fiber and calories in home cooked diets and they may offer some useful nutrients in raw diets.”

Dr. Karen Becker is another well known name in the raw dog food industry. In this article, she states, “Vegetables are important to the health of pets. Dogs need them because they contain essential nutrients (such as powerful antioxidants) not provided by other foods like meat and bones. Wild dogs, wolves, and coyotes consume grasses, berries, and wild fruits and vegetables to acquire these important nutrients.”

Cat Lane is the canine nutritionist behind The Possible Canine and the Facebook group Canine Nutrition and Natural Health. She has also written about including vegetables in a dog’s diet. “Recent awareness about overconsumption of carbohydrate foods has led many to feel that all carbs are undesirable and that, sadly, includes fruit and more importantly, vegetables.” Her article is a must read; you can check it out by clicking here.

How should I add vegetables to my dog’s raw diet?

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Adding vegetables to your dog’s diet is easy. Vegetables should be processed in some way to make them more bioavailable and easier to utilize. You can do this by pureeing, chopping/grinding to a pulp in a food processor, or cooking. Since cooking may deplete some nutrients, I prefer to process veggies for my dogs using a food processor. I then freeze the veggie mix into molds for easy feeding.

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Leafy green vegetables, like kale, chard, spinach, arugula, parsley or mustard greens should be the main focus. Broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, and carrots are also good choices. Fruits like blueberries, cranberries, papaya, pineapple, and raspberries offer great antioxidants, but are high in sugar, so use in moderation. Starchy veggies like sweet potato are a good choice for some dogs, but should be avoided or kept to a minimum if your dog doesn’t need to gain weight.

I still follow “prey model” ratios, I just added veggies in – so I feed 70-75% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5-10% veggies/fruits, and 10% organs. I prefer these ratios over BARF because the prey model bone percentage is much more accurate in providing a correct amount of calcium in the diet, and I feel that BARF ratios provide too much room for error in that regard.

Conclusion

Does your dog NEED veggies in their raw diet in order to survive? No, absolutely not. But are there benefits to adding veggies to your dog’s raw diet in moderation? Personally, I say yes, but that is for you to decide for your own dogs. Every dog is different.

Feed the dog in front of you!

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28 comments

  1. And the reason why dogs would produce more enzymes like Amylase is because the PANCREAS MUST work more/harder(whatever word you want to use) to PRODUCE MORE Amylase so in the long run you make the pancreas work harder And what does that do “eventually” to the pancreas, well can cause damage – can cause Diabetes, and once one organ starts breaking down, other internal organs will start breaking down(this also happens in humans)

    Dr. Becker what a joke, really she and Rodney Habib tell people to feed 20-25% veggies & fruit and in the wild, yes dogs are way more closely related to their wild ancestor, the wolf(and yes, I’ve studied wolves not only for 35+yrs now but also observed them in the wild in my 20’s with biologist and conservationists) Wolves do NOT eat plant much plant matter at all and they do “Not” eat vegetables which is what you are advising people to feed their pets(or at least dogs) In the wild, wolves only eat a little “digested” plant matter including vegetables in SMALL prey animals BUT their primary diet are larger prey animals and primarily herbivore animals. In their diet, they actually do eat 2% of their diet of seasonal fruits “usually” seasonal berries, but they have been observed eating apples & pears as well(heck even one wolf was seen eating a water melon, again NOT normal) They also eat grass, dandelions and some herbs but that is it. Have you ever seen a wolf eat some berries? I have, and we saw undigested berries in their scat because their digestive system is much faster when you feed complete raw diets – that is how their bodies are designed and that is how domestic dogs & cats bodies are designed as well. Study their anatomy & physiology just like I’ve advised Dr. Becker, Dr. Pitcairn and of course, Rodney Habib as well. I even asked Dr. Becker for her so called science fact based studies she told me she had, and I said love to learn and would like to know who funded those studies – Pet Food Industry? BigPharma or now the Farming Industry as well as people are tired of eating chemical based plants and going more organic so where do you think a lot of those vegetables are going to go – the PFI. She never sent them to me.

    And Evolution has done NOTHING to the internal organs of both dogs & cats, nor have they changed in wild carnivores including their wild ancestors. So their organs have worked the same way since the beginning of domesticated dogs(30,000+yrs ago) and domestic cats 10-12,000yrs ago. Wolves & ALL wild cats internal organs have not changed either and their internal organs and domestic dogs & cats actually work identically to their wild ancestors.

    I do not understand for one second why you people keep believing that it is good to feed vegetables to your pets when not only is it not necessary but they get very little to none of the nutrients from them as well! They are not bioavailable to your pets. And the “digested” small amount of plant matter eaten in the wild by wolves, has been digested by the enzymes of that small prey animal it is eating NOT by some steaming or blending or whatever you want to do including feeding veggies raw.

    Yes I believe fruits and veggies have nutrients and benefits to them but only for those with a digestive system that can utilize and break them down so herbivores and some omnivores. Even humans still have a hard time breaking down cellulose. Herbivores like rabbits, deer family animals, goats, sheep and cows are pretty much the only ones that have a system that can break that down and part of it has to do with the fact that they are constantly re-chewing what they just consumed. Just because something has benefits doesn’t mean everyone can use them and even domestic carnivores do not utilize most to all of the nutrients in plant matter.

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    1. Hi Mary, thank you for your comment.

      Do you have any evidence for your claim that feeding plant matter in moderation causes diabetes and organ failure in dogs?

      It seems that you did not read the article in full, as many of your points have already been discussed and refuted in this article (and backed up with citations). For example, “Even humans have a hard time breaking down cellulose.” Yes, because neither humans nor dogs produce cellulase, only herbivores do. Cellulose to omnivores and carnivores is indigestible plant matter. Indigestible plant matter is, by definition, fiber. And fiber does have nutritional benefit in moderation.

      I also never claimed that a dog’s internal organs are different than wolves. But the physiology and internal organs of an animal are not the only aspects of digestion. The nutrient requirements, the ability to convert plant nutrients into usable forms (like converting beta carotene into vitamin A, which dogs can do but cats cannot), and the ability to produce enzymes that assist in starch digestion are all key points that must be considered when deciding what is best for our dogs.

      The ability to produce an enzyme that helps to digest starch is not “overworking” the pancreas – producing enzymes is part of normal pancreatic function.

      I have not advocated feeding a vegetable heavy diet to dogs – simply explained the benefits of including supplementary vegetable matter in raw dog food in moderation (like I said in the article, 5-10%). Your comment seems to imply that you have not actually read the article in full, so I encourage you to do so, and to check out the citations (the numbers in brackets throughout the article, i.e. [1] and [2], are links that you can click on – these are citations that back up the claims I have made in this article).

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      1. Feeding plant matter(vegetables) in moderation, you are looking for BS science, study the anatomy & physiology of dogs & cats, also wolves & wild cats, and since they do not produce amylase in their saliva, the pancreas has to produce it and when you feed vegetables it has to produce more. Eventually if anybody not just you, knows anything on how organs work, when you start to force an organ to do more work than it was meant to do, you eventually damage that organ, which can bring on diabetes as well or worse, that was my point.

        I did read your whole article – even in the wild they do NOT eat 5-10% of plant matter not even when they are eating seasonal berries(even few apples & pears), grass, dandelions & herbs – even if people wanted to increase that from 2% to 5% that is up to them, no way 10% and that 2-5% doesn’t include vegetables especially leafy vegetables.

        Carbohydrates are considered one of three energy sources available aside protein and fats. This type of energy is sourced from other materials outside of proteins, amino acids, fats or fatty acids. Instead carbohydrates are found in plant materials including fruit, vegetables as well as grains.

        There is not a dietary requirement for carbohydrates in the canine and definitely not in the feline diet. Some sources reference a general guideline that if included in a diet, it makes up around 25%(like Dr. Becker & Rodney Habib!!). By recommendation of many veterinarians, certain circumstances may require an adjustment in this percentage as some illness such as diabetes or cancer require an increase or decrease to address the illness and the body’s needs. This percentage however is very much over rated as carnivores have no requirement for carbohydrates and may further hinder the health of the companion. Many companion owners are misled to think that meat cannot have a positive effect on their companion’s health, however this is very untrue.

        Carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables and grains. In addition to not being a dietary requirement they are defined as not having a complete amino acid profile. A complete amino acid profile refers to a source that provides all needed amino acids to function. Carbohydrates also do not contain some essential vitamins and minerals that carnivores like cats and dogs require. This includes taurine, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Carbohydrates furthermore have been shown to deplete Vitamin B and Vitamin C, requiring larger amounts if carbohydrates are included in the diet.

        Carbohydrates can be evaluated to determine its quality and how it could positively or negatively contribute to a companion’s diet. Despite the fact that fruits, vegetables and grains may provide some vitamins, mineral and colonic benefits, there seems to be many more draw backs than benefits.

        There are varying levels of quality. The first is low quality. These carbohydrates all around provide no nutritional value to the companion causing more harm than good. These include ingredients that cannot be digested, are often genetically modified and cause severe health issues in many cases. Ingredients such as corn, soy and wheat are included in this list and are no-no ingredients 100% percent of the time.

        he second level are those that include anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are those that can be harmful to a companion’s health despite providing some other small benefits The categories of anti-nutrients include the following:

        Gluten. Gluten is the storage protein found in many plant materials such as barley, oats, wheat and rye. Not all grains however, contain gluten which many companion animals are intolerant to. In combination with lectins that attach to the lining of the intestines a syndrome known as Leaky Gut Syndrome can result. This syndrome creates permeability in the intestinal wall allowing unwanted food particles to go directly into the blood stream. Not only does this mean absorption is not occurring properly, but harmful consequences for health overall. Although gluten is high in protein and fiber, there is little value to this ingredient and causes more harm than good in most individuals.

        Oxalate Acid. Oxalate acid is found in many dark leafy greens such as spinach, chard and kale as well as many berries such as blueberries. Oxalate acid can prevent absorption of important nutrients and further exacerbate stone and urolith formation especially in companions that already have a history.

        Phytic Acid. Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus. Like oxalate acid, it can affect the absorption of many vitamins and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium. Common sources include whole grains such as rice, legumes, seeds wheat and oats. Typically the only way to reduce phytic content is to cook the ingredient, but then that particular ingredient now suffers nutrient depleation.

        Solanine. Solanine containing carbohydrates, those in the Nightshade family like white potatoes, peppers and eggplant, can exacerbate inflammation in the individuals including further causing problems with allergies as well as joint pain.

        Goitrogens. Goitrogens are carbohydrates that can interfere with proper thyroid function. Gotirogens often are found in the Brassica Family which include cruciferous carbohydrates like broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. They can also be found in some fruits and grains such as soy and millet. Even though a fully healthy individual can consume goitrogen containing carbohydrates in large amounts with no effect on the thyroid, it is a good idea to avoid them as thyroid conditions seem to have become an epidemic among our companion animals.

        Finally, high quality carbohydrates are those that provide important vitamins and minerals as well as other healthful benefits without side effects. They are also ingredients that are highly digestible and bioavailable. Unfortunately, carbohydrate only have a bioavailability of about 65-70% versus that of meat which is well around 90-100%. This is highly noticeable in stool samples comparing companions on high carbohydrate diets versus those on meat diets. We notice a high frequency of elimination, larger sized stool and a stench we can all identify.

        *****To be continued ****

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      2. You have spent a lot of time typing out basic information about digestion and nutrition. I can assure you, I am already well aware of this information.

        “…they are eating seasonal berries(even few apples & pears), grass, dandelions & herbs – even if people wanted to increase that from 2% to 5% that is up to them, no way 10% and that 2-5% doesn’t include vegetables especially leafy vegetables.” – This is just arguing semantics at this point. Grass, dandelions, and herbs are all comparable to the nutrient composition of leafy green vegetables. Why do you think wild canids would eat these things? We could speculate that they might not have gotten as much roughage in their diet during that time, and they may have seeked out the grasses and herbs because they would provide them with fiber and a fermentable substrate for prebiotics and healthy gut bacteria. This is one of the reasons a small amount of veggies fed to our dogs might be beneficial (which was already mentioned in the article).

        And if you think 5% plant matter is fine, then why would you think 10% causes organ failure?

        The bulk of your comment is very basic information about digestion and nutrition. I can assure you, I know this information. Much of the rest of your comments continue to bring up points that have already been addressed in the article, so I will quote the relevant sections of the article for you.

        Your main argument is consistently based on what wolves eat in the wild. Quotes from the article: “A common argument against feeding veggies is that our dog’s wild cousins don’t eat plant matter. However, this is false. A closer look at many of the studies used to back up this argument reveals that these studies took place during winter months and/or were focused on northern species, but this isn’t an accurate representation of all wild canine diets; because significantly less vegetation would’ve been available to the canids in these studies, obviously the consumption of less vegetation will be observed. Other studies demonstrate that the diet is not the same year round [2], showing that more variety – and, yes, plant matter – is consumed during summer and spring months [3]. Location is also a huge factor. […] The “prey model” diet of meat, bone, and organ actually does not even accurately represent what canids eat in the wild. Wild canids would also be consuming fur, feathers, and hide, and would have access to far greater of a variety of organ meats, glands, and other by-products that are difficult or impossible to provide in a “prey model” diet for our dogs. This means that, unless someone is feeding primarily whole prey to their dog, “prey model” diets likely fall short in many minerals and definitely contain less fiber and roughage than the true diet of wild canids. […] when researching wolf diets to learn more about what we should feed our dogs, we need to take it with a grain of salt. Although studying the diet of our dog’s ancestors is an important factor, it simply shouldn’t be the sole basis used to decide what is best for our dogs. For these reasons, using wolf diet studies as definitive, “end all be all” guidelines for the domestic dog’s diet is short-sighted and inaccurate. The idea that a diet should be completely based on what wild animals eat is rooted in a logical fallacy called “appeal to nature” which claims that because something is natural, it must be good. This is a flawed argument.”

        “There is not a dietary requirement for carbohydrates in the canine and definitely not in the feline diet.” – Yes, that has been addressed. Quoting the beginning of the article: “Dogs do not require vegetables or carbohydrates in their diet. This is something virtually everyone agrees on, including AAFCO and NRC – carbs are not essential for a dog’s survival. But when I switched my dogs to raw, I did so with the intention of feeding them the best possible diet I could, not just what they needed to meet minimum dietary requirements for survival. Just because an animal doesn’t require something for survival doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial. And while there is evidence that veggies can be beneficial for dogs, there is no sound evidence that they are harmful in moderation.” And from the conclusion: “Does your dog NEED veggies in their raw diet in order to survive? No, absolutely not. But are there benefits to adding veggies to your dog’s raw diet in moderation? Personally, I say yes, but that is for you to decide for your own dogs.”

        This part of the article also seems to need further emphasis: “Within many prey model circles, there seems to be a disconnect – many assume that when someone recommends the addition of plant matter in a dog’s diet, that automatically translates to recommending plant matter make up a large portion of the diet. The misunderstanding seems to be that there is no middle ground or moderation. But this isn’t further from the truth; the dog’s diet should be primarily meat based, and plant matter should be used in moderation, supplementally alongside the meat based diet. A diet can contain veggies and still be “low carb”. Including a reasonable amount of vegetables (I use about 10%) in your dog’s diet will not be a strain on your dog’s pancreas, nor will it create issues with nutrient absorption from anti-nutrients.”

        The issue of anti nutrients was covered in one of my sources, “once we identify what these anti nutrients actually are, which foods they are found in, how to prepare foods to minimize content and how much to feed, we can see that there really isn’t a case for withholding veggies unless a specific medical condition indicate that we do” … you can read more about particular anti nutrients, and why they aren’t something we need to worry about when veggies are fed in moderation, here: http://www.thepossiblecanine.com/veggies-dog

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      3. Continued from post below:

        Sadly, this isn’t the end of the list counting against the problem with carbohydrates. There are also many health concerns in addition to those caused by the anti-nutrient carbohydrates. For example, some carbohydrates are extremely high in sugar such as corn, wheat, peas and carrots. Just like their effects in humans this can cause hyperactivity, not the good kind of energy needed for the body to thrive. This also can exacerbate diabetic companions or spike the blood sugar levels resulting in an unbalanced state which affects many systems in the body. Sugar also is the primary energy source for cancer allowing them to grow and take over the body. Sugar also can feed into inflammation which effects not only joints but also inflammation in the brain that can lead to seizures among other organs and system problems.

        Lastly looking at our feline and canine companions themselves with simple evaluation it can anatomically, chemically and physiologically be determined they are not designed to consume, digest or absorb potential nutrients from carbohydrates. The teeth of a carnivore are sharp, pointy and jagged made for holding, tearing, shearing, and crushing. The jaw moves vertically while the mouth also opens wide to consume large pieces of meat. Animals meant to consume plant material like rabbits or horses(herbivores & omnivores as well) have flat teeth with jaws that move side to side.

        Amylase, an enzyme required to breaking down carbohydrates and cellulase produced to break down cellulose in plant cell walls are not made by canines or felines. They do however make the enzyme, trypsin, which is made in the pancreas specifically for breaking down meats. The pancreas does have the ability to make a small amount of amylase but this is very stressful on the pancreas. So when people choose to feed vegetables including leafy vegetables, you are requiring the pancreas to work “more”/”harder” whatever word you want to use, it must do this to produce more Amylase to break down as much as the plant matter as possible and even in doing so, they receive very little to none of the nutrients from these vegetables – so WHY feed them!?

        Felines and canines also have a very short digestive tract so food must be readily absorbable to be useful. With such a short tract there is no time to breakdown complex material like carbohydrates. Fat and protein however are easily digested.

        At the end of the day felines are obligate carnivores and canines who only eat carbohydrates in “dire” situations are not designed or meant to consume carbohydrates including vegetables/plant matter. Although many believe that canines and felines can eat carbohydrates regardless of potential quality there are too many drawbacks to completely ignore. Although we humans thrive on fruits, vegetables and grains along with meat, our companions are just not mean to consume this food source effectively and thus it is “not” the best addition to add to your companions complete raw diet.

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      4. This article isn’t about grains, nor is it about felines.

        Sugar in excess causes the issues you mention. Very minimal sugar from a small amount of vegetables will not cause those problems.

        You have yet to provide a source for your claim that producing enzymes is stressful on the pancreas. Since you cannot provide proof, I will continue to subscribe to current scientific knowledge, that the pancreas produces enzymes as part of its normal function, and there is no sound evidence that supports the idea that small amounts of plant matter will cause organ failure or diabetes in an animal like you have claimed.

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  2. Saliva: Amylase is something that herbivores and omnivores have in their saliva. This enzyme helps the pancreas break down chemical bonds in sugars and starches. Because carnivores (dogs) don’t have amylase in their saliva the burden of breaking down starches and sugars is entirely up to the pancreas, thus making it work overtime.

    What does pancreas burnout cause? Diabetes. What else can happen to your dogs(& cats) once you start making one organ work more(or harder) to produce more enzymes, you start damaging that organ and once one organ starts becoming damaged or worse totally damaged, other internal organs start to shut down as well.

    The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin. By feeding your dog plant foods you are overworking the cells of the pancreas to maximum production. Overwork these cells for too long and they will begin to shut down. Once shut down they no longer produce insulin.

    The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes has been on the rise for years and it’s no wonder. The public has been lead to believe that their carnivorous companions need fruits and veggies.

    Why? Simple. Plant matter/vegetables is a cheap filler for dog and cat foods, including complete pre-made raw diets that are being made incorrectly adding all these vegetables to their products INSTEAD of adding MORE lean muscle meat(or better using better cuts as well)

    Next, well I won’t go over how carnivores jaws & teeth are designed as you can see they do not have any flat molars to chew plant matter very well at all.

    Onto the Digestive Tract: Carnivores have relatively short digestive tracts that digest food very quickly with the help of hydrochloric acid (responsible for breaking down and killing bacteria such as the kind found in decaying meats). This is unlike herbivores and omnivores whose digestive tracts take longer to break down foods for the purpose of being able to properly digest carbohydrates and plant matter.

    Today many dogs(& cats) suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhagic gastritis, ulcers and gastric dilatation at alarming rates. Poor diets are the clear cause of course many of these are commercial dry kibble & most canned foods “but” there are too many poor raw diets being made, again, with too much plant matter in them.

    Again, the Pancreas: The pancreas produces trypsin for breaking down protein, but does not readily produce amylase for breaking down carbohydrates, nor does it produce cellulase- essential for breaking down glucose and cellulose.

    As I covered above, the pancreas is taxed by its inability to handle vegetables/plant matter and in more ways than, not even pre-processed vegetables.

    I’d rather feed how their bodies are totally designed, and “not” take years off their “normal” life spans by feeding them food that is not bioavailable to them in the first place. Feed a complete raw diet, made primarily from herbivore animals, not tons of chicken, turkey or pork, not even tons of fish, and stop over vaccinating including rabies; stop feeding TOXIC POISONS of HW pills; chemical flea tick & mosquito products of topical/oral pills & injections from allopathic vets/collars; stop allowing your allopathic vets from over using antibiotics/steroids/NSAID’s and you will have not only a LONG lived dog & cat, but a Vital & Healthy animal without feeding them food items they were not meant to digest/eat in the first place.

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    1. Pancreatic function includes producing enzymes. That doesn’t mean the pancreas is working overtime, that means it is functioning normally. The issues you are describing might apply to excessive consumption of starches, but the minimal consumption of 5-10% plant matter I have recommended in this article will absolutely not cause the pancreas to work too hard and result in diabetes or more.

      “The pancreas produces trypsin for breaking down protein, but does not readily produce amylase for breaking down carbohydrates, nor does it produce cellulase- essential for breaking down glucose and cellulose.” – A dog’s pancreas does produce amylase, and I have cited sources for that in this article. And again, no, it doesn’t produce cellulase, but it doesn’t have to in order to benefit from vegetable matter, because cellulose is indigestible plant matter, and indigestible plant matter is fiber. Cellulose is literally fiber. Also, glucose doesn’t need to be broken down any further, it is a monosaccharide.

      I feel the need to repeat: this article recommends 5-10% plant matter. That is not an excessive amount of starches in the diet, and dogs are perfectly capable of digesting and utilizing it without ill effect. Yes, meat is more bioavailable for dogs, thus meat should make up the majority of the diet and vegetables ideally shouldn’t be relied on to fill in any significant dietary gaps. But, as the article explains in detail, there are benefits to feeding veggies in moderation.

      You have yet to provide any proof for the claim that veggies in moderation cause organ failure, diabetes, and a shortened lifespan. You also claim that dogs cannot “handle” plant matter, even “pre processed” vegetables, yet this is simply false according to every piece of literature I have read in my research. Can you provide a reputable source for these claims?

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  3. Excellent article, was most intrested to learn of the location and seasonal limitations of the the studies about wild dogs. I am constantly needing to validate why i add vegetables and fruits to my dogs diet, as much as id love to feed organically raised humanly slaughtered meat my wallet dosnt allow such luxury, we feed a blitzed mix of leafy greens, carrots, dandelion, nettle and the odd fruit pending the season to counteract the nutritional deficiencys in grain fed fed lot animals.
    As well as you said to replace the fiber that is missing due to not feeding fur/feather.

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  4. Great article!

    You could have stopped after the 2nd paragraph under “benefits” for me… where it states SCIENTIFIC STUDIES show that dogs with diets containing some veggies have lower rates of certain cancers. No need to go further. That’s reason enough for me!

    I feed whole prey model raw PLUS veggies. It used to be mostly random, but since my dog has torn her CCL and been on restricted activity, which led to her gaining some weight, I’ve upped the veggies to 15-20% of her diet to cut calories. We’re using Green JuJu as the veggies right now, but I rotate through various varieties. It helps that my dog (170lb english mastiff) LOVES veggies… everything except green beans (the one recommended most often to cut calories). She does NOT like green beans. LOL.

    Another reason I NEED to add veggies (for MY unique dog) is to regulate stool size & softness. 10% bone causes constipation, but lower bone content leads to solid poops too small to express her anal glands. I use sweet potato and other veggies to increase stool bulk and keep the anal glands clear, while avoiding constipation issues.

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  5. Nice article. I feed veggies and freeze ground up veggies in ice cube trays easy to take out and serve. She needed to loose some weight so the added veggies does help her feel bit more full and she lost the weight and looks great. I mix her joint supplement when I give the veggies to her.

    I follow prey model and do give whole prey once in while either whole rabbit, sardines, herring, and quail. Only thing she leaves of the quail is the flight feathers and it’s her favorite meal.

    My shiba also loves to munch on pears from my tree. I see no issue with the article it’s good information. Some veggies and fruits fine not going to hurt the dog long as they’re in moderation and good veggies that are appropriate for dogs.

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  6. I agree with this article. Dogs produce a small amount of amylase in their saliva and their pancreas produces amylase in appropriate amounts. As a seasoned biologist I also disagree with many of the extreme responses and twisting of information that Mary put up. Predigested Leafy greens are a great way to incorporate fiber and antioxidants. Just because dogs didn’t eat it in the wild doesn’t mean it isn’t good for them. I mean, if we all ate a caveman diet we would probably only live to a ripe cave man age of 20.

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  7. Hi Plear, thank you for the wonderful statements on feeding veg. I started raw feeding my dogs in 1998 and continued until my last in 2012 .(I had a later one who couldn’t tolerate raw, sadly)
    I have always fed veg/fruit mix and like you my point is the issue of vitamins and trace minerals and cellulose. Thank you for standing up for veggies 😀 Keep going!!

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  8. I agree on the article. 5-10% veggies doesn’t equal 5-10% carbs depending on what is being fed. Dogs with CANCER are being fed diets with veggies and reversing cancer. If veggies were taxing on the body I’m pretty sure they would be getting more ill.

    Ps. Sheep dont have amalyse in their saliva either 😉

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  9. As dogs have been human companions for millennia, it would seem to me that they must have been eating a more varied diet than wolves. If picking up fruit, veg, bread etc was so hugely detrimental then they would not be with us. Thanks for your non hysterical and scientific article. Moderation is a wise mantra.

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  10. I am curious as to the use of fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut. Dr Becker had mentioned it as a great source for probiotics. My dogs love fermented sauerkraut and some other fermented veggies. Are these as good as she says? I am feeding a prey model raw diet and have incorporated some veggies and fruits recently, being aware of carbs.

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  11. Hi! I was wondering how many of those little mini cupcakes (of veggies of course) you give to your dog a day? and how much your dog weigh for a marker? (I am new to the raw diet for dogs and have been having issues finding how much to give them). Thank you!!!

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    1. You can feed about 5-10% veggies. So that means however much liver you’re feeding (should be 5%), you can feed that amount or even double that amount in veggies. It ends up being a small amount of the diet, but that’s all a dog usually needs! Of course, every dog is different, some do better with more veggies than others. Just find what works best for your dog 😊

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  12. This was very informative to the lay person. I am a nurse/dietitian …This article is also very confusing. I feed my sheltie a raw meat diet and try to look for new information only from specialists … So I will make my own conclusion based on this expert information.

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  13. Thank You for the GREAT article!!

    I have been feeding small amounts of fruits and veggies to my companions for years, and they absolutely love them!!!

    I grow a variety of leafy greens. Every time I take my guys outside they, after doing their ‘duty’, head straight for the Kale, bypassing all the other leafy greens and rip off a large leaf!!
    To me this says it all, dogs need, dogs, at least mine, love fruits and veggies!!

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  14. Thank You for the GREAT article!!

    I have been feeding small amounts of fruits and veggies to my companions for years, and they absolutely love them!!!

    I grow a variety of leafy greens. Every time I take my guys outside they, after doing their ‘duty’, head straight for the Kale, bypassing all the other leafy greens and rip off a large leaf!!
    To me this says it all, dogs need, dogs, at least mine, love fruits and veggies!!

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  15. Excellent article, I feed my dogs some veggies too and they do better with them in the diet, their bloodwork reflects this. At the end whether you choose to feed veggies or not is individual choice: There are many reasons for including veggies in a dog’s diet including renal and hepatic issues. I feel that one size doesn’t fit all and the case for each dog needs to be addressed according to what is best for that dog.

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