Because dogs are omnivores, vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables should form a substantial part of their diet. They are not essential, however. Dogs can live and survive without such fare. There is only one problem. They will never be totally healthy. Their lives will be short, disease ridden and painful. In other words, vegetables are essential for a dog’s health. It is impossible for a dog to be totally healthy unless it spends a lifetime eating vegetables as a major part of it’s diet. – Dr. Ian Billingstad
What Dr. Ian Billingstad knew in the ’70s is becoming more common in how we feed our dogs today. Those of us who feed vegetables to our dogs do it because we want them to live long, healthy lives in optimal health. Before you go throwing expensive organic vegetables in your pup’s bowl, let’s make sure he is really able to benefit from them.
Wolves and dogs in the wild eat the stomach contents of their prey, and typically their prey are herbivores, making the stomach contents predigested vegetable matter. This has been a natural part of dogs and wolves diets for a long, long time.
Dog’s don’t have the teeth of an herbivore, which are flat and able to grind and crush vegetables and plant matter. Dogs have sharp canine teeth meant for ripping and tearing flesh. So while the common argument that dogs aren’t meant to eat vegetables may be true in that sense, that doesn’t meant they didn’t still have access to vegetable matter as a regular part of their diet, and greatly benefitted from it. Taken out of their natural state, it is up to us to help them get that nutrition in other ways.
In order for our dogs to get the maximum benefit from the vegetables we feed them, we need to mimic the state of vegetables they once ate in the wild. Plant cells are each surrounded by a cellulose cell wall. Dogs can’t digest cellulouse, which means when they are fed a whole carrot, whole green bean, etc, it comes out looking the same as when it went it. Sounds familiar? A whole vegetable provides fiber, but if that cell wall isn’t broken, either in the body or before as we are doing, then the nutrients aren’t available for the body to use.
In order for the nutrition to be available, the contents of each and every cell has to be released from the cellulose wall that surrounds it. This means the vegetables need to be crushed in some way or another. Green Juju crushes the cell walls by juicing the vegetables, then mixes the pulp back in with the juice to provide beneficial fiber along with the now readily usable nutrients.
The other option is to cook the vegetables before feeding them. Dogs can digest cooked vegetables, however the process of heating through cooking destroys the majority of the nutrients and kills the natural enzymes that help digest the food. Feeding fresh, raw vegetables is preferred because the nutrition is kept in tact and preserves the living enzymes, or “life force” which is crucial for optimal health.
This isn’t to say that you can’t feed your dog fruits and veggies as treats or snacks, just don’t be surprised if you see them on the way out as well!