After my recommendation last week to get more vegetables into your dog’s diet, we got an interesting response on the HALO blog (which generously gives me a public forum every Thursday to express my nutritional ideas), questioning whether a dog can digest raw vegetables. Here’s what we were asked:
“I thought dogs could not digest raw vegetables, but only cooked. I am sure I read that somewhere. Our dog always did love raw carrots and green beans from the garden. We would toss her one while we were out picking, and she loved it! But we always found the undigested pieces later.”
The answer is that all we omnivores can eat raw vegetables – in fact, we should probably be eating a lot more of them than we are eating right now! This goes for us and our two-legged children, as well as our dogs – as with anything in the diet, this hold true as long as they are healthy and in good digestive health in the first place.
How our dogs digest what we feed them may vary according to how well the food is chewed before going down the hatch. If you remember those classes in school, digestion begins in the mouth with the saliva, which begins to break down the food, and then is followed by mastication (chewing), which prepares the food even further to be digested. Even vegetables that we and our dogs “wolf down” rapidly (think of how corn kernels can go through the system and appear undigested) without applying enough of those first two steps of digestion – can nevertheless provide nutrients and aid the whole digestive system. Your dog’s body still makes use of vegetables, even if they are still visible in the feces. [I am assuming you meant the vegetables were “undigested” in the poop, not in vomit? Because if your dog were to vomit after eating raw vegetables, then it’s probably not the ideal snack for that dog (or for your carpet!)]
Eating a wide variety of foods in many different forms is the best way to cover all nutritional bases for all of us. HALO kibble includes vegetables in the recipe (that are ground up and not visible), plus the pieces of dehydrated veggies (closer to the fresh version) that are visible in the bag. Spot’s Stew in a can has loads of cooked vegetables, which are really nutritious, too. Raw foods are considered most nutrient-rich because they are less processed. Fresh foods add fiber, vitamins and fun to your dog’s diet and – in this reader’s case – let you get even more enjoyment of your gardening time together. How lucky to have a dog who appreciates the pleasure of sun-kissed veggies, fresh from the earth!