Do you remember when you were growing up and your mother always told you to “finish eating your vegetables, or no dessert”? Yeah, me too. Well, believe it or not, our pups can benefit from a small amount of veggies in their regular diet as well. Dogs on the BARF diet, a very popular raw food guideline, recommend feeding 10-20% of your dog’s meal with veggies.
Some people might say, “My dog is a carnivore - Why would I feed him/her veggies?” The answer is simple: your dog’s digestive tract is similar to that of a wolf. Wolves in the wild hunt and eat prey, such as rabbits. Rabbits, in return, eat vegetables. Thus, the wolf ingests the vegetables the rabbit has ingested prior.
The catch is - you shouldn’t just feed them vegetables raw. How do you feed them, then?
In order for the dog to digest the veggies properly, we have to help them out with methods such as pureeing, grinding, or fermenting vegetables which breaks down their cellular walls and help dogs absorb all the nutrients available.
Fermented foods are rich in natural probiotics from the good bacteria that grow during the fermentation process. Probiotics are beneficial for dogs because through the process of fermentation, you are making it easier for your pup to digest food and providing less work for their gut to break down the nutrients into what they can actually use and process. A dog’s immune system is primarily in their gut; so, by supporting the gut, you’re supporting the immune system in return.
It is possible to buy pre-made fermented vegetables, but many people find that they prefer to make their own for ease of cost and peace of mind. You know what is going into your jars because you put it there! Many pre-made fermented veggies or those in cans contain high amounts of sodium which we want to steer clear of.
We have our own recipe featured on our IGTV channel, you can check that out here. For those that don’t have time to watch the videos, I have included the recipes down below.
If you have never fed fermented veggies to your dog before, it is best to start with a simple sauerkraut blend like the one below, no brine needed.
1 head of organic green cabbage
2% himalayan salt (approximately 1 TBSP)
*Note: Himalayan salt is recommended over table salt because it is rich in minerals and adds to the taste, whereas table salt is 97% sodium chloride and all trace minerals are removed!
Take your head of cabbage and shred it as desired. Place shredded cabbage into bowl. Add 2% salt (compared to the weight of the head of the cabbage) to the shredded cabbage. Most cabbages are around 2 pounds, so that would amount to 1 TBSP of salt.
Massage the salt into the cabbage mixture then let sit for 1-2 hours. You will know it’s ready to pack if you notice liquid on the bottom of the bowl.
Squeeze cabbage mixture and pack into glass jar. Take a leaf from the cabbage head and firmly push on top of your cabbage mixture to keep it “packed”. Place your ViscoDisc on top and then add your airlock top on the jar. If the weather is warm, your fermented veggie mix will be ready to eat in 3-4 weeks. In the wintertime it should take 5-6 weeks. For big dogs, you can start with feeding 1 TSP per meal. For small dogs, ½ TSP or less is recommended when starting to feed for the first time.
All ORGANIC (pesticide free)
2 heads of cabbage (savoy, green)
1 bunch of Fresh parsley
1 bunch of Dandelion root
1 bunch of Beet Greens,
1 bunch of Kale
1 bunch of Swish Chard
1 bunch of Stinging Nettle
1 gallon of filtered water
76 grams of salt.
*Note: When handling your nettle fresh, use gloves.
Shred your ingredients into a big bowl. Mix well. Stuff your mixture into your glass jars, making sure it’s packed tight. Take a leaf of cabbage and place it inside your jar, on top of your veggie mix. This will keep your veggies under the brine. Place your ViscoDisc over cabbage leaf and press firmly. (See IG video for placement example)
To make the brine brine: add salt to your gallon of water. Shake well. Pour water/salt mixture to the top of your veggie jar. Place fermentation lid on top of jar and seal shut. Let sit on the counter for 3-4 weeks in warmer weather, 4-6 weeks in cooler weather.
Equipment for Fermenting:
Easy Fermenter Set (Lids and Pump)
Easy Fermenter Weights
Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jars
Stainless Steel Bowls
Remember that not all veggies are safe for dogs! Some that I recommend are:
There is a bit of a wait until your ferment is ready to feed (and eat), but the benefits may certainly worth the wait. Fermented vegetables contain amazing cancer fighting properties such as lactic acid that fights off nasty cancer cells while maintaining the health of the good cells. Fermented veggies are not only cancer fighting, but an amazing probiotic. Probiotics can help your pup break down their food properly and prevent diahrrea!
By definition, fermentation is “the process in which a substance breaks down into a simpler substance. Microorganisms like yeast and bacteria usually play a role in the fermentation process, creating beer, wine, bread, kimchi, yogurt and other foods.”
Cabbage, which is our main base for all our fermentations, has a long shelf life because of the natural lactic acid bacteria from the leaves. They are the perfect base for fermentation, because the process that cabbage goes through to turn into Sauerkraut contains microorganisms on the cabbage that digest its natural sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide and organic acids.
Some might wonder: how does this compare to dairy based fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir? While kefir and yogurt are great sources of probiotics as well, some dogs simply cannot tolerate lactose and many prefer veggie fermentation.
So, if you haven’t given it a try yet, consider fermenting veggies for your pup! They will thank you in return. Don’t forget, the mix is not only good for your pup - it’s good for YOU too! So enjoy a nice scoop of fermented vegetables with your next meal and reap the benefits.