Not every raw-fed dog gets fruits and vegetables; some feed meat only. If you're going to feed vegetables and fruit, though, it needs to be processed since dogs a) like humans, also lack the ability to break down cellulose, the stuff that cell walls are made of, and b) dogs don't really chew that thoroughly. So giving your dog a carrot to munch on is a nice treat, but don't expect it to have too much caloric or nutritional value - just look at the sizes of the carrot pieces that come out the other end...
So, the vegetables must be Processed. And by that, we mean, "ground up in the food processor into teeny little bits." Since The Processing of the Vegetables is usually a time-intensive task and involves use of heavy machinery, we tend to do it in bulk every few weeks and freeze the results in the plastic take-out containers until we're ready to use them.
We get a weekly organic fruit and vegetable delivery (they send us a box of whatever is fresh that week) and whatever we don't eat in the first few days gets saved for our Canine Composter. Here is this week's list, for example:
- GREEN BEANS
- GREEN LEAF LETTUCE
- RUSSET POTATOES
- BARTLETT PEARS
- VALENCIA ORANGES
- RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT
- RED DELICIOUS APPLES
Of this list, biggie will probably get the carrots, collards and lettuce, and maybe also the kale and some kiwi. We have also saved some broccoli trimmings from tonight's dinner, and some overripe apples, pears and kiwis from prior weeks. It all gets moderately washed, cut into processor-sized pieces, and all churned up. It is pretty amazing how good the veggies and fruits smell when they've been all ground up.
It's pretty hard to mess up the veggie mix, but it is important to know which fruits and vegetables are toxic to dogs. There are plenty of lists on the internet, and they all say NO grapes, raisins, onions, scallions, garlic, avocados. We also cut out any apple or pear seeds as they contain small amounts of cyanide. Finally, corn seems to upset some dogs' stomachs, so we stay away from that too.
TIME SAVING TIPS
It's also helpful to remember that you don't have to wash the stuff TOO thoroughly. When we first started doing the raw diet, I spent so much time washing the leafy greens, until P-Daddy reminded me one day, "He eats dirt." In short, the stuff doesn't have to be triple-washed; a decent rinse will do. Also, you don't have to peel most of the stuff you put in the processor.
I have in the past cheated by throwing thawed frozen vegetables into the processor (peas, carrots, butternut squash, broccoli), or even being REALLY lazy and putting the thawed vegetables directly in the bowl when we've run out of veggie mix. Biggie's survived, so we've gotten more comfortable over time with improvising if we run out of mix (or the last pack is still frozen).
Biggie gets about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of veggie mix (more if you're using cut up vegetables since the mix is pretty dense) per meal, twice a day, mixed about 1:1 with yogurt and/or canned pumpkin and some fish oil. He loves it.
Here's a picture of TPotV: in the background are the bits of vegetable cut up and ready for the processor; in the front is a few weeks' worth of veggie mix.
For the curious, here's a list of all the fruits and vegetables Biggie has ever had in his mix - all raw unless otherwise noted:
butternut squash (peeled, lightly cooked and cooled)
yams/sweet potatoes (lightly cooked, unpeeled)
beet trimmings and peels