Yes, the bulk of your dog's meals are primarily meat based sources. However, why would someone include vegetables in their dog's diet? I believe (and based on research) that vegetables are an amazing source of nutrients for your dog's diet (and yours). Whether you feed a commercially prepared kibble/wet food diet, or a raw fresh food diet, including vegetables in those diets can be beneficial in multiple ways. I will be discussing why I include the chosen vegetables a few times a week in my dog's raw meat diet.
Antioxidants, Vitamins & Minerals
Kale has high amounts of vitamins and minerals and is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet because of its low calorie content and high nutrient value. "Kale is a dark green cruciferous vegetable loaded with vitamins (especially vitamins K, A and C), iron and antioxidants. It helps with liver detoxification and also has anti-inflammatory properties" (source).
Kale also contains a high amount of flavanoids. Flavanoids are very powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substances. Kale happens to be high in the flavanoid Quercetin. Quercetin has anti-cancerous effects, it is anti-inflammatory (helps with allergies - especially environmental allergies), and helps prevent oxidative damage to the body.
"Research has shown that Quercetin can “turn off” histamine production and suppress, or at least moderate, inflammation. For this reason, many have coined it 'Nature’s Benadryl'" (source).
Like kale, parsley is very nutrient dense. It contains very high amounts of chlorophyll. "Chlorophyll helps to cleanse all the cells of the body, fight infection, heal wounds, build the immune system and detoxify all systems, particularly the liver and the digestive system. It also promotes digestive health!" (source).
Chlorophyll's structure is also very similar to that of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen throughout the body and since chlorophyll has properties similar to hemoglobin, along with hemoglobin, it also helps maintain the health of the blood (source).
Parsley is also high in rutin. Rutin is a bioflavanoid. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer properties and also is shown to help protect the liver. Rutin is also shown to help with absorption of Vitamin C into the body.
According to one study discussing the bioavailability of quercetin, rutin is shown to be "a better source of quercetin in dogs than in other species" (source) because of it's higher bioavailability.
"Parsley also includes large amounts of vitamin K, along with healthy amounts of vitamins C and A, and iron...Parsley is considered a powerful diuretic, which may help arthritic dogs suffering from poor waste elimination (Herbs for Pets by Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff). In addition, the large amounts of vitamin K in itself may be helpful against rheumatoid arthritis since, according to the Arthritis Foundation, studies suggest the vitamin destroys inflammatory cells contributing to the disease" (source).
BOK CHOY & CABBAGE
"Bok choy contains a wealth of vitamins C, A, and K, and excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron. Vitamin A, for instance, is essential for a properly functioning immune system, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals. Bok choy supplies potassium for healthy muscle and nerve function, and vitamin B6 for carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism" (source).
Just like bok choy (asian cabbage), green and purple cabbage also contains a plethora of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and has anti-cancer effects. While purple and green cabbage have varying levels of nutrients, both have a good amount of vitamins K, C & B6, manganese, copper, folate, calcium and fiber.
Composition and antioxidant activity of kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala) raw and cooked
Characterization and quantification of flavanoids and hydroxycinammic acids in curly kale
Oral biolavailability of quercetin from different quercetin glycosides in dogs
An evidence-based systematic review of Chloropyll
Raw meat based diet influences faecal microbiome and end products of fermentation in healthy dogs
Frozen Vegetable Purée Recipe
Always lightly cook, ferment, or purée vegetables for your dog. Doing this increases the digestibility and absorption of nutrients into the body. It is important not to feed too much of these types of vegetables. I feed about 2 tbs (frozen purée) every other day to my larger dogs, and 1 tbs 3 times a week to my smaller dog. Feeding too much of these vegetables can result in thyroid dysfunction, although you would have to feed large amounts everyday for a long period of time to see this, it is important to know not to overfeed these kinds of leafy green vegetables. Adding raw goat milk can also help with the digestibility of these types of vegetables.
DISCLAIMER: It is always important to do your own research first in regards to raw feeding or feeding fresh foods for your pet (dog or cat). Every animal is different! What may work great for some may not work great for others. It is important to know that if you are a beginner at raw feeding, there are tons of ways to feed fresh raw foods to your pets (commercially prepared, freeze dried etc.). Starting out can be a little difficult, so if you do your research accordingly, then you'll have more knowledge about EVERY aspect of raw feeding. Remember, if you are not ready to feed a raw diet to your pets, wait to transition and utilize the help of experienced raw feeders, connect with integrative veterinarians, read books geared towards a holistic dog diet and gain knowledge from all of your research so you can effectively give your dog the nutrition it needs to thrive. "The Raw Fed Pet" site is only for informational/educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.
Did you know?
GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS ARE GREAT FOR JOINT HEALTH?
"In addition to their inflammatory healing properties, these mussels are considered a superfood because they contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, enzymes, and many more nutrients" (source).