As we launch Foodie Fridays, we’ll be giving you great recipes for the whole family that include fruits and vegetables for dogs (and sometimes cats, too). Please keep in mind that any new food can create digestive issues, for humans or dogs.
Therefore, we suggest you offer these recipes to your four-legged friend in very small portions initially, especially if fruits and veggies haven’t been a regular part of their daily diet. Depending on your canine’s size, a teaspoon to a tablespoon portion may be the digestible treat amount! Cats have more specific needs, so these recipes may not be perfect for kitty.
Refrain from adding herbs and spices, unless you know certainly that they are safe for dogs. And always, always, reduce or eliminate salty products.
Here’s a list of Veggies and Fruits that knowledgeable sources agree are dog-friendly (and many are cat-friendly too!). Keep this list available for when you’re feeling creative in the kitchen!
Vegetables for Dogs
- Bell peppers (red, green, orange, yellow)
- Brussel Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato
Consider steaming or boiling cruciferous offerings like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, as they are much easier to digest when cooked. Fermenting pre-digests veggies and is a great option as well!
Unsafe Veggies for Dogs
- Onions, chives
- Wild mushrooms
- Corn – tends to be an allergen
- Potatoes – green, unripe, raw
Fruits for Dogs
Citrus fruits like lemons, lime and grapefruit and also persimmons can often cause upset. Peel fruits and remove rinds. Discard seeds and pits, as those often are poisonous.
Unsafe Fruits for Dogs
- Cherries – pit, stem, leaves
- Apple seeds
- Apricot pit, stems, leaves
- Tomato plants
I’m sure you know that here at Vital Planet we love bacteria! Good bacteria. Probiotics! Today we’d like to share a dish that will support every body’s need for probiotics. (humans and four-legged companions as well). That’s right – we’re fermenting!
Fermented foods have a lot of things going for them!
- They’re filled with healthy lactobacillus bacteria which are a product of the fermentation process
- Fermenting breaks down the fibrous parts of plants like cruciferous veggies and asparagus, making them much more digestible for everyone.
- Fermentation imitates how plant foods are digested in the GI tracts of the small prey animals that dogs and cats eat in the wild.
- Therefore, fermented foods are like eating pre-digested fruits and veggies.
When Brenda filmed her PBS show, Skinny Gut Diet, she invited Donna Schwenk to the event to share her expertise in fermenting foods. What a lovely lady! Check out her website, Cultured Food Life, here.
Our recipe this week is Donna’s Orangeade Kraut, available in her book Cultured Food for Health. This delicious kraut will please all with its sweet and sour taste. The only difference between her recipe and ours is that we use less salt (to be even more dog-friendly). When decreasing salt, a product called Starter Culture is necessary to ensure a healthy fermentation process. The Starter Culture also removes pesticides and toxins. We actually like to include this in all our fermenting projects.
Interesting note – the small amount of salt that is included when fermenting vegetables is largely consumed as food by the lactobacillus bacteria. This tiny amount of salt will not harm your dog in the least.
Donna’s Orangeade Kraut for All!
- 1/4 teaspoon Starter Culture plus 1/2 cup water
- 1 small head cabbage (~1 pound)
- 1 apple, unpeeled and cored
- 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon Celtic Salt
- Stir together the culture and water. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the other ingredients – around 10 minutes.
- Remove and discard the outer leaves of the cabbage. Finely shred the cabbage and apple, using a food processor or hand shredder.
- Mix the salt with the cabbage and apple.
- Slice the orange into thin slices, removing the rind. Line the inside of the jar with the orange slices (or just layer them anywhere inside the jar).
- Pack the cabbage and apple mixture into the jar.
- Add the starter culture. Then fill the jar with filtered water, leaving 2 to 3 inches of headspace to let the kraut bubble and expand as it ferments.
- Seal the container and let it sit on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 6 days.
- Check the kraut every day to make sure it is fully submerged. If it has risen above the water, simply push it down so it is fully covered again. If white spots of yeast have formed on any unsubmerged kraut, do not worry. Remember, this isn’t harmful. Just scoop out the yeast and kraut it’s on and push the rest back under the water.
- When the kraut is done fermenting, place it in the refrigerator.
Note – this kraut can be kept in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 9 months.
Fermented foods – a healthful acquired taste
Vegetables, when fermented, are sometimes a bit of a foreign taste to many of us. We’re not used to “sour” in our American diet. That’s why we recommend initially including these foods in small amounts, as condiments. Yes, only offer small amounts to your dogs too. As you enjoy this beautiful recipe you created in your own kitchen, feel very happy that you are rebuilding your microbiomes with happy lactobacillus bacteria!
Fermented foods do not take the place of your human probiotic supplement for the following reason. While lactobacillus bacteria are very healthy for you, bifidobacteria are ten times more prevalent in your intestine. Bifidobacteria are not produced in the fermentation process. If you begin fermenting, be sure and choose a probiotic supplement that includes plenty of bifidobacteria to help truly balance your gut and add years of vitality to your lives!