Whether you home-prepare your dog’s food, or give him a premium packaged or raw frozen diet, this easy-to-make veggie and fruit mix will add some extra nutrition to his meals.
Just like us, dogs should eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits with their meals. Whether home-prepared or purchased, high quality whole food diets offer complete nutrition on their own, but adding some extra goodness certainly doesn’t hurt! This raw fruit and veggie mix can be made at home, then portioned and frozen for daily use right through the fall and winter.
Shopping for produce
If possible, select organic vegetables and fruit to keep chemical exposure to a minimum. Even better, visit your local farmers’ market for fresh organic vegetables that support local businesses. Buy produce that’s in season, and ask how it was grown if you’re not sure. Carrots, sweet potatoes and squash are good choices, as are dark green cruciferous vegetables. The latter are nature’s powerhouse foods; they are packed with essential nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Kale, collard greens and broccoli are great examples of cruciferous vegetable that, when pulped into a mixture, provide amazing benefits for dogs. Pick up a few healthy fruits too, such as apples, blueberries and pears, which are packed with antioxidants and flavonoids.
Purchasing in bulk is cheaper, especially when certain vegetables and fruits are in season. Don’t worry about purchasing too much; once you’ve made your mix, you’ll be freezing it in portions and serving it for months to come. Basically, whenever you find locally-grown organic vegetables and fruits, grab them! Just be sure to avoid onions, grapes and raisins – these are toxic to dogs.
Making your mix
Once home with your produce, set up your kitchen for a grinding extravaganza. Dogs are unable to digest whole raw vegetables and fruits because these foods have a thick cellulose covering. To break up the cellulose, it’s best to pulp the produce; this way, your dog is able to digest and utilize essential nutrients while still benefiting from the raw fiber. Start by:
- Cleaning all vegetables and fruits with a chemical-free produce wash, and rinsing thoroughly.
- Removing any thick fibrous ends and dead leaves from vegetables; halving and removing any seeds and stems from fruits.
- Placing all washed produce on a towel to air dry, while setting up an area to grind and pack your mixture.
There are multiple ways to pulp produce, with food processors being the easiest and least expensive. Some people use heavy-duty juicers, which quickly and efficiently grind dense vegetables to a fine consistency.
Grind each fruit and vegetable separately and combine them in a
large bowl. Include both the liquid and pulp for a thick, soupy yet easily digestible grind. The mix should resemble a thick gazpacho soup, or a dense well-minced salsa.
Storing and serving
Once all your vegetables and fruits have been pulped, dumped into a large bowl and mixed, it’s time to portion out your dog’s servings. If you home-prepare his food, assume that 1/5 of each meal will consist of the veggie mixture; if he is eating a packaged diet that’s already nutritionally complete, you may just want to add a small amount of the mix to his food each day, depending on his size and how much he eats at each meal. Divide the portions into plastic Ziploc bags, including no more than what will cover five days in each bag. You can also bag the mix in daily portions, if you wish, but this is a lot more time-consuming.
Leave one bag out for current use, and put the rest in the freezer. Once frozen, the mix will easily last six months, which means your dog can enjoy his fruits and vegetables even when they’re long out of season.
When getting a new bag out of the freezer, let it thaw, then scoop out a serving to suit your dog’s needs or tastes. Zip the bag up again and put it in the fridge – it will keep five days once out of the freezer.
Most dogs will readily lap up this healthy fruit and veggie mix, especially if it’s topped with a small dollop of raw unfiltered honey!
Fanna Easter is a freelance writer and professional dog trainer; she has earned several national animal behavior certifications (CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, ABCDT-L2). Fanna owns Positive Pooch Dog Training, and shares her home with her beloved bull terrier, Rottweiler and her husband.