Sprouts are good things that come in small packages! Certain seeds, grains and lentils explode with nutrition when they germinate.
Did you know that those sprouts you enjoy in your salads or sandwiches are also good for your dog? When seeds, grains and lentils sprout, an explosion of nutrients is released that would otherwise be unavailable for absorption by the canine digestive system. These nutrients can help optimize your dog’s health, and are even beneficial for a range of canine health issues.
Packed with goodness
Among other things, flaxseed, barley seed, mung beans and others contain good bacterial flora that produce nutrients for the new plant. For example, analyses show there are millions of good bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium in sprouted flax, and none in regular un-sprouted flax. When the seeds germinate, the probiotics and other nutrients are available to any living being that consumes the sprouts, including your dog. Sprouted grains and seeds also provide prebiotics, food for the probiotics. In fact, the prebiotics in these seeds increase by over 1000% upon sprouting.
And that’s not all sprouts offer. Germination increases enzyme availability by 50% to 900%. As well, vitamins A, B, C, and E are increased by 20% to 9000%! Healthy Omega-3 fats, calcium and amino acids stored in seeds are released at mega levels upon germination, as compared to their un-sprouted counterparts. It’s no wonder that sprouted seeds, grains and legumes have been touted as super foods, and are called functional foods.
Sprouts can be beneficial for dogs with any of the following conditions:
- Dental disease
- Chronic ear infections
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Chronic bladder infections
While some natural pet food companies are now using sprouted seeds as an ingredient in their products (see sidebar), you can also sprout your own to provide a fresh, healthy topping for your dog’s meals – and for your own salads and sandwiches!
How to grow your own sprouts
1. Choose a glass jar with a lid.
2. Drill small holes in the lid.
3. Put some raw flax or barley seeds, lentils, mung beans or others in the bottom of the jar and cover with water to soak for 12 hours. Germination will begin and the seeds will swell.
4. After 12 hours, rinse the seeds in room temperature water. Drain the water out of the holes in the lid, leaving the seeds damp, but not swimming in water.
5. Repeat the rinsing process at least once every 12 hours until the sprouts are ready to be used – usually about two to four days.
6. Feed the sprouts right away, or store them in the fridge. They will last approximately one week.
Ideally, combine your home-grown sprouts with a species-appropriate raw diet. However, sprouts will enhance the nutritive value of any pet food. Begin with a small amount (1 tsp for a small dog, 1 tbsp for a larger dog), and monitor his stool production.
Fresh vs. synthetic nutrients
Commercial pet food manufacturers have recognized that their diets are deficient in live, whole food nutritional components, so they add synthetic, laboratory-derived probiotics or vitamins to their formulations. However, well-informed animal guardians understand that this approach to nutrition is woefully inadequate and may even be harmful.
Many natural pet food manufacturers have been successful at developing products that contain whole food-sourced and viable nutritional elements, which when consumed can actually provide the intended healthful result. Some are also incorporating sprouted seeds into their formulas. This allows them to manufacture truly balanced diets without the addition of potentially toxic synthetic vitamin/ mineral additives and weak, useless probiotics.
Products containing sprouted seeds ideally go through extensive testing to ensure safety and effectiveness. Raw seeds must contain no harmful bacteria and optimally are certified organic.
Diets and menu plans for dogs need to provide the nutritional building blocks for healthy tissues without the damaging side effects created by the processing of fresh ingredients. Sprouts are just one more functional food that helps create and maintain optimal health for your best friend.