Fresh Salad for Dogs
Add fresh ingredients, extra nutrients, roughage and taste
to your dog's diet
MetPet.com Staff Writer
Making a fresh salad a few times a week is one of the easiest ways to add
extra nutrition to your dog's diet. It is fast, relatively inexpensive and
may provide phytonutrients not present in commercial dog foods and dog
treats. Phytonutrients are organic compounds found mostly in plants that
are not considered 'essential' to life but may be beneficial.
Phytonutrients, sometimes called phytochemicals, may aid in preventing
diseases and disorders such as cancer, heart disease, inflammation, etc.
Making a fresh salad for the dog may also encourage people to shop for
and make more salads for ourselves. Since few people manage to eat the
recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day, every little bit
Shopping for Vegetables
The base of this salad is green, leafy vegetables mostly in the lettuce
family due to their easy availability. We have found that our dogs prefer
greener, richer and more nutrient dense vegetables. They prefer broccoli
crowns to iceberg lettuce and zucchini squash to cucumbers. Perhaps it is
taste or perhaps they know something about nutrition that we do not.
The easiest additions to salad are lettuces such as romaine, butter,
green leaf or red leaf. Dogs tend to leave iceberg lettuce in the bowl
unless it is shredded. Other additions are steamed or finely chopped
broccoli, squash, celery, carrots, english cucumbers, green and red cabbage,
peas, spinach, green beans, alfalfa sprouts and cauliflower.
Although we have fed our dogs broccoli, garlic and mushrooms with no
ill effects, some dogs become ill. Broccoli, in large quantities, has
been found to cause problems in large animals but there is no specific
understanding of problems in dogs. We have also not found any ill effects
with grapes and raisins but these appear to have also caused serious illness
and even death in other dogs. When in doubt, simply leave them out of the mix.
Please note our list of potentially toxic
foods for dogs available also in a printable version to put on your
We avoid onions, radishes, chives and other spicier foods in order to
avoid stomach upsets.
Onions can also cause anemia in dogs.
We tend to avoid bitter or tough greens at least initially. If your dog
enjoys salads then you might try adding cooked greens like kale or dandelion
greens. We do add the
occasional fruit such as tomatoes, apples, berries and peaches but we try to limit the amount
The nice thing about this salad is that you prepare it directly in the
dog bowl so there is no need to clean extra bowls or bottles. You can
prepare and store dressing ahead of time but it is easy enough to prepare it
fresh each time.
You will need to use a larger bowl so you can toss ingredients without
having them spill. Stainless steel bowls are easy to use but any
relatively deep bowl should do.
Clean and chop
Thoroughly wash and drain all vegetables. In particular, lettuce,
spinach and sprouts should be soaked in a tub of water and then rinsed clean
as they are difficult to clean thoroughly otherwise.
Some dogs will chomp through an entire head of raw broccoli (see our
concern about broccoli above) but most dogs prefer their raw vegetables
chopped into bite-sized pieces. Older or more finicky dogs may have to eat
vegetables lightly steamed in a steamer or in a covered container with a
small bit of water in the microwave.
One of our dogs managed to swallow an entire, peeled baby carrot. Dogs
tend to swallow things in chunks rather than grinding them in their mouths.
The baby carrot came out the other end in pretty much the same condition as
it went in. We now grind or mince tough vegetables.
None of this has to be done exclusively for the dogs because all of this
is good for human consumption as well.
Pour, mix and you're done
The following salad is enough of a meal for a large 60-70 lb dog. Cut in
half for a medium-sized dog and use a couple of scoopfuls for a small dog.
Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the bowl
Add a teaspoon of rice wine vinegar that has a milder, sweeter taste than
either white or cider vinegar. This is purely optional.
Add 2 cups of loosely packed chopped, raw or steamed (and cooled) vegetables
to the bowl
If your dog is not used to fresh vegetables, you may want to start off by
adding a half teaspoon of sugar to the oil and vinegar. Alternatively, you
can add sweet tomatoes or grated, minced or shredded baby carrots, which are
also quite sweet. Most dogs have a sweet tooth and it is an easy way to get
them to eat something new.
Substituting homemade foods for 10% of your healthy, adult dog's diet
should not cause any problems. If you enjoy making your dog's dinner, you
can continue to add more homemade and fresh foods by slowly substituting
them for your dog's current diet. Drastic changes can cause digestive
problems for your dog.
Always ask your veterinarian before making major changes to your dog's
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