How to get more of this superfood in your pet’s diet
Let’s face it. We should all eat more kale. This dark leafy green vegetable is packed with vitamins A, K and C; antioxidants like quercetin; canine cancer-preventative and eye-protective phytonutrients, and key minerals like manganese, magnesium and potassium.
If you take a gander at most pet food ingredient labels you will find them practically devoid of anything green. Why? Well, it has infinitely more to do with cost and consistency of the paste that manufacturers turn into kibble, than the health of your dog.
Most kibble meets AAFCO’s nutritional requirements for a Complete and Balanced diet through supplements. Mother Nature intended for all beings to get our nutrients through whole foods, not through man-made vitamin and mineral powders!
Dr. Nate Heilman, DVM in his species appropriate formulas for a well-balanced homemade diet for dogs and for cats, recommends that dark green vegetables compose approximately 20% - 30% of a healthy dog’s diet, and 21% of a healthy cat’s diet. For a 60 pound dog, that percentage averages out to be around 9 ounces daily (by weight, not volume).
Cruciferous Vegetables and Your Dog's Digestion
One thing to keep in mind as you introduce vegetables to your dog’s diet is that dogs do not make cellulase, the enzyme needed to break down the cellulose in vegetables. One of the fastest ways to an upset belly is to feed your dog a bunch of raw vegetables. In the wild, the lack of a cellulase enzyme doesn’t really matter, as canines often get their greens from the digestive tracks of prey - where the vegetables are already broken down.
So how do you help your dog digest vegetable matter? Simple – in one of four ways.
- Puree the raw veggies it in a blender like a VitaMix. (A food processor does not get the vegetables fine enough.)
- Coarsely chop the veggies, put them in a container and stick them in the freezer for a few hours.
- Gently steam them just until wilted (for greens) or you can pierce them with a fork (for veggies like sweet potato or carrot).
- Include some enzymes with their veggies; your vet should be able to recommend or provide these.
Three Crazy for Kale Treats
So how can you get your dog to go crazy for kale? We’ve got three great ideas that should do the trick. You can substitute the kale in these recipes for any dark green leafy vegetable – like spinach or Swiss chard, or mustard greens as healthy animals should be fed a rotation of foods, instead of the same-old-thing all life long.
Kale Kong Stuffers
This is a super solution for puppies or high energy dogs looking for entertainment.
4 leaves of lacinato (aka black or dinosaur) kale.
1 Whole Egg (the eggshell is an excellent source of calcium!)
1 pinch dried ginger (optional) (Ginger is high in manganese and supportive of healthy joints!)
Directions: Into a medium sized bowl crack the egg and put the yolk and white. Set shell aside.
Coarsely chop the kale leaves. Into the bowl of a food processor, add kale leaves, egg shell, Hula Lula Snowflakes and the pinch of ginger. Process until everything is finely minced. Empty contents of bowl into the bowl containing the egg. With your hands or a fork, thoroughly combine ingredients. Stuff mixture into a clean Kong(s). Place Kong in freezer for a couple hours. Remove and treat!
Crazy Kale Crackers
1 pound lean ground beef lightly cooked and drained of grease. (You can substitute turkey, chicken, pork or lamb based on the seasons, weather patterns and your dog’s constitution).
6 oz kale, (either frozen chopped kale or gently steamed kale)
¼ cup cooked sweet potato
½ tsp cold-pressed coconut oil (We love Jarrows brand for it rich and full aroma!)
Directions: Combine all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and process until the mixture holds together. Using a common teaspoon, scoop small amounts on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press the scoops with your fingers into flat disks.
Use the dehydration setting on your convection oven, or a regular oven preheated to 170 degrees, or a countertop dehydrator following the instructions for dehydrating jerky. Place the baking sheet into the oven and dehydrate for three hours. Turn the disks over and continue dehydrating for three more hours, or until the disks feel dry and easily crumble. Let cool and then treat! (Extras can be stored in an airtight container for one week).
Homemade Dog Food with Kale
No doubt. Kibble is convenient. The problem is that the budget brands are lousy with inedible feed-grade ingredients, and many super-premium brands are loaded with starch. What’s a parent to do? The answer: make you own!
We’ve posted fantastic recipes for healthy diets for dogs in our blog. They're high-protein, gluten free and grain free, like Winter Warmer with Lamb and Kale. It follows the veterinary guidance and formula from of Dr. Nate Heilman. You can easily turn this recipe into your own kibble for dinner-in-a-pinch, or a snack on-the-go. Simply follow the directions in the previous recipe (Crazy Kale Crackers) for dehydration directions.
Also, if you have a non-stick cooling rack, we recommend placing the rack on the sheet pan and putting your scoops onto the cooling rack before putting it into your oven or dehydrator. It will help the air circulate around the food and save you from having to turn over the little bites mid-way. Enjoy!
Here at Goodness Gracious, we make healthy, human edible pet treats – including the Hula Lula Snowflakes mentioned in these recipes. Our Snowflakes are the delicious little crumbs and bits from our single ingredient jerky dog treats that are always USA sourced and USA made with human grade ingredients. We are small-batch handcrafters, and we understand the value in creating healthy choices that dogs love to eat and parents love to give.
Show your love by developing healthy eating habits with nutritious human grade foods and treats. Come visit today to learn more about our products.