Fruit and Vegetables
A small amount of vegetable added to a dog's diet for a particular purpose can be beneficial. Sluggish bowels or constipation for example, are often helped by a little chopped, raw organic broccoli being sprinkled occasionally on meals.
Adding fruit and vegetables routinely however, or in significant quantities (10% - 20% or more of the diet) laregly adds indigestible bulk to the diet. Many also cause problems for many pets (see below).
This is why our raw food is fruit and vegetable free, as are our home-cooked diets, unless a little organic produce will help to support optimum health in a specific area, for a particular dog or cat, in which case they can be added separately.
The Pesticide Action Network recently analysed 12 years of residue data published by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) and found 123 different pesticides, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, disruption of the hormone system and others. And in many cases, multiple residues were found on the produce. This is an additional area of serious concern, as we have little understanding of the effect of such cocktails of chemicals on health, particularly when ingested daily for long periods.
These are compelling reasons why non-organic fruit and / or vegetables are best not included in raw or commercial dog and cat food.
An increasing number of pets today are sensitive to a wide range of dietary allergens, which can cause a number of health problems. These commonly include itching and inflammation of the skin, repeated ear infections, yeast overgrowths, anal sac dysfunction, bowel upsets and other conditions.
For a long time, animal proteins were thought to be the only culprits. In recent years however, it has become clear that fruit and vegetables (along with grains, oils, herbs and other ingredients) are allergenic too, and are equally capable of causing adverse reactions in sensitive pets.
As a consequence, the greater the number of fruits and vegetables in the diet (including those in prepared dog and cat food) the higher the risk that one or more will trigger dietary related disturbances to health.
The sugars found in most fruit and many 'sweet' vegetables such as carrots, beets, onions, peas, sweet corn, canned pumpkin, winter squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and others, fuel the growth of yeasts in the gut, on the skin, down the ear and elsewhere. This being the case it is advisable for any pet prone to yeast problems to avoid these in the diet.
Dogs and cats lack the digestive enzyme cellulase, which is needed to break down fibrous plant cell walls. Most fruit and vegetables therefore, unless cooked and / or macerated first, will pass though the intestine without being digested and pass out the other end largely unchanged. (Who hasn't seen corn kernels or cubes of carrot in stools?).
In this way they act as a fibrous filler, providing a fraction of the nutrients nutritionally superior and easier to digest alternatives do, such as Vitality.
Fruit and vegetables 100 years ago, were slow growing, relatively small and rich in essential minerals and trace elements drawn from fertile soil. By comparison, most modern day fruit and vegetables are fast growing, large varieties reared on soil depleted by decades of intensive farming, which has resulted in a marked decline in their nutrient content, and nutritional value.
In contrast to this, carefully selected wholefoods provide a rich supply of micronutrients essential for maximising health.