Dogs are natural foragers! Learn what foods can help your loved one…
Today Milo and I went on a Wild Foraging Workshop in Arley, Cheshire.
This may have been a workshop aimed at humans, to get us back to nature and the source of natural food. Picked as our ancestors would have done back in the hunter/gatherer days. But I wanted to explore this workshop from the eyes of my dog…
Dogs have been natural foragers themselves for thousands of years. A versatile opportunist, dogs’ ancestors picked berries just as us humans did. And when you see your dog eating grass, do not be fooled that this is without awareness or reason. Animals are far more cunning than humans when it comes to eating and knowing what’s good for them and what their bodies are asking for.
That’s not to say there are not some modern dogs who like humans, have lost connection with their innate wisdom and who do eat things without awareness or need. But that is another topic.
A well-balanced dog will seek out tree bark as aspirin for arthritis, grass to make their tummies feel better and berries packed full of vitamin C when they are low on this in their diet. But like any animal, if you are feeding your dog unnatural foods, processed, bagged or canned “dog food” – full of preservatives, unnecessary carbs, high in sugar – then they too will start running around like crazed, hyper-active children who have just eaten a macdonalds and a coca-cola to boot! Have you noticed your dog seeking out the next sugar rush?
(Hint: if your dog runs for the bread dropped for birds or even eats dog poop, then they are probably addicted to sugar from processed foods and seeking out their next hit).
Take a dog off this type of food and onto real food, for long enough and the cravings will diminish.
You can put a plate full of white bread down in the park and Milo will walk past it with little to no interest…
I know from feeding Milo that he is low on Vitamin C at the moment in his diet. He is not a big fruit and veg kind of guy. So when I offered him elderberries (packed full of Vit C) out on the forage I was delighted that he took interest and immediately starting munching. Vitamin C is great for the immune system and especially in older dogs who need the added boost. (See Milo’s article on the immune system and allergies too). Clever dog – proud mum!
NOTE: unripe elderberries are not good for dogs or humans and please don’t feed the leaves, bark, roots and buds. x
Passing a hawthorne tree I pocketed some of the berries and leaves as hawthorne is used as a natural tonic for the heart and a support for heart disease in dogs. Milo can look forward to some of those!
If you have read the above and are shaking your head in disbelief, then I thank you for reading this far. I know there are many people out there that feel strongly that dogs should eat “dog food” not “human food”.
But let me please challenge this notion. Dog food is not DOG FOOD! Pet food is a human-made product. The convenience factor made this product a success and soon people changed the way they fed their dogs to suit their modern lifestyle and time pressures. And there was a LOT of money to be had in this new dog product. A multi-million pound business that has even infiltrated into our veterinarian practices, so that nutrition for vets is now taught by the very people who manufacture and produce dog food. (Luckily more and more vets are coming back round to real food even at a cost to their pockets). Marketing companies have a field day using words like “natural”, “nutritious”, “balanced”. Who can we trust?!
Trust your common sense and your intuition. Would you eat the same food every single day of your life? Would you feed your dog MacDonalds every day? Would you take real natural food and cook it at high temperatures that kill the very nutrients we seek to eat. Then add colouring (to make it look ok to humans who buy it), sugar (to make it taste better to dogs), refined carbs (essential to make it stick together), and don’t forget the synthetic supplements to make sure that it still meets with nutrition standards. See what you think…
But if it is easy, us humans don’t always want to hear the facts or change our ways. We too have lost touch with what is real.
I myself have only moved Milo off processed food after my own health scare and change of diet. If processed food was ageing me, causing me allergies and pain, depleting my immune system. What was it doing to my dog who I love so much…
Wise Milo would like to add these words:
Every day I wake up and look forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every meal different, every meal a joy to eat and savour. A wonderful variety of taste and smell.
I get to crunch real food, tear it, get my paws either side and use my teeth to rip it and juice it in my mouth and swallow, all the while my taste buds are in ecstacy. I feel like a real dog, back to my primal nature and this means I have a sense of wholeness and feel happier.
It take me longer to eat and I eat more slowly than other dogs I know. I don’t need to rush my food. I feel satisfied when I have finished my bowl and I don’t pester mum for extras or run up to strangers demanding treats. I don’t yowl or whine when dinner is 5 minutes late. Poor doggies.
I have enough energy for all the activities in my day. I feel calm and good about myself. My skin feels good, I smell good. This is a dogs life and I love my mum for giving me the very best and ignoring the antiquated vet we once went to who scoffed at the idea of a dog eating “human” food. Human food???? Food on this planet is for us all, not just humans.
Why don’t humans eat “dog food”!
Dog food should really be classed as human food since you made it! Now, that’s not to say that once in a while I might not like to scoff down some of that canned dog food, Snowy down the road eats every day. Who doesn’t like a MacDonalds now and again. But I wouldn’t swap my daily diet for that, I’m far too clever…
If you are worried here is a list of plants your dog should avoid to help you on your own adventures and wild foraging days: www.earthclinic.com/pets/poisonous_plants.html