Fermented foods have been around for centuries. The fermenting process is an ancient way to preserve foods. We often think of fermented foods as tangy or even sour. When it comes to health benefits, fermented foods are good for digestion and have nutrients that promote good health.
You may be surprised to learn that fermented foods are actually good for your dog! It is easy to make fermented food for your own health as well as the care of your dog's diet. Fermented foods can be an acquired taste for both human and canine. Whether a sprinkling of sauerkraut or a dollop of yogurt, a taste of fermented food is good for both you and your dog.
Signs Dogs Do Not Like Fermented Foods
Fermented foods typically have a sour or tangy flavor. Most dogs will eat just about anything and everything. It is likely that your dog will lap up whatever is placed in the food dish without hesitation. Dogs will eat what they were exposed to as pups.
If you think you might want to add some fermented food to your dog's diet, the younger they are when you begin exposing them to the food, the more likely the dog will adapt to the taste of fermented food. Some dogs can be picky eaters and they may not like the flavors that are typical with fermented foods. These dogs will show you that they do not like their food in a number of ways including their carriage and reactions.
If a dog does not like something, they will let you know in a variety of ways. Your dog may just refuse to eat the food and leave it in the dog dish. You might find your dog sniffing the food and pushing the food about with their nose. Your dog may give it a lick. If they do not like the food, you may see head shaking.
The food refusal may even have the dog looking scared. Your dog may tuck the tail and sulk or cower away from the feeding area. Your dog may stare at you with sad eyes and even run and hide.
There are signs that you can watch for that signal your pet's good health. You should be aware of these signs of a healthy dog as a check on how your pet is feeling and how well you are doing at taking care of your pet's needs. If you know when your dog is well, you can better discern if your dog is feeling ill and get medical care.
A healthy dog will have good energy. Your job as the leader is to provide your dog with the resources for good health that include food, shelter, safety, exercise, routines, and a caring relationship.
The History of Fermented Foods
Dogs are known for their indiscriminate taste. When compared to humans, dogs have fewer taste receptors. Taste evolved to protect mammals from consuming dangerous substances. All mammals share in their ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter and salt.
The dog has special receptors for water to help the animal to digest the salts and proteins in meat. Dogs in the wild will eat fruits and forage. They are omnivores and they like sweet tastes.
When an animal is eating a kill, there are fermented foods in the prey's stomach. Cats and dogs will eat those fermented contents. While it may seem peculiar to feed fermented foods to our domesticated pets, these foods actually have health benefits and mirror their dietary experience in nature.
The Science of Fermented Foods in Dogs
Fermentation involves a microorganism that breaks down the food to a state of pre-digestion. The fermentation of foods imitates the digestion of food in the tracts of small prey that dogs and cats would eat in the wild.
Fermented foods have been shown to have many benefits that include improved digestion, increased availability of nutrients, fighting cancer, and providing beneficial bacteria to the gut. The immune system resides in the gut, even for dogs. When it comes to supporting digestion, fermented vegetables produced by probiotic starter cultures can produce 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria.
Fermented vegetables are also potent chelators and detoxifiers. They help rid your pet's body of a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals. The process produces vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K2, and enzymes, choline (which balances and nourishes the blood), and acetylcholine. Lactic acid from the process is renowned for fighting cancer cells without hurting healthy cells.
Vegetables to ferment may include cabbage, beets, or zucchini. While fermented vegetables are good for your pet, remember that you can not feed your dog yeast dough as the yeast can expand and twist the intestines, potentially killing your dog.
Training Your Dog to Eat Fermented Food
There are a number of recipes available for how to make fermented vegetables for your dog. The taste can be sour or tangy, which the dog may not like. Never force your dog to eat something. Instead, always use patience and go slowly when introducing something new to your dog.
Make sure the food you are feeding your dog is fresh and has been properly prepared and stored. The fermented food does not replace the need for dog food and a balanced diet. Rather, it is a supplement.
Introduce the fermented food gradually. Start with very small amounts and build up gradually to 1 to 3 teaspoons per 20 pounds of body weight. Add the fermented food to the dog's familiar food in the dish. Watch your dog's reactions to the new food. Also be observant to any changes in your dog's stool or urination.
Written by a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 05/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020