Organic food on the table is growing nationwide, with nearly 4% of all grocery sales being some form of natural foods. This trend is spilling over the plate and into doggie’s dinner dish, with over 50 American companies claiming to make 100% organic food for dogs, and others providing an organic branch from their regularly produced foods.
While most dogs will eagerly eat whatever lands on the dining room floor, it’s important to know what garden items are actually good for our best friends. The North Carolina landscape presents a cornucopia of items that work well in the dog’s regular mix of daily meaty meals. The AKC lists an amazing line of garden treats that make dogs happy, and help keep them healthy. They also include foods dogs cannot eat.
Pumpkins grow perfectly in most well-drained North Carolina soils, where the pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. Grown during the warmer summer months after soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees, these gourds are the perfect fall treat. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, iron, potassium, as well as vitamins A, C, and E. It is good for a dog’s digestive system, and is often recommended when a dog has an unfortunate bout of diarrhea. The AKC recommends organic pumpkin for dogs, as store bought often has added unnecessary sugars.
Blueberries and Blackberries
According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, the local soil is acidic enough to grow beautiful blueberry and blackberry bushes, both which are good for dogs. These fruits are worth the extra care they require, as the mid-to-late summertime harvest they provide also helps build antioxidants for the whole family. Berries add fiber, vitamins, and work well as a training tool. Instead of using store-bought treats, use organically grown berries. They can be available year-round with proper freezing techniques.
North Carolina grows a limited amount of apple types. Varieties that do well in the area are Delicious, Rome, and Golden Delicious, though other types are finding their way into the landscape. There is a recent upswing in the Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Fuji, and Gold Rush apple varieties. Dogs benefit from all apple types, gaining vitamins A and C and fiber. They are a low-fat food, beneficial to older dogs who work harder to maintain a healthy weight and often suffer joint problems. With the seeds and core removed, they are the perfect treat.
Carrots grow wild in North Carolina, proving that this root vegetable does well here. Plant them in late August, weed and water often, waiting only 90 days for a bountiful harvest. Carrots provide beta-carotene, fiber, and a good teeth cleanse for dogs. They can be frozen for a hot day, or enjoyed directly from the garden. Remove the green tops before grinding into dog food or using as a treat.
These wonderfully juicy fruits grow moderately well in North Carolina, though they tend to be high maintenance. Disease resistant rootstock fares better overall, according to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Farmers who successfully grow peaches find that they make wonderful additions to dog food mixes. When the pit is removed, peaches provide fiber, vitamin A, and help dogs fight infections. Use caution, however, as the pit contains deadly cyanide. Additionally, only organic peaches are recommended, as canned varieties contain too much sugary syrup for a dog’s health.
Discussing organic dog food options with the dog’s regular vet is the best starting point for feeding times. However, these wonderful fruits and vegetables, which grow readily in the North Carolina soil, help provide a well-rounded meal when mixed with proper meats.
Author: Jenny Holt
Jennifer Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two, who loves nothing more than to play, “where has the cat hidden itself now.”