Why Vegetables Can't Balance Your Dog's Homemade Dog Food - Part 1

Squash will not balance dog foodSquash will not balance dog food

I don’t hate vegetables, honest. They are a good, additional source of fiber and contain phytonutrients (antioxidants). But regardless of what you hear on talk shows, they are woefully poor sources of vitamins and minerals. 

No matter how many vegetables you include in your dog’s homemade diet, you cannot make it complete and balanced. In fact, you can promote malnutrition (I will explain later). 

Below are charts that say it all. Listed are the amounts essential daily vitamins and major minerals your dog needs in its diet. As you can see from the various charts in this post, vegetables don’t come close to providing adequate nutrition.

First lets examine spinach, how do the amounts of nutrients compare to the amount needed each day:

Only Vitamin B9 and Vitamin K show significant amounts - and that is if you could get your dog to eat ½ cup of spinach. 

How about carrots?

Carrots, it seems, have more nutrients than spinach, but still no where close to 100%.

Perhaps the very popular kale will fare better:

A higher amount of Vitamin K, yes but other nutrients severely lacking.

How about squash?

Turns out, it would not matter what other choice of vegetables or combination of vegetables the results would be the same- inadequate vitamins and minerals. 

In fact, if you added 3-4 cups of vegetables to your dog’s homemade, they probably wouldn’t eat it. But it would also add so much fiber that would interfere with the digestion and absorption of the proteins, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids that your dog would suffer from total malnutrition, not just vitamins and minerals. 

That is why it is necessary to add vitamins and minerals to homemade dog food., But not pet vitamins! Pet vitamin and mineral products are not formulated to be complete. They are formulated based on the assumption dogs are already on a complete diet and the supplements are adding extra umph. 

If the diet is balanced, these “pet vitamins” are completely unnecessary. Hearthstone Homemade offers a truly complete vitamin and mineral supplement. That is why none of our recipes require vegetables. 5 ingredients are all that is necessary for our program: meat, carbohydrate, soybean oil, fish oil and our custom vitamin/mineral formula. 

We encourage using vegetables and fruits as yummy low calorie treats for your dog!

In Part 2 of this series, we explain the biological reasons dogs can’t utilize even the minimal amounts of nutrients that are in vegetables.

Dr Ken Tudor, veterinarian who created Hearthstone Homemade


Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. In addition to co-founding a national campaign to help fight dog obesity, he developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.