My human likes to experiment with food. She experiments on her dogs and her horses and herself. Sometimes the new foods she tests on us are pretty revolting—not just in taste but also texture. What in the world made her think I would like a slippery pear slice? I spit it out on the floor. Then she tried to give me a strawberry as a treat.
“That’s not a treat,” I informed her. “That’s a red, icky thing.”
What I didn’t realize, is that she often mixes these weird ingredients into my food bowl, and honestly, I can’t tell they’re in there when blended with raw ground meat, some chopped cauliflower, pureed squash and a little raw goats’ milk. She’s clever, that one.
Recently she has been experimenting with sprouts. She offered me a pinch of broccoli sprouts; I took one whiff and said, “No thanks.” She then proceeded to take that pinch and mix it with the other foods in my bowl, and of course I gulped it all down.
You might ask: Why would your human give a dog sprouts?
Well, we canines do love some green food, especially the live kind. There is a place by our pond at home where the best grasses grow. The pack and I love to grab a few bites of those grasses in the spring and summer.
There are a number of theories as to why dogs eat grass. A study conducted on 1500 dogs showed that only 8% of dogs showed signs of illness prior to grass-eating, and 22% vomited after eating grass. The dogs that appeared sick before grass-eating were the ones most likely to vomit after—as if they were intentionally using grass as an emetic. However, a large proportion of the dogs in the study ate grass, didn’t vomit, and were not ill to begin with.
Another popular theory is that a dietary deficiency leads to grass-eating. In the same 1500-dog study, however, they were fed a variety of different diets and no correlation was found between what the diet was comprised of and the likelihood of grass-eating.
Personally? I think we like to eat grass on occasion because our ancestors, the wolves, ate plant matter in the intestines of their prey. We dogs are just answering an old ancestral calling.
As it is wintertime, there is not much grass to munch on. Even though I’m down here in Wellington, Florida, where there’s green stuff that people call grass, it really isn’t grass, and it tastes horrible.
So my human’s solution was to try the sprouts: broccoli and alfalfa.
Benefits of broccoli sprouts
- Active, live enzymes
- Glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate compound that can help protect against molecular damage from cancer-causing chemicals
- Sulforaphane, which can block carcinogen-activating enzymes and is considered to be a cancer-preventive compound
Benefits of alfalfa sprouts
- Active, live enzymes
- A blend of nutrients including vitamin K for healthy bones, calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin C, and as much carotene as carrots
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
Sprouts are also low in calories; a quarter-cup of alfalfa sprouts is 2.5 calories, so for the dogs watching their waistlines, this is good news!
We don’t get sprouts every meal or even every day. We get them three or four times a week in one of our meals. They are not the base of our diet, but simply another component of our diet. My human says we probably won’t get sprouts come spring, because we will have our pond grass to nibble on again.
If your sprouts are store-bought, don’t forget to thoroughly rinse them. Or, you can sprout the seeds yourself at home. You’ll find an excellent website for sprouting supplies and seeds here.
Sprouts. They aren’t just for hippies anymore.