There’s no bones about it, dogs love meat. So where do plants fit in to a dog’s life? Let’s just say EVERYWHERE! With over 300,000 species of higher plants, those humble green things contribute to everything from the air we breathe, the houses we sleep in, the clothes we wear, the medicine we take, and even the food your dogs eat. Most importantly, when properly integrated into a dog's diet they can contribute both directly and indirectly to helping support health and well being.
The Power of Plants
Phytochemical Complexity: Plants are naturally rich in bioactive compounds that they use for and growth and repair, metabolic well-being and to fend off diseases, among other things. When introduced into a dog’s diet, these bioactives very often act similarity. Anti-oxidant rich fruits, vitamin and mineral rich vegetables and legumes loaded with amino acids are just some of the examples, but the botanical word holds thousands of underutilized plants with beneficial bioactives: the chemical complexity and potential health benefits are endless!
Metabolic support: Plants are naturally high in fiber, low in unhealthy fats, and usually digest slowly helping to support a healthy weight and metabolic status. Furthermore, high-quality, complete, plant based proteins can be thoughtfully utilized to satisfy dogs’ dietary requirements. When integrated into a balanced diet, plants are in integral part of keeping dogs, healthy, happy and in the shape they are meant to be!
Earth-friendly: When grown following eco-conscious, organic practices, plants have minimal impact on the environment (especially when directly compared to animal farming) and can actually help improve the well-being of the planet. The phrase “Variety is the Spice is Life” is nowhere more relevant than in the way we use plants. When grown in a complex setting (as is favored by organic farmers), plants help foster the ecosystem. When part of a complex, plant-based meal, a variety of plants helps support animal and human health. Which in turn makes everyone happy!
Learn More About the Plants We Use on Benji's Farm
PEA FLOUR (Pisum sativum)
Green peas are a well known vegetable a staple of many foods. Dry peas can be made into a grain-free, gluten-free flour that boasts a complete, highly bio-available protein profile containing all essential amino acids along with a host of other phytonutrients. It has a light flavor and low glycemic index creating the perfect base for our treats.
PEANUT BUTTER (Arachis hypogaea)
Peanuts are not only delicious but also extremely nutritious! Peanut butter is high in protein and also boasts a rich flavor profile that dogs can't resist.
Although it is sweet, molasses is nothing like sugar! Molasses is a concentrated syrup derived from sugar beets (Beta vulgaris) that is not only tasty but rich in vitamins and minerals (especially calcium and magnesium) that help support overall doggy wellness. We add just enough for flavor and nutrition.
CINNAMON (Cinnamomum aromaticum)
Cinnamon bark is loaded with a essential oils that are responsible for that familiar, warming "cinnamon" aroma and flavor. It not only enhances foods flavor but also acts as a natural preservative keeping our treats tasting fresher longer. A nutritional powerhouse, cinnamon boasts numerous health benefits that include digestive and metabolic support.
KELP (Laminaria spp.)
Kelp is a sea vegetable that actually belongs to the brown algae family. It grows in the cold northern regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans where it has access to vast amounts of marine nutrients. As a result, Kelp is rich in minerals including iodine, calcium and potassium which may help support healthy mental functioning among other bodily functions.
PEPPERMINT (Mentha X Piperita)
Peppermint is one of the most common flavors that we encounter and is familiar to most of us. The "minty" aroma is due to a complex essential oil present in the leaves, which is mostly comprised of menthol (the same compound is also responsible for the "cooling" properties of mint). Research suggests that the mere smell of mint awakens the mind and helps support mental function.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary - a kitchen staple from the mint family - is rich in polyphenolic compounds that are have strong anti-oxidant properties. Rosemary is widely used as a flavor enhancer but it can also act as a preservative serving dual culinary purpose. The phytonutrients in rosemary may also help support blood circulation to the brain thereby acting as a mental tonic.
TURMERIC (Curcuma longa)
This tropical perennial is best known for its starring role in curry and other spice mixtures widely used in South Asia, to which it lends a warm and slightly bitter taste. Medicinally, however, turmeric is a true all-star. Rich in polyphenolic diarylheptanoids (i.e. curcumin), turmeric has strong anti inflammatory properties and may help support bone and joint health.
CAYENNE (Capsicum annuum)
Cayenne pepper is a spicy staple of many foods. Its characteristic heat is due to "capsaicinoids" which have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. Used either topically or internally, cayenne may help support healthy bone, joint and muscle function by reducing inflammation.
BAY LEAF (Laurus nobilis)
Native to the Medditerrean, this evergreen shrub has been used since antiquity for its flavorful leaves. Like other members of the Laurel family (Lauraceae), bay leaf is rich in essential oils. These compounds may have beneficial properties that help support sore muscles and joints.
LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia)
The scent of lavender flower is one of the most recognized in the world. Native to the Mediterranean, lavender is an herb that has been used thousands of years. The flowers can be used to promote a healthy mood and to promote calm and relaxation.
PASSIONFLOWER (Passiflora incarnata)
The passionflower genus has over 350 species, many of which have been cultivated for their beautiful flowers and delicious fruit. Passiflora incarnata (aka true passionflower) has been used in traditional medicine to help promote relaxation as well as to enhance the quality of sleep.
CHAMOMILE (Matricaria recutita)
The word chamomile comes from the greek word χαμαίμηλον, which means "earth-apple", as a reference to the apple-like scent of the flowers. This characteristic aroma is the result of a complex mixture of essential oils, which when distilled are actually blue! Those same oils contribute to chamomile's activity as a gentle sleep aid.
PARSLEY (Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley is a member of the carrot family (Umbelliferae) and produces both edible leaves and roots. Parsley has a strong, pleasant flavor that lends itself to many culinary dishes. The same compounds responsible for its flavor may also help to promote fresh breath and oral health.
MYRRH (Commiphora sp.)
Myrrh is an oleo-gum-resin that exudes from wounds in the tree's bark. It is a complex mixture of oil (oleo) sugars (gum) and tar like compounds (resin) that combine to form a hard, waxy substance with a wonderful perfume-like aroma. Myrrh has anti-septic, analgesic and healing properties making it an excellent ingredient to help support oral health.
CLOVE (Syzygium aromaticum)
This familiar spice is actually the unopened flower buds of the clove tree. Clove buds are rich in essential oil (mainly composed of Eugenol) that is heavier than water causing the buds to sink (remove the floral parts and try it for yourself!). Aside from flavoring, clove buds have anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and have been used extensively to promote good oral health.
ALFALFA (Medicago sativa)
While it may be related to garden clover and may even look alike, Alfalfa is not your average weed. It is high in protein, minerals (including calcium) and vitamins (both water and fat soluble). This nutritional powerhouse certainly lends itself to a powerful lifestyle and can help support sustain activity.
DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)
Every part of the dandelion, a so called "weed", has been used medicinally for millennia. Dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals and are widely consumed in salads and soups. The flowers have been used to make wine. Dandelion root is used to help detoxify the body and can improve many bodily functions helping to keep active bodies in motion.
GALANGAL (Alpinia galanga)
Native to southeast Asia, Galangal is a close relative to Ginger and while superficiality similar in taste, the two are hardly interchanged in traditional cooking. Like other members of the Zingiberaceae family, Galangal has a spicy, energizing flavor and is used medicinally to help support activity and energy.
CAROB (Ceratonia siliqua)
Also known as St. John's Bread, the carob tree grows up to 50 feet tall. It produces voluminous bean-like fruit that contain sweet pulp and seeds. When roasted, the fruit has a chocolatey flavor. However, unlike chocolate is non-toxic to dogs an is often used to make "chocolate" substitutes. Carob fruit is used medicinally to help support healthy digestive function, and taste great while doing so.
FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel seed, a member of the carrot family, is sometimes confused with (and also called) anise (Pimpinella anisum) also from the carrot family. The seeds are rich in eseential oils that help promote both oral and digestive health.
GINGER (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger root (actually a rhizome) is a common ingredient in many foods, beverages and candies. Its unmistakable spicy flavor is due to compounds called "gingerols" which are closely related to the pungent "capsaicinoids" of hot pepper. Eating ginger is not only tasty, but it may help to promote good digestive health as well.