Who doesn’t like a good healthy superfood freebie! Well, you can get lots of great additional extras for yourself and your dog by foraging and taking a closer look at what’s around you on walks this Autumn. Dogs and their ancestors have been foraging for centuries and plenty of dogs love nothing better than to take twice as long over the normal walk because… yes, all those blackberries need picking! But next time you are out, have a look at rose hips and hawthorn berries also…
There are some rules to observe when you are foraging;
- Only pick things you feel confident you can identify
- Always pick away from roadsides and areas where pesticides or herbicides have been used.
- Leave some for the local wildlife
- Ask permission if you are on private land
Tools of the”Trade”
What you will need to bring with you..
- Secateurs, pocket knife or a pair of good scissors
- A container, or if very enthusiastic take a big reusable shopping bag
- Gloves if you feel it’s handy
- Do wear good trousers and a jumper to protect yourself from thorns, buzzing beasties.
Truly a cheap superfood, they are everywhere and are power-packed; high in antioxidants, good sources of fibre, folate, manganese, omega 3 and vitamins A, C, E & K. A few fresh to nibble is fine but best to rinse them. Do note they don’t keep well so use quickly or freeze.
To share for you and your dog- try a smoothie! Celery, Banana, Apple, Ginger and Blackberry- just give your dog a little on food or freeze as a pupsicle or ice-cube tray.
Alternatively, feed a few as a treat or add to a meal.
2. Rose hips
You won’t find a fruit denser in Vitamin C! Whilst dogs make their own, this can quickly come depleted when stressed, mentality or physically – so rose hip can be a good vitC boost for hardworking or ailing dogs.
Rose hips also contain A & B, essential fatty acids, and antioxdants. Rose hips affinities are with the digestive system, urinary tract and skin.
Pick rose hips when they are deep red, and they come off the stem with a snap. The rose hips you are looking for are pointy ovals; roughly 2cm tall. Dry your rose hips in a dark, dry but a little warm area in the house like the air cupboard; if the hips go black then it’s too damp and you will need to remove those as that is mould. Once dried grind them in a clean coffee grinder and store in an airtight container. You can give your dog or cat 1 teaspoon per 500gr of food roughly.
Ground rosehip is action packed so you do not need much!
3. Hawthorn Berries
A pesky plant, so you might have to brave as the thorns are nasty! Hawthorn is good for heart health.
The berries are quite nice tasting so it might be your dog takes to them anyway. Alternatively you can dry the berries on a clean sheet of paper and grind with a mortar and pestle into a coarse powder. 1 teaspoon per 500gr of food daily is fine.
For yourself and your own heart health – just add a teaspoon of the dried berry powder to a cup of boiling water (or in a tea pot) and allow to steep for ten minutes before consuming the tea – you might need some honey mixed in.
Want to know more, try these books…
“Food for Free” by Richard Mabey & “Herbs for Pets” by Gregory Tilford & Mary Wulff