Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets

Vegetables are obviously an important part of the herbivorous and omnivorous diet. Feeding your pet a variety of nutrient-dense, easily-digested vegetables and herbs can have a delightful impact on their overall well-being, health conditions, breeding, and growth.

There is nothing more natural than harvesting wild vegetables for our animals, also known as wild foraging. The bonus? They’re usually more nutritious and have more healing properties than cultivated vegetables. Most wild vegetables are more nutritious than spinach. Not only do they boast an exceptional nutritional profile to begin with, they also grow in more nutrient-dense soil than their farmed counterparts, resulting in a plant that is bursting with vitamins, minerals, and herbal healing properties. All of this, compliments of Mother Nature, free of charge.

You can feed wild vegetables fresh, freeze them, dehydrate them or bake them into healthy pet treats. If you have grazers like horses, you can transplant some wild vegetables so they can munch all Summer long.

Harvesting wild vegetables for pets takes some knowledge and basic tools. My go-to book for identifying, gathering and preparing wild vegetables is Identifying & Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (And Not So Wild) Places, by Steve Brill.

Notes of Caution

  • Gather from places that are unlikely to have been exposed to pesticides & wash very well.
  • Positively identify what you are gathering, as some edible plants have poisonous impostors. Some also have poisonous parts, or must be prepared in a certain way to avoid ill effects.
  • Although some veggies are technically high in calcium, their oxalate content may inhibit the uptake. You may wish to research the oxalate content of foods if you are using them as a source of calcium for pets with high requirements, such as turtles or aquatic snails.
  • Not all wild vegetables are suitable for all types of pets. Please research and consult with a veterinarian.
  • Introduce wild vegetables to your pet slowly, one species at a time, and monitor them for any negative reaction before adding another new plant.

Wild Herbs and Vegetables for Pets

Following is a list of wild herbs and vegetables that are suitable for many species of pets. Please talk to your veterinarian before adding any new food or supplement to your pet’s diet.

Dandelion Greens (Taraxacum officinale)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Greens are packed with nutrients. I suggest you not feed too many of them as they’re a mild diuretic (Dandelion root is a more powerful diuretic). They’re also high in oxalate and most of their calories come from sugar sources.

Per cup (cooked and drained):

Protein 2.1 g
Beta Carotene 6247 mcg
Lutein & Zeaxanthin 4944 mcg
Vitamin C 18.9 mg
Vitamin E 3.6 mg
Vitamin K 204 mg
Folate 13.7 mcg
Calcium 147 mg
Iron 1.9 mg
Magnesium 25.2 mg
Selenium 0.3 mcg
Potassium 244 mg
Omega-3 fatty acids 39.9 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids 235 mg

Lambs Quarters (Chenopodium album)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Lambs Quarters

1 cup (cooked and drained):

Protein 5.8 g
Omega-3 fatty acids 57.6 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids 493 mg
Tryptophan 52.2 mg
Threonine 223 mg
Arginine 347 mg
Histidine 158 mg
Leucine 481 mg
Lysine 486 mg
Methionine 66.6 mg
Phenylalanine 227 mg
Valine 310 mg
Vitamin A 17461 IU
Vitamin C 66.6 mg
Thiamin 0.2 mg
Riboflavin 0.5 mg
Niacin 1.6 mg
Pantothenic Acid 0.1 mg
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg
Calcium 464 mg
Iron 1.3 mg
Magnesium 41.4 mg
Selenium 1.6 mcg

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Chicory

Greens – 1 cup (Raw):

Beta Carotene 995 mcg
Lutein & Zeaxanthin 2987 mcg
Omega-3 fatty acids 5.5 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids 32.5 mg
Protein 0.5 g
Arginine 36.0 mg
Tryptophan 9.0 mg
Threonine 13.6 mg
Isoleucine 29.3 mg
Leucine 21.5 mg
Lysine 19.4 mg
Methionine 2.9 mg
Phenylalanine 11.9 mg
Valine 22.3 mg
Histidine 8.4 mg
Vitamin A 1658 IU
Vitamin C 7.0 mg
Vitamin E 0.7 mg
Vitamin K 86.3 mcg
Thiamin 0.0 mg
Riboflavin 0.0 mg
Niacin 0.1 mg
Vitamin B6 0.0 mg
Folate 31.9 mcg
Vitamin B12 0.0 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 0.3 mg
Calcium 29.0 mg
Iron 0.3 mg
Magnesium 8.7 mg
Potassium 122 mg

Fiddle Heads (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Fiddleheads

3.5 oz:

Protein 3.8 g
Vitamin A 719 IU
Vitamin C 29 mg
Iron .55 mg

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Purslane

Purslane is also known as ‘Pusley’.

Protein 1.7 g
Tryptophan 18.4 mg
Threonine 57.5 mg
Isoleucine 60.9 mg
Leucine 105 mg
Lysine 74.8 mg
Methionine 16.1 mg
Phenylalanine 66.7 mg
Valine 82.8 mg
Arginine 65.6 mg
Histidine 26.5 mg
Vitamin A 2130 IU
Vitamin C 12.1 mg
Riboflavin 0.1 mg
Niacin 0.5 mg
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg
Folate 10.3 mcg
Calcium 89.7 mg
Iron 0.9 mg
Magnesium 77.0 mg
Potassium 561 mg
Selenium 1.0 mcg

Dock (Rumex crispus)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Dock

Protein 0.5 g
Threonine 24.1 mg
Isoleucine 26.0 mg
Leucine 42.6 mg
Lysine 29.4 mg
Methionine 9.0 mg
Phenylalanine 29.1 mg
Valine 33.9 mg
Arginine 27.4 mg
Histidine 13.7 mg
Vitamin A 973 IU
Vitamin C 7.4 mg
Niacin 0.1 mg
Folate 2.2 mcg
Calcium 10.6 mg
Iron 0.6 mg
Magnesium 24.9
Selenium 0.3 mcg

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Chickweed

Per 100g:

Calcium 1210
Magnesium 529
Potasium 1840
Vitamin A 7,229-32,500 IU
Vitamin C 375
Thiamin .02
Riboflavin .14
Niacin .51
Selenium 15.3

Duckweed (Lemna minor)

Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets - Duckweed

Do the environment a favor and collect Duckweed in the wild for food. This invasive weed can blanket and choke waterways but it’s being studied as a nutritious food source. It’s good for fish and it has been studied as a feed for cattle.

Per 100 g:

Protein 2.1 g (Reported crude protein content of 18-42%)
Calcium 142 mg
Vitamin A 560 IU
Thiamin .06 mg
Riboflavin .13 mg
Niacin .6 mg
Vitamin C 5 mg

Wild vegetable and herb foraging has become a hobby for me. Your horse and dog will enjoy the hunt too.  I’ve fed several of these wild treats to my pets, even the fish!

Natural Pet Care Blog CommentsHave you ever fed wild vegetables and herbs to your pets? Please share your experience in the comments below.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
7 Stunning Super-Herbs to Grow for Pets (with Infographic)
Plant Some Wellness in Your Pasture for Healthier Farm Animals
The Best Natural Foods and Supplements to Help Your Dog Live Longer

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5 Responses to “Wild Vegetable and Herb Foraging for Pets”

  1. Good Article I am Happy to visit your page, harvesting wild vegetables for our animals, Yes, it’s possible with the help of this and we can feed our pets with a variety of nutrients.

  2. Kim E says:

    I find most wild greens in the spring but I gather wild herbs all summer long. Not only for pets but for the rest of our family too! They’re more nutritious and they have better flavour than anything I can find in a grocery store. They’re easy to dry for later use and sometimes I freeze them. I find the freezer robs them of their flavour more than drying though. I vacuum seal dried herbs to keep their flavour. They last well into the next season that way. Maybe I’ll run into one of you out there someday. 🙂 😀

  3. Mypetzilla says:

    Yes the only thing I would say is just to properly read up before you start picking things but this is definitely worth trying for you pets. Good post thank you

  4. We love to pick & preserve wild herbs so our pets have them in the Winter. We feed them to our rabbits, horse and hamster and they really enjoy it. Lots of dandelion & dock mostly. Now I know what else to look for…thanks!

  5. Colton Strause says:

    Sounds like a fun outing to me! I’m a little afraid of picking the wrong plants though. I’ll have to pick up a good book.

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