Here’s a new hobby for you – gather some free, nutritious veggies for your herbivorous or omnivorous pets.  What could be more natural?  It may surprise you to know that overall, many wild vegetables are better for us than spinach.

Following are some of the more common wild veggies. The nutritional information can be difficult to dig up, so I’ve included that for you too.  For more information on gathering & preparing these wild vegetables, please see Steve Brill’s ‘Wild Plants’.  A useful book for me to take out the door has been The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America: Nature’s Green Feast by Francois Couplan.

!! 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, oxalates may inhibit the uptake.  You may wish to research the oxalate content of foods if you are using them as a source of calcium.
  • Not all wild vegetables are suitable for all types of pets.  Please do your research and consult with a medical professional.

Dandelion Greens (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion Greens are a good source of Beta Carotene, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron and Manganese.

I wouldn’t overfeed them not only in view of the oxalate content, but also because in humans they are a natural mild diuretic (the roots are used more for that purpose). In fact, the French name means ‘Pee the bed’.  Another thing to be aware of is that most of the calories are from sugar sources.

Per cup (cooked & 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)

Lambs Quarters are a good source of Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Protein, as well as Vitamin A, C, B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Calcium, Potassium and Manganese.

1 cup (cooked & 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)

Chicory is a good source of Thiamin, Niacin and Zinc, as well as Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

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)

Fiddle Heads are a very good source of vegetable protein, Iron and Vitamin A & C.

3.5 oz:

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

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Purslane, or ‘Pusley’, is a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

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)

Dock is a good source of Thiamin, Niacin and Calcium, and a very good source Vitamin A, C, B6, Riboflavin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

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)

Chickweed is a good source or Vitamin A, C, Iron, Phosphorus, Calcium, Selenium, Magnesium, Potassium and Vegetable Protein.

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

Nettles (Urtica species, Laportea canadensis)

Caution: They don’t call these ‘Stinging Nettles’ for nothing! Use gloves when gathering.

Nettles are a good source of Calcium, Vitamin A, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, Niacin and Vegetable Protein.

Per 100g:

Calcium 2900
Magnesium 860
Iron 41.8
Potassium 1750
Vitamin A 15,700
Vitamin C 83
Thiamine .54
Riboflavin .43
Niacin 5.2
Selenium 2.2

Duckweed (Lemna minor)

Do the environment a favor and collect Duckweed in the wild for food.   This invasive weed can blanket and choke waterways.  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

I’ve fed several of these wild treats to my pets, even the fish!  Have you ever fed them to your pets?

Sources:

USDA
NutritionData
Edible Plants
The Wild Food Trail Guide
Wildmanstevebrill.com

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
7 Stunning Super-Herbs to Grow for Pets (with Infographic)
Greener Pastures – Seeding for Grazer Health & Wellness

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13 thoughts on “Wild Vegetables for Pets ©

  1. I’m going to have a freezer full of wild vegetables this fall, especially dandelion greens and fiddleheads.

  2. I have a great field guide for wild vegetable gathering that I got years ago and still use today. I gather wild vegetables and also seaweed when I have the opportunity.

  3. I enjoy searching for wild vegetables. It’s good exercise and wild vegetables are healthier than store vegetables grown in poor soil. Identifying them keeps my old brain healthy too!

  4. This is a great article! I had no idea there were so many wild vegetables out there……I guess I just didn’t think about it! Thank you!

Comments are closed.