Are you a dog owner looking to spice up your walks with a fun and healthy twist? Why not try dog-friendly foraging whilst you are out and about? Not only is it an exciting activity for you and your furry friend, but it also comes with a range of benefits. In this blog, we'll explore the wonderful world of foraging and what goodies you can discover in the British countryside.
There are many benefits to foraging… (Aside from the obvious…) which include;
- Exercise and Bonding Time: Foraging takes you and your dog on an adventure that involves exploration and physical activity. Engaging with the world around you, nature, and your dog strengthens your bond. It can also do wonders for your mental health as you’ll be spending lots of time outdoors hedge rummaging!
- Mental Stimulation: Engaging in foraging activities sharpens your dog's mind. They'll have to use their senses to locate hidden treasures, keeping their mental faculties active. If they don’t have the nose to find foraged treats themselves, then it is a good opportunity to teach them to settle in an unfamiliar environment. Winston is so used to my frequent stops now that he just plonks himself down whilst I collect tasty morsels.
- Natural Nutrition: Wild foraged items are often rich in nutrients and free from additives. Incorporating these into both yours and your dog's diet is a great way to give yourseld a little nutritional boost.
Foraged Delights for Dogs…
All of the below goodies are perfectly safe for dogs and for humans, so why not try and gather some the next time you are out and about?
Blackberries - A tasty, low-calorie treat for weight-conscious dogs.
Not only are they rich in antioxidants for improved immune health, but promote healthy digestion with their high fibre content. Some dogs will even sniff them out and take them right off the bush. I am always amazed at how they know which are the right ones, but then their senses are so much better than ours, its not really a wonder at all!
Nettle Leaves - A natural source of vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium, beware though, It is not wise to eat nettles when flowering between June and October as they have a laxative effect and the plant will then contain cystolith crystals that can upset the urinary tract. Save them for spring!
Nettles have detoxifying properties which help cleanse the body's toxins and can also help break down or dissolve kidney stones. Dogs with chronic digestive disorders, urinary tract issues, and systemic toxicity will greatly benefit from eating nettles. They are also thought to help with allergies.
Dandelion Greens – These green plants are everywhere, and often highly underrated. As a mineral powerhouse, all plants of a dandelion is jam packed with nutrients.
Its bright yellow unmistakable flowers provide:
- High levels of polyphenols
But it's the leaves that pack even more of a punch. Dandelion leaves are rich in:
- Vitamins A, C, K, D and B complex
- Zinc, iron, calcium, manganese
- Protein, double the amount spinach provides
- Many other trace minerals
- Aids in digestion and acts as a diuretic.
- Supports liver function and detoxification.
And did you know that you can make coffee from dandelion roots too?
There are many other edibles that can be found in the UK countryside, and all have their own unique benefits:
Have a look at the benefits of Chickweed, Rose Hips and other berries (Dorwest have a great blog here around which are safe and which are not.) and Mushrooms (with Caution) - Certain edible wild mushrooms like chanterelles and porcini can be a nutritious addition – if you want to share them! Always consult a foraging guide to ensure safety, as some wild mushrooms can be toxic.
Here are some of my top foraging tips…
- When foraging, it is imperative that you know your plants / berries mushrooms. If in doubt… don’t munch on a hunch. Make sure you are 100% sure what you, and your dog are eating.
- Make sure to not over harvest – the wildlife needs food too!
- Be sure to stick to areas that are free from pesticides – managed verges, golf courses etc sadly will likely to have been sprayed, and these can linger in the plants.
- If you are foraging, make sure it is public land, or that you have the landowners permission. Some seemingly public places (like epping forest!) actual prohibit foraging (boo…) so always good to check.
- Make sure to take lots of storage for your goodies, although a poo bag has often come to the rescue!
Dog-friendly foraging in the UK is an exciting way to connect with nature, promote a healthier lifestyle for your pup, and discover the natural bounty that surrounds us. It offers mental and physical stimulation for your dog, while the foraged goodies provide essential nutrients to support their well-being. Just remember to forage responsibly, and you and your dog will have a paw-sitively delightful time exploring the wild, edible treasures of the British countryside. So, leash up your four-legged friend and embark on an adventure that's as delicious as it is rewarding.