Canine expert Caroline Hearn of Hedgerow Hounds explains the benefits of feeding fresh seasonal produce as part of your dog’s diet with some suggestions for spring, summer, autumn and wintertime. This blog first appeared on the Hedgerow Hounds website and we reproduce it here with thanks.

Nature’s larder

The majority of people have lost their connection with the land, nature and the changing seasons.

Nature’s larder provides us with a huge variety of produce at the perfect time when it will be of most benefit to us nutritionally. With a few small changes, we can all benefit from eating seasonally which is better for us, our dogs and the environment.

We can utilise herbs and vegetables in the Spring, which are a perfect cleansing tonic to gently ease us out of the long Winter months, where we have no doubt been overindulging and less active. We can turn to the cooling and hydrating bounty of Summer followed by the real bumper harvest of Autumn which gives us all the foods we need to help boost our immunity and general health in preparation for the cold Winter months ahead.

Here at Hedgerow Hounds, we are passionate about seasonal ingredients and if you really want to embrace seasonality then we have a seasonal range of handmade herbal blends which are included in the list of what to include under each season.

What’s so special about seasonal food?

Eating more seasonally ourselves and including some of these foods in our dog’s diet, we can benefit in so many ways:

  • We can reconnect with the cycles of nature and really appreciate the food that is available for a short period of time.
  • It is better value for money, as well as kinder to the environment, to buy ingredients when they are in abundance locally and haven’t travelled halfway around the world before they even get on our plates.
  • We can support local communities such as small producers, farmers markets, organic growers and game dealers.
  • The produce is fresher and therefore more nutritious as it is harvested when ripe or at its best and has minimal travelling time before we can purchase it.

Could we survive without sugar snap peas from Egypt, asparagus from Peru and eating strawberries in January? These have travelled thousands of miles, and are harvested unripe and sprayed with chemicals, gas, or wax to stop them from deteriorating in transit.

Or could we wait until they are ready to eat locally and benefit from much more flavour and far higher nutritional value while enjoying so many other foods in the meantime?

How does incorporating seasonal food benefit our dogs?

If you feed raw or home-cooked food to your dog then it is important to offer a good variety of foods over the coming months. If you feed dried or tinned food, it is also possible to start incorporating a small amount of fresh ingredients into the bowl at feed times.

By offering variety you can ensure your dog gets a broad range of nutrients and avoids the intolerances that can occur if the same protein and carbohydrate is fed continuously. A wide spectrum of fresh ingredients, either animal proteins or of plant origin nurtures a healthy gut microbiome which is vital for a healthy immune system and overall optimal health. The more diverse the diet, the less you will have to rely on supplementation.  

Full of beans from a eating a healthy and seasonal fresh food diet

By feeding what is in season, you are providing food at its very best. This often means that you don’t need a large amount to benefit from the superior nutritional value. A few local handpicked ripe blackberries added to the food will be far superior to a larger number of blueberries that have covered many air miles. Including some free-range, wild or organic meat whenever you can will also provide your dog with superior quality ingredients.

Depending on your location, there is generally a good range of proteins available from Spring to Summer but when Autumn comes there is suddenly a whole new larder available to the raw feeder or home cook.

The game season varies on the species but generally, partridge and pheasant are from September until February 1st. Venison is dependent on breed but around November to March and duck from September until January.

If you have been relying on beef, lamb, chicken and fish from March until August then this addition of free-range, often organic and minimally farmed protein is a huge bonus. You can either use them in addition or temporarily replace the proteins regularly used until the availability ends.

Putting a small amount of vegetables aside for your dog when preparing your own is good practice. It will soon become second nature to save a broccoli stalk, steam a little extra courgette, cut off a small slice of pear or apple or lift out the couple of squashed raspberries that are in the bottom of the punnet for your dog’s supper. You will also start to look out for seasonal bargains at the butchers or farmers market. If you can forage for ingredients such as blackberries, dandelion leaves, and cleavers and either keep a few hens or find a local organic supplier of eggs, then that is a bonus.

Set aside some of your lightly steamed broccoli or forage for blackberries

How much?

Adding a little fresh, local and seasonal produce even two or three times a week will help to gradually improve your dog’s overall diet. If your dog is new to fresh ingredients, start off with very small amounts and include one new addition at a time, until they adjust to a different way of eating. As a rule, although each dog is an individual, the majority of the meal is made up of animal protein with anything from 5% to 15% being provided by vegetables and berries that are suitable for your dog.   


Spring ingredients offer a gentle tonic to cleanse and wake up the system after less active months and a diet of heavier, warming meals. Many of these ingredients that come into their own offer support for the kidneys, liver and lymphatic system that can often get sluggish over the Winter months. You may observe that your dog seeks out the fresh grass shoots as they appear, which are full of energy, sweetness and moisture.  

The Natures Skin Tonic1 is perfect for a gentle Spring cleanse after the long winter months and also great for dogs that are itchy and suffer from seasonal allergies at this time of year.

Incorporate some of the following into your dogs meals:

Spring nettle, cleavers, dandelion leaf and root, asparagus, watercress, milk thistle, spring greens, new season lamb, rabbit and free-range eggs.


Summer ingredients are cooling, hydrating and uplifting and we are spoilt for choice at the range of produce available. If you can grow a few vegetables yourself such as courgette, cucumber, spinach, salad greens, chard and parsley then these will be bursting with flavour and goodness and you can add a little of these freshly picked ingredients to your dog’s food. If you grow blackberries and raspberries you will find that the dogs often help themselves to the fruit from the lower branches.  

Natures Bounty2 appears in the shop in February and covers the Summer months until early November. It is a nutritious blend which contains an organic seaweed. Bounty’s main task is to naturally repel fleas and ticks, which it has successfully done for many years. There are a number of sizes to choose from and can be found in the shop.

Incorporate small amounts of the following:

Fennel, melon, spinach, celery, blueberries, bilberries, raspberries, dandelion, seaweed, sorrel, courgettes, mint, parsley, calendula, cucumber, green beans, carrot tops, lettuce, rabbit, free-range eggs.  


Autumn provides nourishing produce to prepare for the colder months and is typically rich in antioxidants and high in vitamin C. Many of these vegetables, fruits and berries also lend themselves to preserving by the process of dry storage, freezing and fermentation, which would traditionally be used to ensure a supply of nutritious foods through the lean months of Winter that lay ahead.

The Autumn Blend3 comes out in October and covers the Autumn and Winter months and includes berries rich in vitamin C such as rosehip and hawthorn.

Incorporate small amounts of the following:

Squash, blackberries, rosehips, beetroot, squash, apples, citrus, burdock root, chicory, nettle seeds, fennel and dill seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds.

Game meat to include: partridge, pheasant, grouse, pigeon, guinea fowl, quail, venison and duck.

Fish including pollack, mackerel, coley and haddock.  


Winter provides us with comforting food for warmth and sustenance.

Incorporate small amounts of the following:

Ginger root, turmeric, kale, celeriac, thyme, ruby chard, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, Jerusalem artichoke, pear, russet apple, turkey, duck, venison and mussels.

Useful links

1Natures Skin Tonic

2Natures Bounty

3Autumn Blend – available from October

Caroline Hearn, MICHT, Dip. ICAT

Caroline is a Member of IAAT, the International Association of Animal Therapists. She is a sports, remedial and holistic massage therapist qualified to treat canine, equine, and human patients. Caroline has a lifelong obsession with dogs, a passion for holistic healthcare and natural nutrition, and a love for foraging in the countryside; all of which lead her to form the company Hedgerow Hounds which makes veterinary-approved nutritive herbal blends for dogs and other natural healthcare products. She has recently developed Hedgerow Horse.

Caroline also writes regularly for the holistic magazine Edition Dog and covers subjects such as raw feeding, canine therapies and the progress of the herbal sensory garden she created for her dogs.

Links for more information:

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