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Healthy ‘upo’ for a healthy doggo

There are vegetables and fruits that are safe for dogs.

While dogs need a lot of meat from puppyhood to adulthood, vegetables and fruits contain  nutrients that can supplement a dog’s diet of dry or canned food, and boiled meat.

In their senior years, however, it is best to lessen the meat to prevent problems in the kidneys and liver.

“Predominantly it is established that dogs are non vegetarian creatures. So, the need of meat in their diet is essential. But to balance out nutritional deficiencies left by meat you have to add up some vegetables and fruits safe for dogs in their diet,” said kanimall.com in “What Vegetables and Fruits are Good for Dogs.”

Kanimall.co added this fun fact:

Bramble, a Blue Merle collie, is the longest living dog known to mankind.  He was a vegetarian, fed only vegetables during the 27 years he lived on this planet.

An "upo" vine of Father Emmanuel Alparce in Bicol.  This vegetable is easy to plant and will have fruits in three to four months. (Photo by Father Noli Alparce)
Mixed diet for dogs

Aside from the additional nutrients from vegetables, it is also not advisable to maintain a diet of pure commercial dog food as dog food is processed and contains preservatives, additives, and artificial flavoring and ingredients.

“Instead of going to the store and solely buying commercial dog food, try incorporating some of these everyday healthy vegetables into your dog's diet,” said Cholee Clay in “Vegetables That Are Good for Dogs” in pethelpful.com.

Clay stressed commercial dog food “is not all bad. However, it is a good idea to vary your dog's diet to provide them with nutrients for a healthier lifestyle.”

The ideal dog diet should consist not more that 25 per cent vegetable matter.

“You should talk to your veterinarian to see what that means for your dog. A dog's diet will vary depending on many factors of their lifestyle. Breed, size, and activity level are just a few of the factors that will affect how much vegetable matter your dog should consume,” Clay said.

Vegetables also offer a low-calorie addition to a dog’s diet, she said. Green leafy vegetables are  very nutritious but other vegetables have a variety of health benefits for dogs.

‘Upo’ or calabash gourd

The lowly "upo" is a very healthy vegetable for dogs.

 “Upo,” a member of the bottle gourd family, is a good source of fiber, said kanimall.com. It is also known as calabash gourd.

“Gourd family vegetables are recommended for dogs….Bottle gourd is also known as calabash. I regularly feed bottle gourd to my dogs. I do feed them boiled and mixed with other vegetables. Bottle gourd is good source of fiber. When cooked they are very easy to digest for dogs. Bottle gourd is loaded with potassium. It is also abundant in vitamin C. I have been feeding this to my dogs for more than 2 decades now. Its a great addition to any meal,” said kanimall.com.

Health benefits of ‘upo’

“Upo,” the fruit, is rich in  flavonoids, sapnins, sterois, tannins and carbohydrates.  The fruit is also rich in minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorous, and Vitamin B, said mediko.ph.

The  healthy "upo"  is one of the inexpensive sources of calcium, phosporous and fiber and can be planted  using bamboo for the vine to crawl, or can be bought for only P15 to P50 per piece depending on the location.  (Photo by Father Noli Alparce)
In “Calabash contains active ingredients potential for cancer treatment,”  the  Philippine Council for Health Research and Development said the fruit and leaves of calabash contain “flavonoids such as quercetin and anthraquinone, the important phytochemicals for antiangiogenic activities, a process that inhibits the growth and development of new blood vessels in the body.”

“Antiangiogenesis controls the spread of tumour cells in the body by disabling the transport of nutrients toward the cancerous cells. Normally, tumour starts from a single cell and divides to make more cancer cells. The growth of malignant cells will depend on the availability of specific nutrients being transported by blood vessels,” it added.

It noted that based on findings of a study using “upo,”   the “researchers claimed that calabash extracts has the ability to prevent blood vessel growth and development and could be used to help prevent the spread of cancer cells in the human body. Researchers also believe that calabash tree could be a natural resource that can be used in the development of cheaper and locally available anti-cancer treatments.”

Other benefits

Michoud Pharmacy, in “Health Benefits of Calabash and Luffa,” listed the other benefits oof “upo.”  

1. Helps relieve constipation. Calabash is rich in soluble and non-soluble fiber and is made of water. Fiber and water is a great combination to fight constipation and other stomach problems, said Michoud Pharmacy.

2. Helps in diet and weight loss. While on a weight loss diet, it is best to consume more vegetables. “Upo” is one of the low calories vegetables around. It is also not expensive. It has several vitamins and minerals.

3. Good for the heart. It contains potassium and sodium which have been proven to help promote hearth health.

4. Good for the liver. There are several studies that showed calabash has anti-inflammation properties.

5.  Good for diabetic patient. Being low in calories, calabash can help  provide a diabetic patient with a healthy diet.

6.  Antidote for food poisoning. “Though further studies about this claim should be conducted but traditionally, calabash has been used by people as antidote for food poisoning. However, one important thing note is, you may use calabash as first aid solution but meeting a doctor is highly recommended when it comes to food poisoning,” Michoud Pharmacy said.

Warning about calabash

Too much calabash can lead to stomach ulcer.

“Those who have stomach problem should avoid consuming calabash because cucurbitacins could cause ulcers in the stomach.The safest way to get all the health benefits of calabash is by making sure it is properly cooked,” Michoud Pharmacy stressed.

Preparing “upo” for dogs

1. Remove the skin and the seeds of the “upo.” 

2. Then grate the flesh.  

3. Boil the “upo” with other vegetables that are safe for dogs, and with  meat. 

4. Let it cool when cooked. 

5. Then give to your dog.

6. You can  add some dog food too.

Topics: upo , bottle gourd , calabash , dogs
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