Provide variety and a nutritional boost
Modern Dog Magazine
By Elizabeth Pask and Laura Scott
As a responsible and informed dog lover, you probably know that too much “people food” can make your dog ill or overweight, but there are some human foods that can be safely added to your dog’s meals in moderation to give a nutritional boost to Queenie’s diet and add a bit of variety to her food bowl. Just remember: any additions to your dog’s meals shouldn’t comprise more than 25 percent of her weekly caloric requirement.
1.Yogurt is a good source of available calcium and protein. When choosing yogurt, pick one that has live active bacteria and no sugars or artificial sweeteners. The active bacteria may act as probiotics. If your pooch is pudgy, make sure that you pick fat-free yogurt but not one that contains fat substitutes (e.g., Simplesse or Olestra). Frozen yogurt is a nice summer treat for dogs.
2. Flax seed (ground or oil) is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that are good for skin and coat. Whole flax seeds are best if ground right before feeding as this type of fat can go rancid quickly. Flax seed can also be added to your dog’s diet as a source of fiber. Flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega- 3 fatty acids without the fiber. Make sure that you store the oil or seeds in the fridge in an air tight dark container.
3. Salmon is a fatty fish which is also a good source of omega- 3 fatty acids. These fats support the immune system and can be beneficial for skin and coat health. There has also been some indication that they may benefit dogs with allergies. You can feed salmon or salmon oil. If feeding salmon, make sure it’s cooked before serving, as raw salmon can carry a parasite that can make your dog sick.
4. Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A). Dogs need fiber in their diet. The current trend is towards highly digestible diets that lower stool volume and this is not necessarily a good thing. Keeping the GI tract moving helps keep the cells lining the gut healthy.
5. Sweet potatoes are another source of dietary fiber and contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese. Sweet potatoes are great sliced and dehydrated as a chewy treat for your dog. There are so many dog treats on the market that we often overlook the simple, healthy, and reasonably priced treats available at our grocery store.
6. Green beans are a good source of plant fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese. If your dog has a tendency to put on weight, then replacing some of her regular food with green beans is a great low calorie way to fill her up and help her maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs enjoy green beans frozen.
7. Eggs are a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin, and selenium. For some dogs that are prone to digestive upset, eggs can give them a little protein boost. Adding eggs to your dog’s food is a healthy treat. Make sure to use cooked whole egg, as raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency. If you do a lot of training with your dog, consider taking cooked eggs to your next class as training treats.
8. Brewer’s yeast is the yeast that’s left over from making alcohol. Dogs seem to really enjoy the tangy taste of brewer’s yeast. It’s full of B vitamins which are good for skin, coat, and carbohydrate metabolism. Make sure you’re using brewer’s yeast (available at health food stores), not baking yeast which will make your dog sick. Brewer’s yeast can spice up your dog’s appetite. Just sprinkle a little on the food of a picky eater and watch her dive into her food.
9. Apples are wonderful crunchy treats for your dog. Apples with the skin on are full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that are thought to be protective against some types of cancer in humans. They are a source of vitamins A and C and fiber. Apple seeds, however, contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core. Though the effects of a few apple seeds will likely not harm your dog, the deleterious effects can accumulate over time if allowed to eat apple seeds regularly.
10. Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber. This can be beneficial for some older dogs that may have trouble maintaining bowel regularity. Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat. It can be fed in conjunction with probiotics to enhance their function. Keep in mind oatmeal should always be fed cooked and plain with no sugar or flavoring. As always, check with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they are on any medications. Upsetting the vitamin and mineral balances in your dog’s diet can have negative effects on your dog’s health and some medications interact badly with some nutrients. The aim of most dog owners is to give their dogs the best diet possible. Good nutrition coupled with a health care program may result in extending your dog’s life by as much as 15 percent. The suggestions above are not meant to replace your dog’s normal, balanced diet. Rather, they are ideas for alternative treats or for adding a little variety to your dog’s meals.
Are you looking for more ways to add a bit of excitement to your dog’s mealtime? Or are you looking for new ideas for tasty treats? Well look no further! Here are ten more people foods that will give you just what you’re looking for and will help boost your dog’s nutrition.
11. Rice is good to feed when your dog has an upset tummy and needs a bland meal. There are a variety of different types of rice. Brown rice is a little higher in protein and a little lower in fat when compared to white rice. White or instant rice is an easily digestible carbohydrate which makes it a good source of energy when your dog has an upset tummy or if you are feeding an older dog.
12. Squash, like pumpkin, can be added to bulk up his stool and is a good source of betacarotene (provitamin A). Hint: remove the seeds and then slice and freeze the squash to make it a fun, crunchy snack for your dog.
13. Popcorn that has been air popped with no butter or salt is a great low-calorie treat for your dog. Popcorn contains potassium as well as the bone-building minerals phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium. So snuggle up and share that popcorn with your furry friend next time you watch a movie.
14. Lean meat (chicken, beef, or pork) with no visible fat and no added sauces or seasonings can be a great training treat or can add a bit of good-quality extra protein to your dog’s diet. Lean meat is an excellent, balanced source of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle in your dog’s body. Meat is also a great source of B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, and Cobalamine). These vitamins are involved in energy metabolism in the body.
15. Liver is available freeze-dried in most pet stores and it is a great training treat. You can also buy it fresh in the grocery store to feed at home. Fresh liver can be cooked and then baked to make your own liver treats. Liver is an excellent source of B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, and Folic acid), Vitamin A, and Vitamin K. It is also a great source of iron. Warning: Too much liver may be toxic to dogs because of its high vitamin A content. Therefore, it is best to limit the amount of liver fed to your dog to not more than 1 g of fresh liver/Kg body weight per day.
16. Pineapple can be a special treat for your dog. Pineapple contains mostly sugar but it also contains calcium and potassium. Frozen pineapple can be a fun summer treat for your dog.
17. Cottage cheese is high in protein and calcium and it’s fairly bland, so it can be a good way to add some extra protein to your dog’s diet. Cottage cheese is a dairy product and some dogs don’t do well with dairy, so make sure you start with just a small amount.
18. Parsley has long been thought to improve doggie breath, so next time you are baking treats for your dog, try adding a few tablespoons of chopped parsley for added flavor and color. Parsley can also be a good source of calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene.
19. Peanut butter is a healthy, high-protein treat for dogs. Try smearing some inside or on one of your dog’s toys, or let him lick out the container when it’s almost finished.
20. Peas can be added right to your dog’s food, frozen or thawed. Peas are a good source of the B vitamin Thiamin, phosphorous, and potassium.
*The foods listed above should be fed as an extra treat in addition to or as part of a balanced diet. Extra foods shouldn’t make up more than 25 percent of your dog’s diet. Just be sure to try out new foods one at a time until you’re certain that they don’t upset your dog’s stomach.