According to statistics compiled by the American Pet Products Association, between 2009 and 2010, dog owners in the United States spent approximately $18.23 billion on pet food and treats! That’s a lot of zeros being spent to keep your dog’s diet healthy.
We are bombarded with all kinds of advertising and warnings from the pet food industry and veterinarians for what is good and not good to feed our dogs. Granted, there are some human foods, which some dogs cannot tolerate. The keyword is “some.”
That is not to say certain human foods may cause problems, such as chocolate, onions, or grapes.
But let’s face it before the pet food industry blasted off into a multi-billion dollar gold mine, dogs ate and survived quite well on homemade foods and scraps.
So, before we get all upset about what we are feeding our pets, let’s take a look at several human foods that are actually good for them.
Keep in mind dogs are not strictly carnivores. They are omnivores. Even in the wild, they naturally seek out berries, fruits, and greens to supplement their diets.
Ever wonder why your dog eats grass? Yes, they may have an upset tummy, but usually, it’s because they like the taste.
Remember, if you plan to start feeding your puppy or dog human foods, always start with small quantities to see how well they tolerate what you are offering. Keep the human foods supplement to 25% or less of your dog’s diet.
If you have a puppy, start them off to taste fruits and vegetables by using them as training treats.
Many of the following suggestions can be frozen and used sparingly as refreshing treats.
Since some dogs are lactose intolerant, start with smaller quantities.
Yogurt is full of calcium and protein. Use only yogurts that are plain, sugar-free, and with active bacteria. Yogurt is a great way to build up the flora in your dog’s intestines. A spoonful of yogurt added to their food is a good way to motivate a dog whose appetite is what it should be. Freeze it. They’ll love it.
Cottage cheese, as with yogurt, is full of calcium and proteins. A spoonful mixed in with their food will get their attention and make them members of “The Clean Bowl Club!”
Unless your dog is on a raw diet, eggs, an excellent protein source, should be cooked. Don’t throw out the shells, and they are good for your dog!
This sandwich staple is a sneaky way to give your dog their pills. Give a little glob as a tease, and then bury the pill in the second glob of peanut butter.
Vegetables — raw, frozen, canned, or freeze-dried
Dogs like carrots sliced, diced, or julienned. They are a terrific fiber source and loaded with vitamins and minerals your dog needs for healthy skin, coat, and digestion.
Green and yellow beans also make great filler when mixed in with their regular food, for that dog who is always hungry but can afford to lose a pound or three.
Again, don’t overdo the veggies. Your dog may not like all of them, but most dogs will like at least one or two.
Try giving your dog broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green/yellow beans, lettuce, kale, parsley, peas, pumpkin/squash (remove seeds), red/green peppers, and sweet potato/yams.
Fruits — fresh, frozen, canned, or freeze-dried
Apples should be washed well, but leave the skin on; it’s an anti-oxidant. Apples have oodles of vitamins A and C. They are an excellent source of fiber and they “crunch.” Smear some peanut butter on the slices for added protein. Do not feed your dog the apple seeds because they contain arsenic.
Bananas contain vitamins A and C. They also have phosphorous and potassium, and manganese.
Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Blueberries are a known anti-oxidant. Berries contain vitamin A, potassium, and phosphorous.
Melons are an excellent source of fiber. They also contain vitamin A, potassium, and phosphorous.
Pineapple is a tasty frozen, fresh or canned treat. Pineapples contain vitamin A, fiber, potassium, phosphorous, iron, and manganese.
Fish – fresh or canned
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish caught in cold water. Always be sure to cook fish before feeding it to your dog because some fresh fish carry parasites. Make sure you remove all the bones.
A little canned salmon, mackerel, or tuna are a good way to make a boring, dry meal interesting and healthier.
Meat – poultry, lean red meats, and organs
Unless your dog is on a raw diet, all poultry, red meats, and organs should be cooked.
Never give your pet cooked chicken bones! Kidneys and liver should be offered sparingly as a special surprise or motivator to get your dog to eat.
Brown and white rice, bulgar and cooked oatmeal offer an excellent option for adding carbohydrates for energy, especially if your dog has wheat allergies.
White rice is good for dogs with upset bellies. Oatmeal is a fantastic source of fiber for senior dogs having problems eliminating.
Adding human foods to your puppy or dog’s diet now and then will be a nice surprise and treat.
Don’t overdo it. As with everything, moderation is essential. Always start with small amounts to see how your dog reacts.
Using fruits and vegetables as treats will help prevent packing on the pounds for those dogs whose owners can’t resist giving their pampered poochies treats!
If you have a puppy, start by adding healthy training treats to your dog’s diet. It’s usually easier to get them to appreciate that a chunk of apple or a piece of broccoli is a more desirable treat than a bacon-flavored biscuit.
Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.