By Karen A. Soukiasian
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 key word 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 a number of 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 the taste of 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 source of protein, should be cooked. Don’t throw out the shells…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 a second glob of peanut butter. Peanut butter can also be spread on apple and banana slices as a special treat. Don’t throw out the “empty” jar…it’s like a free KONG toy…let your dog work at getting every last bit!
Vegetables — raw, frozen, canned or freeze dried
Dogs like carrots sliced, diced or julienned. They are a terrific source of fiber 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 over do with the veggies. Your dog may not like all of them, but most dogs will like at least one or two.
Try giving your pet: 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 vitamin 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.
Bottom Line: Adding human foods to your puppy or dog’s diet now and then, will be a nice surprise and treat.
Don’t over do it. As with everything, moderation is essential. Always start with small amounts, to see how your dog reacts.
Using fruits and vegetable as treats, will help prevent packing on the pound for those dogs whose owners simply 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.
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