Dogs love human snacks and foods, but most is not good for them. However, there are certain foods which have many benefits for our furry children which can provide variety to their diet and give a nutritional boost as well. It should however be remembered, that moderation is key and should not exceed more than 25% of the dog’s weekly calorie requirement.
1. Yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein. Choose one with live active bacteria (which can act as a probiotic) and no sugars or artificial sweeteners. If your dog is overweight, pick fat-free yogurt but not one that contains fat substitutes. Frozen yogurt is a nice summer treat for dogs.
2. Flax seed (ground or oil) is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid without the fibre and known to improve skin and coat condition Flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega- 3 fatty acids without the fibre. Make sure that you store the oil or seeds in the fridge in an air tight dark container.
4. Pumpkin is a good source of fibre and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A). Dogs need fibre 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 fibre 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 fibre, vitamins K and C and manganese. If your dog has a tendency to put on weight, green beans is a great low calorie way to add to the diet to maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs enjoy frozen green beans.
7. Eggs are a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin and selenium. For dogs with sensitive stomach, eggs is great way of adding protein. This is a supreme healthy treat to add to an existing diet but cook well as raw egg whites could cause biotin deficiency. Dog trainers say that a cooked egg is a wonderful training treat.
8. Brewer’s yeast is filled with 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.
9. Dogs love crunchy apples. It is a healthy source of vitamins A and C and fibre. Apple seeds, however, contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core. To safely feed your dog apples, slice the apples into smaller pieces and make sure no seeds are present. Another good idea is to start in small quantities so your dog can become accustomed to a new ingredient in their diet.
10. Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fibre, especially for older dogs that may suffer from constipation. It is an alternative source of grain for dogs 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 flavouring.
NOTE: As always, check with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they are on any medication. Upsetting the vitamin and mineral balances in your dog’s diet could have negative effects on your dog’s health and some medications interact badly with certain 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%. These suggestions are not meant to replace a dog’s normal, balanced diet, but are ideas for alternative treats or for adding a little variety to your dog’s meals.