Between our doggie daycare responsibilities and all the daily walks, Sam and Thisbe get a ton of exercise everyday. Each morning they are treated to a BIG breakfast to help them sustain their energy for all that playtime. But of course, good meals shouldn’t only come at breakfast!
Nutrition for our canine best pals is often fraught with debate, so first off let me clarify that this post is NOT meant to be nutritional advice. This is just some information that I have learned after doing my own research while trying to feed my babies the best foods for maintaining their optimal health and weight. As always, discuss changes to your pupper’s diet with your vet or canine nutritionist!
Whether you decide to feed your pup a raw diet or go with kibble, we’ve provided a list of a few of our favorite foods along with some of their benefits that you may want to consider adding to your dog’s diet:
- Carrots – Here we have one of my pups’ favorite snacks! Carrots are low in calories, high in fiber and vitamin A which helps maintain healthy skin, coat, eyes, muscles and nerve function. They’re also a great alternative to store bought treats. We’ve cut them up into bite sized pieces for use in training, to hide in toys, or even given whole for a good chew. Whole, raw carrots make for a great dental treat since the chewing action helps clean residue from teeth. Freezing them can make them last a bit longer and are a nice cold treat in the summer.
- Sweet potato and pumpkin – Both of these foods are great for digestive health since they are high in fiber. Sweet potatoes, pumpkins and other orange-fleshed vegetables are also high in the antioxidant beta-carotene which gets converted to Vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also make a great dental treat when sliced and dehydrated. My pups love Sam’s Yams by Front Porch Pets (our Sam definitely approves!) but you can also make them in your home dehydrator for a more economical approach when going through a lot of them. They can also be served steamed or boiled as part of a meal. We tend to use pumpkin more as a supplement because too much of it can cause diarrhea pretty easily.
- Green beans – Whether served raw, steamed, frozen or canned with no added salt, green beans are packed full of vitamins and minerals including iron and calcium. They are quite popular among pet parents trying to help their chubby puppers lose a bit of weight, as they are also another high fiber vegetable that can easily be a replacement for store bought treats.
- Salmon – This is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which are necessary for heart and brain health as well as helping your pup maintain that beautiful sleek coat! Salmon is high in protein, can help with joint mobility, reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system. But a word of caution with this food – avoid feeding your dog raw salmon. There is a risk of raw salmon being infested with flukes, a parasite that can cause salmon poisoning disease in dogs that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and can even lead to death. Do not risk a trip over the Rainbow Bridge! Only feed cooked salmon, or if you prefer the more convenient canned version, make sure it is unsalted, stored in water instead of oil and does not contain bones that can scrape or damage the digestive tract.
- Peanut butter – If there is one thing my pups would sell their souls for, it’s peanut butter. This is also a favorite treat for pet parents to give our pups because 1) it lasts so long, and 2) it’s hilarious to watch a pupper smacking his lips and making goofy faces just trying to eat the stuff. Filling a Kong ball with peanut butter is probably the most popular way to administer this sticky goodness. Kongs can also be frozen to help this treat last even longer. Peanut butter contains healthy fats and lots of protein, but be sure to buy the unsalted, unsweetened kind. Manufactures tend to use sugar substitutes such as Xylitol in peanut butter, which is dangerous to dogs.
- Chicken – Whether fed raw or cooked, chicken is a lean source of protein that also provides omega-6 fatty acids (supplying a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is important for optimal health) and glucosamine which helps promote bone health. We usually serve boneless skinless chicken breast a few times a week with meals. It can also be cut up into bite sized portions for use as a highly prized training treat for some of those more difficult training sessions.
- Kefir – Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk beverage. Sounds gross, but it’s often referred to as “drinkable yogurt”. It’s made using starter grains that are a combo of yeasts, milk proteins (or other sugary beverage like coconut or almond milk) and bacteria. It is a great way to add beneficial probiotics to your pup’s digestive system. It has also been shown to aid in the management of other health issues like providing relief from gas, itchy skin and allergies. Depending on the size and weight of your dog, you’ll likely only be giving a tablespoon or two per day to your pup.
- Blueberries – These are high in antioxidants which help protect cells and tissues from damage. Blueberries also contain the same compounds as cranberries in helping to maintain good urinary tract health. Plus, they are small enough that you don’t need any preparation, just pop a few into your pup’s bowl (or mouth) and you’re good to go.
- Eggs – Another great source of protein, eggs are also a good source of essential amino and fatty acids. We typically hard boil eggs and feed either whole or chopped up into the rest of their meal. There is also evidence that ground egg shells provide a good source of calcium. A coffee grinder can be used to grind the shells into a powder that can then be sprinkled into your dog’s food. Just be sure to wash your coffee grinder first, of course!