As many people know, things like chocolate and coffee are bad for dogs and can make them very sick because of many reasons. We also know that, in general, table scraps are no good since fatty foods make a bigger difference for dogs than people, especially since a dog that’s five pounds overweight is considered obese.
What are we allowed to feed out dogs then? Well, there are a lot of great things you can feed your dog with much less guilt, and some things are actually healthy! Many of these things can be mixed together and baked into wonderful treats, or used to top off your picky dog’s food to entice him into finally finishing his meal.
There are people who argue over whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores, but although dogs would prefer meats over fruits, veggies, and grains, I feel that dogs actually are omnivores and can benefit from non-meat treats such as these:
Yogurt: This is a great source of available calcium and protein, but be sure to pick a brand that has live active bacteria and no sugars or artificial sweeteners added to it. If your dog’s alittle pudgy, you can pick fat-free yogurt, but not one that contains fat substitutes. Yogurt is a nice summer treat for dogs, and is a super cheap replacement to peanut butter or Kong Stuff’n pastes when frozen in a Kong toy.
Pumpkin: This is a good source of fibre and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A). Dogs need fibre in their diet to stay “regular”. A lot of people are leaning toward dog foods that are higly digestible so that their dogs have smaller, more manageable, stools, but that’s not really a good thing. You want to keep your dog’s GI tract moving helps keep the cells lining the gut healthy. Adding pumpkin to your dog’s meals can help a lot! I usually buy canned pumpkin (unsweetened and not pie-filling!) and feed this to my dog once a month or when he seems to be having problems going to the bathroom.
Squash: Like pumpkin, this can be added to bulk up your dog’s stool, and is a good source of betacarotene (provitamin A). One fun thing you can do is buy a fresh squash and slice it in strips, making sure to remove the seeds and skin, and freeze it for a yummy treat!
Sweet potatoes: This is another source of dietary fibre, like pumpkin and squash, and contains vitamin B6, Vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese. You can buy a lot of yummy healthy jerky treats made of sweet potato since, when sliced and dehydrated, become chewy and easy to digest.
Peanut butter: This is Ringo’s favorite snack. It is healthy and high in protein, and has been said to reduce canine diabetes and can help with bad breath! I like to smear some on Ringo’s antler chews and freeze it so that the peanut butter is frozen in the pores of the antler chew and gives it a special flavor. It’s also an inexpensive, healthy, and tasty ingredient to make any homemade dog treat extra yummy.
Peas: This can be added right to a picky puppy’s food, frozen or thawed. Peas are a good source of the Vitamin B (thiamine), phosphorous, and potassium.
Green beans: Even though I personally hate green beans, they’re a good source of plant fibre, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and manganese. Ringo can eat all he likes! They’re a great substitute to some of your dog’s food (you can feed half dog food and half green beans each meal!) if he’s getting fat as it’s a low-calorie way to fill him up and maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs enjoy green beans frozen as a chewy crunchy treat.
Apples: These are a wonderful crunchy treat for your dog, and one of Ringo’s favorites. With the skin on, apples are full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that are thought to be protective against some types of cancer in humans, so who knows, maybe it’s good for dogs too. They’re a nice source of Vitamins A and C and fibre. Be careful though; Apple seeds contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core! Be sure to slice an apple and have it prepared as if you were to eat it. If you do give your dog a full apple, be sure to watch him.
Pineapple: This can be an occasional special treat for your dog. Pineapple does contain a lot of sugar, but it does have calcium and potassium too. Frozen pineapple can be a fun summer treat for your dog, or a special ingredient to get a picky dog interested in his dog food.
Cottage cheese: High in protein and calcium and fairly bland, cottage cheese can be a good way to add some extra protein to your dog’s diet. Be careful though; dairy products, cottage cheese included, don’t do well with dogs, whom are lactose intolerant, so make sure to start with just a small amount.
Eggs: They’re a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin, and selenium. For some dogs that are prone to digestive problems and stomach aches, eggs can give them a little protein boost. Adding eggs to your dog’s food is a healthy treat, but make sure to use cooked whole egg since raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency. Considered a tasty and rare treat, you could take some with you to obedience class as a super high value reward. They may be alittle smelly though…
Oatmeal: This is a good source of soluble fibre. Oatmeal can be beneficial for older dogs that may have trouble staying “regular”. Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat! Keep in mind that oatmeal should always be fed cooked and plain with no sugar or flavoring!
Rice: It’s good to feed your dog boiled (and warm-temperature) rice when your dog has an upset tummy and needs a bland meal. Brown rice is a little higher in protein and a little lower in fat when compared to white rice. Rice in general is easily digestible and makes a good source of energy when your dog has an upset tummy. I like to boil chicken breast and rice into a mushy soup whenever Ringo has a stomach ache. Be sure to never serve dishes hot!
Popcorn: With no butter or salt, this is a great low-calorie treat for your dog. Popcorn contains potassium, as well as phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium to help build strong bones. Make sure the popcorn isn’t too hot when letting your dog in on this snack during movie time.
Flax seed (ground or oil): This is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that are good for skin and coat. Since they can go bad quickly, it’s best to grind whole flax seeds before feeding. Ground flax seed can be added to your dog’s diet as a source of fibre, but flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega- 3 fatty acids, but without the fibre. Make sure that you store the oil or seeds in the fridge in an air tight dark container.
Parsley: This is a good way to improve doggie breath, so next time you are baking treats for your dog, try adding a few tablespoons of chopped parsley for added flavour and colour. Parsley can also be a good source of calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene.
Brewer’s yeast: Full of B Vitamins which are good for skin, coat, and carbohydrate metabolism, Brewer’s yeast is a good cooking ingredient for your puppy’s treats. Make sure you’re using brewer’s yeast and not baking yeast which will make your dog sick. You can sprinkle a little on your picky dog’s food too!
Now that we’ve looked at the fruits, grain, and veggies that are good for Man’s Best Friend, what kinds of meats are good? Well, any meat, really, but I personally like:
Salmon: This is actually one of my favorite meats personally, so Ringo gets a lot of this in his diet. Actually, his dog food is currently Salmon and Potato flavored, and I chose it because that sounded like something I’d like to eat. Anyway! Salmon is a fatty fish and a great source of omega- 3 fatty acids. These fats support the immune system and can be beneficial for skin and coat. You can feed your dog 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. No sushi!
Liver: You can get this freeze-dried in most pet stores, and is a great training treat that’s high in value due to its taste, smell, and texture. You can also buy it fresh in the grocery store to feed at home. Fresh liver can be cooked, and then baked into tasty liver treats at a fraction of the cost of freeze-dried treats at the pet store ($8 for a one-ounce bag? Seriously?!). It 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. Be careful though; because of its high vitamin A content, do not feed your dog too much liver!
And of course, there are the typical meats prominent in dog food, such as turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, etc., but more specifically, the kind of meat you want to feed your dog is:
Lean meat: Be sure to let your dog in on yummy tasty meats, but make sure that you only offer slices with no visible fat and no added sauces or seasonings. Plain meat can be a great training treat, or can add a bit of good-quality extra protein to your dog’s diet. Meat is an excellent source of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle in your dog’s body, as well as Vitamin B (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, and Cobalamine), which are involved in energy metabolism in the body. All dogs need meat in their diet, but despite how tempted you are to give your dog the “bad pieces” with fat all over it, hold back and provide your buddy with the nice lean slices you planned to save for yourself. Though, I don’t think he’ll mind getting that gross piece with the vein on it…
So that’s that; the many yummy human foods that are also good for your dog. Like all foods, just because it’s healthy, it doesn’t mean you can engorge yourself with it. Be sure that your dog’s main food source is its dog food, which is already balanced in nutrition for your dog. A sample or two of these human foods can help though, especially if your dogs is lacking in some vitamins, is having a tummy ache, or just deserves some super special treats during training class. I’m sure there are other human foods that are good for dogs, and if I missed any, feel free to add more to the list in the comments!