Dog Food: Going beyond the Kibble (Part 1)

I live in Seattle, so the idea of a healthy, whole foods lifestyle isn’t reserved for just us humans. Articles galore online describe how easy it is to switch your dog from byproduct riddled kibble and mystery meat canned food to a real, you can actually see the ingredient whole foods diet.

Why would you bother? First, it’s healthier, especially knowing that your pup is getting real meats and vegetables, and you get to pick what goes inside. Second, in most cases it’s cheaper. A local pet shop owner tipped me off to a brilliant idea (and talked me out of buying some canned food). Throw some chicken in the slow cooker on a Monday morning, and you’ll have fresh chicken all the way till Sunday! Lean, healthy protein source for about 36 cents a serving, compared to about $1/serving for the wet food we feed Pickle. That’s a 65% savings!

Okay, now you’re intrigued, right? The issue now is what can we and what can’t we feed our dogs. Here’s a list of some great, tasty options to feed your pup that are safe for your pup to eat:

Fresh, cooked meat.

Fresh meat can be a great stand in for the mystery meat canned food you may be serving up now, and works great in a pinch if you accidentally run out of food. Chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, and chuck steak or roast are animal-based proteins, which help dogs grow up strong. Make sure to cook the meat well as raw or undercooked meat could transmit food born illnesses to your pup. Many pet health sites will advise against fatty cuts, including bacon, but I encourage moderation. A piece of bacon will make your dog happy, a whole pound may leave him with a belly ache. Lastly, cut meat into easy-to-chew chunks to avoid choking.

Sweet potatoes.

Pickle loves her some sweet potato! Mixed up in her food or as a stand alone treat, sweet potatoes are a great 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.

Apples.

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A wonderful, crunchy, sweet and/or tangy treat for your dog. Apples with the skin on are full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) and are a source of vitamins A and C and fibre. Be weary of the seeds, however, as they contain cyanide. Don’t let your dog eat the core, but don’t be too worried if they get a seed or two. Issues occur when they regularly eat seeds, but a couple shouldn’t cause an issue.

Carrots.

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Another cool, crunchy, see treat. Carrots are good for a dog’s teeth, low calorie, high in fiber and beta carotene/vitamin A.

Pumpkin.

Fiber is a huge theme here, and pumpkin is no exception. Also a good source of beta carotene (a source of vitamin A), we use pumpkin as a way to regulate Pickle’s bowel movements. It’s a tasty treat that certainly keeps her regular (and her belly happy).

Nut Butters.

Move beyond the peanut butter when you are giving your pup a midday treat. We have used everything from almond butter to sunflower seed butter to help spice up Pickle’s meals and treats (especially spreading it on her antler chew, she digs it!) A great source of protein and nutrients. Try to stick with raw, unsalted butters.

Cranberries and Blueberries.

Cranberries and blueberries good sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Both are high in antioxidant content, which can help protect against free radicals that damage normal cells and tissues, are good for cardiovascular system and immune system. Cranberries have been used to help relieve to effects of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in dogs (still go to your vet if your dog is showing signs of painful urination). At the same time the effect of antioxidants can protect the structure and tissues from the radical damage and delay aging. So blueberries provide special benefits for older dogs.

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Blueberries and cranberries should be fed in moderation so as not to upset the digestive system of your dog. Over feeding of berries could lead to upset bellies and diarrhea.

Yogurt.

Yogurt is awesome for dogs! Not only is yogurt a great source of calcium and protein, but it is also a great source of stomach friendly probiotics for your dog! When Pickle was on antibiotics for her kennel cough, we gave her a small amount of yogurt everyday to keep her regulated, and she loved it. Choose low fat yogurts with no added sugar or sweeteners. On a warm day, frozen yogurt (with berries!?) can make a great treat for your pup!

Make sure to check back later in the week when we look at the foods that are dangerous for your pup and need to be avoided.

What are your favorite ways to spice up your dog’s meals? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or on Twitter!

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