We have all heard experts in the field of animal health care tell us that dogs should never get table scraps. They should be fed a consistent diet of kibble and/or canned dog food to maintain optimal health.
There are a host of reasons for experts to preach “no human food” as the gospel for dog care. One is that some human foods are very toxic to dogs. Another is that table food can spoil a dog’s appetite and make him or her unhappy with their dry dog food. In addition, many processed human foods contain a high amount of sodium, which is not good for our four-legged canine friends.
While some of this advice is good, there certainly are exceptions to the “no table food” rule. In fact, some human foods are quite nutritious for canines and can be used every day to promote good health. However, remember to always consider the potential for food allergies with your puppy. Start by offering a minimal amount to your puppy and then waiting 24 hours to determine if your puppy reacts adversely to the new food.
Let’s take a look at a few of the healthy options:
Apples – There’s an old human adage that says “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The same may be true for dogs, but caution must be used because apple seeds contain cyanide, which should not be consumed by canines because the harmful effects can accumulate over time and cause illness. However, apples are full of vitamins A and C and they are also a good source of fiber. When feeding apples to your dog, be sure to thoroughly wash them to remove any harmful spray residue. Don’t bother peeling them. The skin is chocked full of phytonutrients that are believed to be a preventative for some types of cancers. Simply cut them into quarters, remove the seeds and offer them to your furry friend, who will most likely enjoy the natural sweetness of the treat.
Brewer’s yeast – A word of caution in necessary. Do not confuse brewer’s yeast, which is available in health food stores, with baking yeast, which can make canines very ill. The two are not the same! Double check that bag before you buy it! Brewer’s yeast, which is a byproduct from making alcohol, has been used for years as a natural means of preventing dogs from becoming infested with fleas. Supposedly, once brewer’s yeast enters the dog system, it gives off an odor that is unpleasant to fleas. In addition to providing a deterrent to fleas, brewer’s yeast is full of vitamin B, which is quite beneficial to the skin, coat and metabolism. Brewer’s yeast is thought to stimulate the canine immune system and it contains biotin, zinc and high-quality proteins that assist in reducing the shedding of hair. Some folks say that brewer’s yeast works well to boost a dog’s appetite. Simply sprinkle some on the dog’s food.
Eggs – Eggs are a good source of protein for both humans and dogs. However, there is a debate over whether or not dogs should eat raw eggs. Some veterinarians say raw eggs are good for a dog’s coat. Others say raw eggs should be avoided because the uncooked egg whites can cause a biotin deficiency. You should talk to experts that you trust so that you can make your own decision concerning the feeding of raw eggs. Cooked eggs are a low fat treat and a good source of digestible protein. Cooked eggs can provide some relief for dogs that are prone to digestive problems. Lightly-scrambled eggs are ideal for mixing with a dog’s dry food. Not only do they make the meal more attractive, cooked eggs are a good source of riboflavin and selenium, which is a substance found in natural sulphides.
Flax seeds – Flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to maintaining a dog’s healthy skin and coat. Flax seeds are beneficial whether ground or processed for oil. Because the oil can quickly turn rancid, flax seed oil, which is also known as linseed oil, is best fed prior to a meal. The seed is a good source of fiber. Flax seed oil provides a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, but does not provide the fiber. Some people choose to feed flax seed oil rather than fish oil because it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as fish oil and it has more alpha-linolenic acid, which is beneficial in reducing immune system disorders, while also supplying omega-6 fatty acids. Once opened, flax seed oil should be stored in a dark container in the refrigerator.
Green beans – Thinking of putting your dog on a diet? Green beans could be just what the doctor ordered. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins K and C and manganese. Owners who have dogs that are overweight have had excellent results with supplementing some of the canine’s regular food with green beans. If you choose canned green beans, make sure to buy those with a lower salt content.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which can be quite beneficial to older dogs that may experience irregularity when it comes to moving their bowels. Frequently used for dogs that cannot tolerate wheat, oatmeal should be served cooked. Do not add sugar.
Pumpkin – Pumpkin is an excellent diet food for dogs. Canned pumpkin can be mixed with a dog’s dry food to reduce the caloric intake. Pumpkin is also a good source of beta carotene, which provides vitamin A, and fiber. It can help keep a dog “regular.”
Salmon – Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids because of its high fat content. While high in fat, it is a good source of useable fat that can help boost immune system health. Salmon is good for both the skin and dog’s coat. It is best to feed cooked salmon or to use salmon oil. Raw salmon can contain parasites that can cause illness in dogs.
Yogurt – This is something you shouldn’t be without. Feeding yogurt to dogs is extremely beneficial because it is high in calcium and protein. Choose yogurts that have live bacteria and little or no sugar. Refrain from buying those that contain artificial sweeteners. Yogurt can help with the digestion process, especially when a dog is taking antibiotics. If you like to share a snack with your dog, trying freezing some yogurt. You can have your ice cream and Fido can have his yogurt.
Whenever one introduces new foods to a dog’s diet, it is best to do so gradually to minimize any intestinal stress.