August 25, 2009

A natural diet for your dog

There are many advantages of feeding your dog a natural/human food diet. It's not necessarily cheap or convenient however the long term effects of this type of diet on your dog's health can be priceless. Some pet owners that switched their dogs to this type of natural diet have reported improvements in their dog's coat, breath, temperament, brighter eyes, more energy and vitality and, well, you get the idea! You will know exactly what your dog is eating - no more toxic chemicals, recycled animals or un-nutritional fillers mixed into the food.

Flickr photo credit: exfordy

You will need to use human quality food - do not scrape leftover food from your plate into your dog's bowl. Above all, be sure to consult your vet before completely changing your dog's diet to ensure that they will be getting the proper nutrients they need, and if they have any food sensitivities you should be aware of. Do not go on your own tastes and nutritional needs as a guide for your dog's diet.

It is important to ensure that your dog's diet consists of a good balance of meat, vegetables, fruits, grains and (if necessary) added supplements. A diet consisting of only or too high in protein can result in unpleasant gas and/or digestive upset. These symptoms could also be the result of a food allergy (again, consult your vet first).

Here are 10 "people foods" that are a great healthy (and tasty!) addition to your dog's natural diet:

Salmon: A great source of Omega-3 fatty acids that support the immune system and helps promote healthy brain functions & development. Salmon is also very beneficial for your pet's skin and coat. You can feed salmon or salmon oil (if feeding salmon make sure it's cooked as raw salmon can carry a parasite that can make your dog sick).

Pumpkin: Dogs need fibre in their diet and pumpkin is an excellent source of fibre and beta carotene (Vitamin A). Adding pumpkin to your dog's diet will help keep their cells lining the gut healthy.

Flax seed (ground or oil): Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as a good source of fibre. Flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega-3 fatty acids without the fibre. Flax seed and oil must be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Yogurt: Choose a yogurt that has live active bacteria and no sugars or artificial sweeteners in it. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein. For a healthy cool summer treat you can freeze some yogurt in an ice cube tray for your pup.

Eggs: For some dogs that are more sensitive and prone to digestive upset, eggs are good to include in their diet for a protein boost. Eggs are a good source of easily digestible protein, selenium and riboflavin which makes it a healthy treat to add to your dog's food. (Never feed your dog raw eggs as the raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency).

Apples: With the skin on, apples are full of good chemicals that are said to be protective against some types of cancer in humans. Apples are an excellent source of Vitamin C and fibre. If you do a lot of training with your dog, try using dried/dehydrated pieces of apple as a reward!

Green beans: a great source of vitamin K, plant fibre, manganese and Vitamin C. Beans are a great low-calorie way to fill up your rolly-polly pup and help maintain a healthy body weight.

Brewer's yeast: Dogs seem to love the flavor of Brewer's yeast, which is full of B vitamins that are good for the skin, coat and metabolism. (Be sure to use Brewer's Yeast and not baking yeast which will make your dog sick).

Oatmeal: Oatmeal can be very beneficial for older dogs that may have trouble with bowel regularity, and it's also a good alternative source of grain for dogs with wheat allergies. Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fibre and can be fed with probiotics to help enhance their function. (Oatmeal should always be fed cooked with no sugar or flavoring added to it).

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet or a pet nutritionist. The above information is not meant to replace your dog's normal, balanced diet. They are ideas for adding a healthy variety to your dog's diet and/or for alternative natural treats. Always consult your vet before making any major changes to your dog's diet. Some medications may interact badly with some nutrients.

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