I had a conversation with a friend the other day about dog food. They have a new dog and I said something about giving the dog a bite of banana. She responded that we don’t give the dog “people food.” When I asked why, she was under the assumption that all human food was bad, that they should just eat processed dog food. That is really a fairly old assumption and doesn’t take into account the research that has been done in the area of dog nutrition.
Let’s define…. “people food”. It really should be called “processed food that people eat.” If we define it that way, then dogs shouldn’t eat it. Chips, hotdogs, donuts….. not things to feed the dog. If it’s not good for you, it’s not good for them either.
But most clean veggies, fruits and low fat meats are all good for your dog. Why would chicken that is cooked, dried at high heat and pressed into little pellets be healthier than a homemade meal of chicken, veggies, brown rice and added vitamins? It really isn’t.
I feed my dogs a high quality kibble made of mostly fish. But every day, they get some added ground turkey or sardines, veggies and a little yogurt. They also get fruit and frozen peas as a treat.
Do you have to supplement your dog’s diet if you’re feeding a high quality dog food? Probably not. But just imagine if you had to eat the same dry, boring dinner every day? My dogs love veggies. When I make asparagus, Pippa waits to take the ends I break off. She loves tomatoes, so each year I plant a cherry tomato plant mostly for her. And watermelon is her favorite treat. Baxter has digestive issues, so a couple of teaspoons of yogurt full of probiotics on his food helps supplement his good bacteria.
The key is learning what is good supplemental foods and what truly are “people foods.” Also…. note there are foods that are poisonous to dogs. The should NEVER have anything with Xylitol sweetener in it. It can cause death with just a small amount of intake. Peanut butter (natural) is also fine. But many butters now contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol too. If you think your dog might have consumed anything with Xylitol in it, call the emergency vet immediately. A dog that eats a pack of sugarfree gum could die quickly without help.
Other veggies to avoid are onions, avocados, mushrooms, and tomato plant leaves (the actual tomato is fine). Corn is fine but never give them the cob. Grapes are the number one fruit to avoid. They can cause kidney failure with the consumption of just a few grapes. Other fruits to avoid are anything with a pit. The pits contain cyanide. I cut off bits of peach and Pippa loves it. But never give them a whole fruit with the pit.
The benefits of adding veggies and fruit?
- Lower calorie treat options.
- Added nutrients that is cooked out of dry dog food.
- Vitamins like the B, C and D vitamins that are not found in most dry dog foods.
- Omega 3 that can help with inflammation.
- Enzymes that help with digestion.
- Water. Veggies and fruits are full of water and can help your dog stay hydrated. Especially on hot days, a big slice of watermelon can supply a nice supplement of water to your dogs.
So avoid the junk food…. but start adding some veggies and fruit to your dogs diet without the fear of it being “people food.” They’ll love you for it.