With literally hundreds of brands of dog food to choose from and each claiming to be the best food for your canine friend, picking your dogs diet can be a daunting task. There is so much variety available that we are spoilt for choice. We all want the best for our pooch, but knowing exactly what that is takes research, time, trial and error – especially if your furry friend has health issues or temperamental taste buds. However, once you have found the staple food, you can help boost your dogs health by adding dog-approved human foods.
I wrote in a previous post that I never, ever feed Nero human food. He is not allowed to be fed from a plate or the table and I don’t feed him leftovers. By being so consistent with my boundaries, I have successfully achieved the behaviour I wish for (from any dog) when it comes to humans eating or food being left unattended – ignorance. However, I do add certain oils, fruits and vegetables to his daily kibble. Many of the vitamins and minerals found in fresh fruit and veg are actually beneficial for dogs just as they are for humans. There are also those that are potentially toxic, so it is important to know the difference.
- Olive oil- The staple of every kitchen and a great addition to your dogs diet. I can’t say enough good things when it comes to olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil) to be more precise. Nero gobbles his kibble extra fast when there is oil mixed in so he must approve of the taste. Olive oil has high levels of antioxidants which are essential for supporting a healthy immune system. It has also been proven to help prevent the cognitive decline associated with aging, meaning it’s a great brain power source for your canine. It’s rich in monounsaturated fats which helps to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It promotes longer life too. If that wasn’t enough evidence to convince you to add a spoonful of OO to your dogs diet, it’s also an energy booster! And it’s great for enhancing your dogs natural beauty. A healthy, glossy coat is easily achievable from the inside out. Restoring that moisture and shine to your dogs coat is so easy!
- Coconut oil – With similar benefits to olive oil, cocnout oil is filled to the brim with seriously good fats (MCFAs) that help promote digestion, prevent infection, reduces allergic reactions and again, help to improve your dogs coat. It can also be used as a remedy for dry, iritated skin conditions such as eczema. The properties of coconut oil help prevent and treat both fungal and yeast infections, reduce bad breath, assist with weight loss, aids arthirtus and ligament issues and can help with the prevention and control of diabetes. It has powerful antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal agents. I know, what a true superfood! You can even use it as a whitening, antibacterial toothpaste to brush those fangs . Hard to believe you didn’t know coconut oil is so good for your dog, right?
- Fish oil – Originally used to treat canine allergies, Fish oil (thanks to it’s richness in omega 3 fat) is now known to reduce inflammation, regulate the immune system and improve brain power. This is an oil I have just discovered and will be introducing into Nero’s diet ASAP. The endless benefits that fish oil brings to a dog’s diet are seriously impressive.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – No, it’s not an oil but it has almost as many good things going for it as the previous in this post. I’ve relied on ACV ever since Nero’s first UTI (Urinary tract infection). A few drops in his water over a period of three days resolved the urine infection and I have used it ever since. I also bathed Nero in an ACV bath to help repel all those nasty summer critters. Helping to restore the PH balance in your dogs body can do wonders to prevent pests such as ticks, fleas, parasites etc. They are less likely to be attracted to a host with slightly more acidic urine and coat. It’s also great to brush through your dogs coat after a bath. It acts as a deodorant and neutralises any horrid smells and relieves irritated skin. As an added bonus, due to the anti-bacterial properties it acts as a great cleaner for your dogs ears!
I strongly suggest researching specifically into the amounts of which to give your dog. Don’t run out to the supermarket, buy everything on this list and make your dog a different meal every night for the foreseeable future. You have to slowly introduce any change into your dogs diet to avoid upset stomachs and sickness.
I also find that something as simple as mixing cooled boiled water to the dry food results in a different texture that Nero enjoys.
Okay, now for the fresh foods that you can add to your dogs food to give a good nutritional boost!
The good stuff…
- Apples –I’m not convinced that one a day keeps the doctor (vet) away but it sure helps to clean the residue off of Nero’s teeth, which in turn means fresher breath! Be sure to take the core and seeds out before giving an apple to your dog as these can be both a toxic and choking hazard! (I sometimes put frozen apple slices in Nero’s Kong which keeps him entertained for a short while.)
- Beans- just as they can with humans, beans can lower your dogs cholesterol levels. They can help prevent constipation (although obviously increase the fart factor.) The fibre found in beans can help to regulate sugar levels in the blood – one of the leading causes of diabetes in canines. Black beans and soy beans are Nero’s two favourite, although I’m sure he would enjoy good old Heinz if given half the chance.
- Berries – It’s true, they are berry good for you. Blueberries, blackberries and strawberries (especially frozen) make for a delicious, healthy snack (in small portions). All the antioxidants and fiber that these berries boast provide the same benefits for your dog as they do for you. Strawberries are particularly high in Vitamin C and even contain a naturally whitning enzyme that will brighten your dogs teeth!
And the bad stuff…
- Grapes and raisins – These are a big no-no. It’s alarming how many dog owners are unaware of the toxic threat that eating just a small amount of grapes can cause. Although it’s unknown exactly what dangerous substance is found in grapes and raisins, we do know that it can cause kidney failure and even death. Although some pooches may eat some and show no reaction, it’s better safe than sorry. The first thing I did upon moving into our new home was remove the grape tree outside.
- Onions and garlic – Another pair to avoid at all costs. In fact, avoid any member of the Allium family (onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, chives and rakkyo) -these are k-9 killers! Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is toxic to dogs. Eating onions can cause a condition known as haemolytic anaemia – which is the destruction of red blood cells (obviously not a good thing.) Red blood cells carry oxygen to all organs in the body as well as the brain.
- Mushrooms – There are so many different types of mushrooms and although only a small amount are actually toxic to dogs, it’s probably safer to stay away from all of them unless you’re an expert. Symptoms can range from vomiting to seizures and even death. It is not unheard of for a dog to die due to ingesting mushrooms.
- The pulp but not the plant – Whilst the red fruit is generally considered safe for dogs to eat, slightly green tomatoes and the plant contain a toxic substance called solanine. This can cause loss of co-ordination, seizures, cardiac effects and muscle weakness.
- Raw and green potato – Just as we humans avoid that green one in the sack, so should our dogs. This staple vegetable is loaded with vitamin C and other good nutrients but should not be fed raw or often to your pet. Raw and green potatoes may contain solanine (just like tomatoes) that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and irregular heartbeats in dogs.
Remember too much of anything good can result in it being more harmful than helpful. If you decide on introducing new things to your dogs diet, do so in moderation and be prepared to do your research. There are many more fruit and vegetables that are both good and bad for your dog and it is always best to receive recommendations from your vet. If you think your dog may have ingested any poisonous edibles, contact your vet immediately – it could save your four-legged friend’s life!