You love your dog, and you want what’s best for him, but what do you really know about the food he eats? Is he on a strict dog kibble diet, or do you occasionally sneak him a sweet treat from the dinner table? If you do, you should know that highly processed foods can be detrimental to your dog’s health, as can overfeeding. But treat times and mealtimes can be highly rewarding, especially for food-motivated dogs. How do you strike a balance?
While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat (even if sweet), making good choices about what you feed your dog is important. Sticking with natural, whole-food options ensures that he has the energy he needs to stay the healthy, happy, and active best buddy he is for years to come. Need ideas? These 10 foods are nutritious and delicious all at once.
Although it must be cooked before you give it to your dog, sweet potato makes an excellent healthy sweet treat and a fantastic regular addition to your dog’s diet. Sweet potatoes contain a plethora of nutritious vitamins and minerals like:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
Better still, they’re low in fat, and though sweet, they don’t contain the high amounts of sugar found in most processed dog treats. Introduce sweet potato slowly by adding a spoonful or two of mashed sweet potato, either boiled or steamed, to your dog’s dinner. Or, use a food dehydrator to make sweet potato chews for your dog instead.
Tripe is a bit of a mystery to some folks, but the word simply refers to the stomach of a cow. It has a textured, almost ribbed surface with plenty of chew, making it a bit odd to experience the first few times you enjoy it. While it’s a bit of an acquired taste for humans (who usually enjoy it within a nice bowl of Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant), most dogs are gung-ho for the green format and will dine on it with gusto.
And that’s a very good thing, considering that green tripe is one of the very best natural superfoods you can give your pup!
So what makes green tripe so great, and how exactly do you manage to feed your dog the stomach of a cow? The secret is in the fact that green tripe is packed with healthy gut bacteria and enzymes that allow your dog to better digest what he’s already eating. Feed green tripe raw, giving your pup only the smallest amounts of the freshest kind you can find to start with. Slowly increase the amount and give it regularly once or twice per week.
Yes, the miracle food for humans that inspired bulletproof coffee is also good for your dog! Coconut oil is a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides; unlike saturated fats, MCTs are not only easy to digest but also contribute directly to the creation of energy without much need for processing within the body.
Coconut oil also contains a substance called lauric acid; research shows this chemical has immune-boosting features and may act as a protectant against illness.
Though coconut oil is so beneficial, it is important to feed it only in small amounts. A teaspoon a few times a week (or a dollop, if it’s chilled) is plenty. Avoid giving coconut oil multiple times a day as too much fat (of any kind) can trigger pancreatitis in some animals, especially if they’re already diagnosed with gallbladder issues or diabetes.
There’s even a bit of evidence to suggest that coconut oil may help to ward off parasites and internal gut bacteria issues. Of course, it tastes pretty good, too!
Chilled baby carrots make an excellent warm-weather whole food snack for your dog. Better still, they’re affordable; grow them on your own in a garden or row planter right in your apartment or house for a constant supply. Much like larger full-grown carrots, they contain a wealth of vitamins like:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
- Pantothenic acid
Even though most baby carrots have a mildly sweet flavor, they’re extremely low on the glycemic load rating system; that means they won’t overload your pet with sugar even though they qualify as a sweet treat. They’re especially helpful for snack-loving dogs who always seem to be hungry, or for those who are actively trying to lose weight.
Feed baby carrots to your dog raw and chilled for a crunchy-sweet snack your furry friend can enjoy throughout the day. Replace processed treats with the occasional baby carrot for a just-as-addictive yet healthy alternative.
Much like sweet potato, squash is a mildly sweet, slightly peppery (flavor depends on the variety) treat you can feed your dog once you’ve steamed, boiled or baked it. This category includes famous favorites like zucchini, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and butternut squash, too, so there’s plenty of room to keep things interesting for your pup.
Regardless of the type you offer, you’ll be providing your pup with everything from extra water to vitamins A, C, K, B6 and B12, all of which are vital to proper circulation and energy creation – and that means more playtime more often!
Most types of squash can be boiled, steamed, or baked; the first two are best because the squash will retain more nutrition during the cooking process. Try adding a dollop to your dog’s dish. Or, offer fresh zucchini slices after playtime to help him rehydrate and reclaim some of that hard-played energy.
You’re snuggled up with your sweetie watching a movie with Fido at your feet. As you and your significant other snack on movie popcorn, your furry friend gazes up at you with those sad, longing eyes…can’t he just have a bite? You sigh, because you know hot buttered popcorn just isn’t good for your pup, and toss him a treat instead.
If this sounds like a situation that regularly occurs in your home, there’s good news: popcorn can be a healthy snack and perfectly fine for your dog if given to him in the right way.
You’re correct to think that salty, hot, buttered popcorn isn’t really healthy (for you or your pup); it’s loaded with saturated fats and sodium that makes both of you retain water and gain weight. But fresh-popped corn left naked is not only filling, but low in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates, too.
Feed fresh popped corn to your dog without any additives; just air-pop it and give it piece-by-piece in place of treats and other salty, sugary foods. Avoid giving your pup a straight bowl of popcorn, not because this is unhealthy, but because a voracious eater is prone to the same popcorn-related problems as you sometimes get – a piece stuck in his throat, gums, or teeth that may be difficult to dislodge.
Feeding your dog a wholesome, natural diet isn’t always easy, especially if you lead a busy life with little time for baking and cooking. Taking just a few hours once a week to prepare treats in advance, especially those on this list, will ensure that you need only visit the refrigerator for a fresh, natural food choice that’s suitable for your dog. Whether you pick sweet potato or popcorn, your dog will appreciate the love with less risk for illnesses and extra weight gain along the way.Tags: dog food