Whether it’s cooking them special meals or sneaking them bits of food as we cook, we love to spoil our pets with treats. They certainly deserve it, plus it’s hard to resist those big, pleading eyes staring at us as they silently beg for a taste of delicious food. You often hear about foods that are toxic to dogs and cats such as chocolate, grapes, nuts, caffeine, and avocado — but what about human foods that are actually good for them? Just like us, pets benefit from a healthy, well-balanced diet, and incorporating whole foods helps contribute to their overall health.
There are plenty of fresh foods that you can incorporate into your dog or cat’s diet, but before you start, remember to introduce new foods slowly, and always feed in moderation to prevent digestive issues and weight gain. If your pet suffers from food allergies or has a medical condition that requires a special diet, it’s best to discuss options with a traditional or holistic veterinarian before introducing new foods.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has beneficial medium-chain fatty acids, and when given in appropriate amounts, it can aid in digestion, relieve itchy skin, and give your pet a healthy, shiny coat. How much should you give? Pet MD recommends one-quarter teaspoon for small pets and up to one tablespoon for large pets, given up to twice daily with meals.
2. Flax Seeds and Flax Oil
Flax delivers essential omega-3s and is a great alternative to fish-based supplements. Add about one teaspoon (less for small pets and cats) to meals to help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy. It’s important to always store ground flax seeds and flax oil in a dark container in the fridge to prevent them from going rancid.
Adding a small amount of canned pumpkin — one teaspoon to one tablespoon, depending on your pet’s weight — is an easy way to add dietary fiber and minerals like zinc, iron, and potassium to their diet. Make sure you buy 100 percent pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar and spices that can make pets sick.
Apples have fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, making a great crunchy snack. Remove the peel, core, stem, and seeds, and then chop it into small pieces. You can also put pieces of thinly sliced apple in a food dehydrator to make homemade treats.
This healthy, vitamin-packed antioxidant can be fed fresh or frozen. Sprinkle a few berries on your pet’s food or incorporate them into homemade treats.
Cantaloupe is rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene, and watermelon has vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as potassium. Remove the rind and seeds, then chop into bite-sized pieces that can be fed either fresh or frozen.
Full of potassium, bananas are a naturally sweet treat that can be fed raw or sliced thinly and dehydrated.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and can even help clean a pet’s teeth when fed raw. Give a few raw pieces as a snack or add finely diced, steamed carrots to food for a nutritional boost.
9. Green Beans
Green beans are a powerhouse of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Let pets crunch away on a few raw or frozen beans, or add chopped, steamed beans to their meals.
This dense, green vegetable has beneficial fiber and vitamin C. Steam the florets and stalk, then do a rough chop in a food processor for an easy, nutritious dinner topping.
Peas are an excellent source of protein and iron, plus vitamins A and K, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Add a sprinkle of fresh or frozen peas to their meal or feed as a treat.
12. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and are packed with vitamins C, B6, beta-carotene, and manganese. You can slice and bake them for a fun treat, or add steamed, diced pieces to their food. A very small amount of coconut oil can be brushed on before baking for flavor and a nutritional boost.
This healthy carbohydrate provides fiber and linoleic acid. Serve small amounts of cooked oatmeal with their meal or use ground oats as a base for homemade crunchy treats. Since it’s gentle on the stomach, cooked oatmeal makes a good alternative for pets that are experiencing temporary upset stomach and unable to handle their regular food or those that are sensitive to other grains.
Keep it Healthy
Sharing food with our pets is fun, but remember to never give foods that have been seasoned or those that have been cooked in large amounts of oil or other fats. If you give your pet anything frozen, monitor them as they munch away to makes sure they don’t choke on any whole pieces.
Lead image source: pixabay