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Do you remember the Food Pyramid growing up, now called ChooseMyPlate? The recommended portion size by food group has changed over the years and so has the actual food pyramid itself. Now, not only are there separate pyramids for most of the different dietary preferences people follow, but organizations like Oldways provide guides called Heritage Pyramids. They are based on our diverse world heritages’ ways of eating — Mediterranean, Latino, African, Asian, and vegetarian. So, if you make your own dog food at home or are incorporating healthy human foods into your dogs diet, then they most likely eat some of what you eat.
While adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your dog’s diet is healthy and beneficial, so is including a variety of grains. Yes, dogs can eat grains like us. However, just like if you choose to not include grains into your own diet, some people do not want to feed their dogs grains for different reasons. It is a personal choice whether you feed your dog grains, and if you are interested in doing so, here’s some basic information on the healthy benefits of feeding your doggie small amounts of grains.
Health Benefits of Whole Grains For Your Dog
What are whole grains? — the most common are wheat and corn. By definition, they are grains that are 100 percent of the original natural kernel in its entirety, meaning all of the bran, germ, and endosperm must be present, none removed, to be classified as a whole grain. A whole grain can still be processed through cracking, grinding, and splitting and remain nutritious. Some examples of whole grains are brown or wild rice, millet, and quinoa (that’s actually a seed).
There are some animal nutrition experts and veterinarians who say that dogs, like humans, can reduce several health risks when their diet includes whole grains. Dogs can have reduced risks of obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and some cancers. Whole grains are an excellent source of insoluble fiber and helps to keep blood sugar levels normal and steady. If you are purchasing a store bought dog food, look at the ingredient list for these two important words — whole grains, which are what you want to be feeding your dog, not refined grains that act as food fillers.
Whole grains are a good source of key nutrients and have valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables. To ensure a balanced dog food diet, include vegetables, whole grains, and more. Vitamins and minerals found in most whole grains are: B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, protein, iron, fiber, and potassium.
Two Great Whole Grain Choices For Your Dog
The following two grains, oatmeal and rice, are good choices to include in your dog’s diet, especially if you are new to homemade dog food or incorporating healthy grains into their existing food. It is important to remember to not feed too much of a grain all at once to dogs. While grains are filling and easy to make, you do not want to make grains the majority of their meal, and you want to make sure that you fully and properly cook any grains you are going to feed to a dog. Add grains to an abundance of raw or slightly cooked fruits and vegetables.
Oats/Oatmeal. Oats are a tasty choice for including in your dog’s diet, and when eaten plain, are a low calorie food at around 100 – 130 calories a cup cooked. They can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, can prevent artery clogging, and helps to boost a dog’s (and people’s) immune system. They have high levels of fiber, are low in fat, high in grain protein, and oatmeal is a naturally gluten-free food!
Brown Rice. High in fiber and a great source of manganese, brown rice also offers a source for magnesium and selenium. Brown rice is rich in antioxidants, promotes weight loss, and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Since your dog may not take to brown rice right away, you may want to try introducing them to a small amount of long grain white rice mixed into their food first. Though lacking in the nutrition and taste department, the texture of white rice may be more appealing to start. Rice is generally inexpensive and can be found almost anywhere.