For about a year, I was pretty hardcore into cooking healthy for the entire family. We tried no dairy to isolate allergies; we tried bento boxes for a healthy twist on brown bagging’; we focused on homegrown produce and local meats; we cut out MSG, certain yellow preservatives, and white sugar; we replaced soy with things like amino acid sauce…
I didn’t go nuts with it all, but if you had my brownies during this time, you better believe they had pumpkin puree in them and you had no idea.
This also means that I made all of the dog’s food from scratch, too. If you aren’t familiar with how spoiled this dog was before we adopted him, it’s worth a few tear-jerking moments here.
I fully recognize that this isn’t really the norm, but it’s what worked for us and I didn’t think much of it. It was simply part of the routine and what needed to be done in order to keep everyone healthy and happy, so it’s what I did.
Well… that is… until one day, the girls came home from school and B saw me mixing the weekly batch of dog food in the kitchen sink.
(Yes, you read that correctly, by the way. Using the sink is a whole lot easier to mix a large batch in than trying to find an appropriate mixing bowl that will happily slop it all over the counter or table while you’re mixing and scooping. Just toss it all in the sink, do your thing, and when you’re done, run some watch to clean up. Voila!)
Anyway, so they come in and B is clearly excited, “Is that supper?!?” To which I could only reply that no, no that is not their supper, and that the food she is so obviously drooling over is indeed the family pet’s dinner instead.
She was noticeably disappointed at that point and announced, “I wish I could eat Buddy’s dinner… ” which is the same point where I realized that I had unknowingly created jealousy over a dog’s food. Oops!
I made up for it immediately by changing our dinner plans to something extra yummy, but it was the first time I had ever seen someone wish s/he were eating an animal’s food instead. I’m not sure if that means the food I was feeding the dog was particularly delicious or if I was failing in the excitement factor for the human food being produced.
Either way, the dog was certainly being fed well, eh?12
For a full, in-depth tutorial and information about how I make my own dog food from scratch, check out my old post on homemade dog food.
In addition to those basics, here are some more healthy foods that are great for your dog. Just remember that you should be careful when drastically changing your beloved pet’s diet and it never hurts to consult with your veterinarian first, especially if your dog has health issues at all.
- Yogurt – Great source of calcium, protein, and probiotics. Do NOT choose a yogurt that has sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc. Better yet, make a huge batch of your own and share with your pooch.
- Flax seed – Good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help create a shiny coat, and fiber. Grind it first or choose a flax seed oil instead.
- Pumpkin – Another fiber source and good for beta carotene (vitamin A) . Added bonus – they tops are fun to play with!
- Sweet potatoes – Fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese are all in these spuds. Some dogs enjoy them when dehydrated and used as treats even.
- Brewer’s yeast – Good for the skin, coat, and carbohydrate metabolism. Do NOT use regular baking yeast because it can make your pet sick. Beware – Brewer’s yeast can be quite addictive, despite its smelliness. Just ask my cat about her addiction.
- Apples – Vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber are the main reasons to share your apple, but it’s also thought that the skin contains chemicals that may protect against certain types of cancer. Do NOT give your dog the whole apple, though. The seeds contain cyanide that in small quantities won’t hurt, but over time, in larger quantities, can be quite dangerous.
- Pineapple – Good source of calcium and potassium. I’m wary of this one because of all the sugar, but in small quantities, it’s safe. Freeze it for a fun treat to cool off in the summer with.
- Parsley – If your dog has smelly breath, this is a must. It works on humans, too, so grab a spring for yourself if you’re self-conscious about your breath.
- Peas – Green veggies in general are good to add to your dog’s diet. In addition to adding to their food, try freezing them and then rolling them across the floor to be chased!
Do you know of any other foods that are safe and well-loved by dogs?
I have been asked several times how I make my own dog treats, in addition to dog food. I’ve been working on compiling a list of great recipes, but this one is getting its own post because it caught me off-guard.
It was featured on All Recipes front page even, but when I clicked through to watch the video, I was surprised by the main ingredient: liver baby food.
I’ve never even seen liver baby food, so of course the first thing I did then was to google that, too. The vast majority of what popped up was Asian baby food jars and this lone Gerber image from what looks like the 50s maybe:
I don’t think they actually sell it any more, but the video clearly shows it being used at around the :40 second mark. Ewww! That looks even worse than most other baby foods!
If you really want to make this particular dog treat recipe, then just puree some chicken or beef livers and you’re good to go. Please don’t torture your baby with it, though. :P