Most people believe that dogs and cats should only eat specific food made just for them and while many of the commercial pet foods are nutritious, did you know that there are certain natural foods they can also safely eat on a daily basis? Through many years of nutrition research on dogs and cats, the following whole foods are superb at adding additional vitamins, minerals and antioxidants:
- Cold Water Fish – salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies add beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Cats have a natural love for fish but your pup may also enjoy eating fish, especially salmon. The omega-3 fatty acids help keep their coats shiny, prevent cancer and it’s anti-inflammatory. Adding fish oil supplements can also be helpful for your pet’s diet. Talk to your vet for the best brands.
- Celery – Humans have used celery as medicine before elevating it to food status. Calorie for calorie, it is one of the healthiest treats you can offer your dog. Celery is also packed with the antioxidant coumarin, which helps support the immune system and regulate blood pressure. It also contains healthful flavonoids that are being studied for their anti-cancer properties. Because celery contains oxalates, check with your vet before feeding to a pet with bladder stones. Celery can be safely stored up to two weeks in the fridge and may be fed raw or lightly sautéed.
- Eggs – the perfect protein for humans is also perfect for dogs and cats. It’s loaded with vitamins D, B2, B12, K and biotin, as well as the minerals calcium, selenium, iodine and phosphorus. It is recommend to feed free-range, organic, omega-3 enriched eggs whenever possible.
- Yogurt – Humans have been making yogurt since around 2,000 BC. While yogurt has often been regarded as a “health food” in the U.S., it’s a staple in Asia and Eastern Europe. We now know that the beneficial bacteria contained in yogurt are important not only in digestion, but also in promoting the immune system, fighting infections and even preventing cancer. It is recommended to feed your pet plain, unflavored yogurt at least once a week. There are also specific probiotics especially made for pets. Ask your vet for recommendations.
- Chickpeas– Chickpeas (aka. garbanzo beans) — they are the world’s most widely eaten legume. Their soluble fibers help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, keep the heart and arteries healthy, and promote proper digestion. These beans may also help protect against cancer and are excellent antioxidants. Dried chickpeas should be rinsed and soaked in water overnight, then boiled. Rinse and drain canned beans well to wash away excess salt. Chickpeas are appearing more frequently in commercial dog foods, and not just because of their health benefits — most dogs enjoy the way they taste!
Some other natural tasty snack treats specifically for your dog your include:
- Raw green beans
- Raw apple
- Raw pear
- Baby carrots
- Natural peanut butter
- Dehydrated sweet potato
Remember to follow this list of foods since not all fruits and vegetables are safe for pets and always check with your vet in the event of a specific health condition or allergy your pet may have.
In addition to healthy whole natural foods, remember to provide fresh filtered water (not from the tap which may have contaminants), lots of exercise, play time, and most of all lots of love and attention.
Happy Healthy Pets…..for life!
Lisa Golebieski, MS, Holistic Nutrition Consultant, Certified Health Coach
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