Everywhere I look I see another list of foods that are toxic to dogs. Yes, the information is important, but it’s quite easy to cover in a sentence: No chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, mace, nutmeg, or raw fish, and nothing you wouldn’t eat yourself (moldy foods, raw yeast dough, pits from fruit). There, done.
However, with all the focus on what not to feed, there’s rarely any mention of what you can and should be adding to your dog’s diet. Here are the top 10 foods you should be adding to your dog’s bowl:
1. Scrambled Eggs. One egg replaces 1/5 of a cup of dry dog food but adds in high quality protein. Got eggs high in Omega-3s? Even better.
2. Fish.Yes, raw fish––particularly trout and salmon from the Pacific Northwest––can be dangerous for pets, but a little tuna fish (or better yet, sardines) can add a good boost of Omega-3s and protein to your dog’s diet.
3. Chicken hearts & gizzards. Bring to a boil in a pot of water and simmer for 15 minutes and you get the benefits of a nice, meaty addition to a dog’s bowl, and a potent broth that will make tails wag. These cheap little morsels are packed with protein and simple to prepare (don’t worry, they’re not that gross). Substitute an equal measure of dry food, up to 1/4 of your dog’s meal.
4. Yogurt. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon plain yogurt per 10 pounds of body weight in your dog’s bowl for a delicious topping filled with beneficial probiotics.
5. Green Stuff. A sprinkling of parsley mixed into dry food provides cancer fighting phytochemicals that are missing from commercial foods. Adding chopped spinach may help dogs refrain from eating feces. In addition, super-healthy kale is a surprising favorite of many dogs––like with the other greens, it helps if you chop it up and add it to their food rather than feeding them a whole leaf.
6. Pumpkin & Squash. When you’re roasting these for your own dinner, set aside a little of the finished product before adding salt and pepper and provide your dog with a nice dose of beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and selenium. Pumpkin and squash are low in calories and help to keep a dog on a diet full; they also help ease digestive tension and nausea. One tablespoon per 10 pounds of body weight is a nice amount to serve per day; serve in addition to your dog’s normal diet.
7. Blueberries. These are antioxidant powerhouses that help fight disease and will turn your dog’s tongue a hilarious purple. Sometimes dogs don’t like the resistant skin, so cut the blueberries in half and add two-three per 10 pounds of body weight to your dog’s bowl.
8. Roasted Beets. Now in season, beets are a yummy source of betalains––phytochemicals with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying properties. One teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight will liven up the food bowl.
9. Carrots & Green Beans. Looking for some healthy treat substitutes? Try freshly cut-up carrots, or fresh or frozen green beans (avoid sodium packed canned green beans).
10. Cheerios as a training treat. Non-greasy, low in calories, and just as effective as cheese in getting your dog to listen. Just make sure to use the plain kind, not the sugar-laden varieties.
All these foods are great for you too, so as long as you’ve got them on the cutting board go ahead and feel confident in sharing with your best friend.
Rick Woodford, a.k.a. “The Dog Food Dude,” is an expert on pet nutrition and wellness. He is the author of Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs (available for purchase on Amazon), a comprehensive collection of simple and nutritious recipes perfect for the busy pet parent on a budget.