There are certain foods that we feel compelled to feed our dogs. Kibbles and bits are one such thing they’re basically just fancy words for “treat.” But not all treats are created equal. Even though kibbles might seem like an easy way to give Fido some extra nutrition, there are things you should know before giving them to your pet.
First off, let’s talk about why dogs need food in the first place. They don’t actually need it as much as humans do, because their bodies metabolize everything they consume.
That being said, dogs still require three basic nutrients from food: carbohydrates (energy), protein (building blocks) and fat (essential fatty acids). Their nutritional needs can vary depending on age, breed, metabolism and activity level.
When choosing a diet for your dog, keep these factors in mind. There are plenty of commercial and homemade options out there for fussy eaters like yours truly. You’ll want to make sure your pooch gets enough protein, vitamins and minerals, which varies by the type of food you choose. A great source for information on selecting the right food for your dog is the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines.
Why Dogs Need Bread?
A lot of people think bread is bad for dogs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, dogs have been known to enjoy eating bread occasionally, especially if it’s made with whole grains.
According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ILUCN), wild wolves will sometimes eat grasses, leaves and other plant parts when they’re feeling peckish. This behavior has also been seen in domesticated animals including cats and dogs. However, most wolf packs prefer more nutritionally complete fare.
In 2007, scientists discovered that dogs can digest wheat gluten more easily than other types of proteins found in wheat. Gluten is a substance produced during the fermentation process of making flour into dough. It gives baked goods their elasticity and helps hold ingredients together so they form a cohesive structure. When your dog eats bread, he or she essentially chews on gluetain.
Other common grains that dogs may enjoy include rice, barley, rye, corn and oat bran. If you have a picky eater who prefers a bland palate, try mixing it up and feeding him or her something different every day. Some other ideas include sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and peas.
Just remember that if you add vegetables, make sure you remove any large chunks of leaf matter since they could choke your dog. For those worried that their beloved hound won’t get enough fiber from bread, rest assured that bread can provide dogs with ample amounts of dietary fiber.
Fiber is important for digestion and plays an essential role in keeping intestinal bacteria under control. Without sufficient levels of soluble fiber, however, too much insoluble fiber can cause problems such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating.
If your pooch loves bread, you probably love it, too. On the next page, learn how to create healthy meals for your best friend without sacrificing flavor. It’s not uncommon for dogs to develop gastrointestinal issues that result from consuming raw meat and bones.
Raw meats contain enzymes that help break down proteins, but cooking kills these digestive helpers. Cooking destroys enzyme activity, leaving your pup vulnerable to harmful pathogens and parasites. Although the risk is low, cooking meat properly does reduce the likelihood of contamination.
Making Your Own Pup-friendly Meals
Most experts agree that the best way to ensure your dog receives adequate doses of vitamins and minerals is through fresh fruits and veggies. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t exactly adept at chewing broccoli stems and cabbage leaves. To solve this problem, consider supplementing your canine companion’s diet with canned or frozen versions of produce.
You can also prepare high-quality recipes specifically designed for dogs. According to the National Dietetic Association, there are hundreds of treat recipes available online and in books. However, before you whip up anything special for your four-legged pal, check out the USDA’s Food Data Sheet for specific recommendations based on your pet’s unique health requirements.
Dogs need lots of water, so always offer clean drinking bowls. Dry food usually takes longer to finish, so you’ll want to gradually increase the amount over time. Also, avoid giving large quantities of dry food at once, since it may upset your dog’s stomach. Instead, feed smaller amounts throughout the day.
One last note regarding food preparation: Don’t use table salt unless directed otherwise by a veterinarian. This isn’t true for all pets, but according to the ASPCA, dogs are particularly sensitive to sodium chloride. The organization recommends using organic sea salts instead of ordinary table salt. On the next page, find out where to go looking for delicious alternatives to everyday snacks.
Although it sounds strange, adding garlic, onion and hot peppers to dog food can improve its taste. The heat stimulates saliva production, which causes moisture to evaporate from the surface of the food. As a result, the flavors become stronger.
The Best Treats For Your Dog’s Meal
Dogs are carnivores, so they naturally crave meat. Since beef is typically the main ingredient in commercially prepared dog biscuits, it makes sense that owners would frown upon serving their pups leftover steak tartare. Luckily, there are plenty of tasty alternatives to keep your pet happy without worrying about cholesterol. Here are some tips for creating yummy yet nutritious meals:
Use lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, turkey and eggs. Avoid red meat and processed meats, since they tend to pack on the pounds. Choose organically raised poultry products whenever possible.
Make sure your dog gets enough omega-3 fats by incorporating flaxseed oil or walnuts into his or her daily meal plan. Be careful when introducing new foods to your dog. Start with small portions to prevent vomiting and diarrhea.
Avoid feeding chocolate, caffeine and alcohol to your dog. These substances can adversely affect both their physical and mental health.
Keep in mind that some pet foods are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Check the label for specifics. And finally, here’s a quick list of some popular snack items for dogs:
Sliced hard salami
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Mix and match your favorite treats and snacks and see how your dog reacts. Most importantly, stay away from treats containing xylitol, sorbitol or hydrogenated oils. All three of these ingredients have been linked to kidney disease in dogs.