Fresh and Affordable Superfoods to Enhance Your Dog’s Commercial Diet
: Christie Roening, for TAP
Store-bought dog food can be healthy and convenient for your furry friend. But, did you know it can also be enhanced with wholesome, fresh food? Nutrition is the best way to support your dog in living a flourishing, healthy life so why not add a little pizazz to their dry or canned commercial food?
Let’s talk about inexpensive, delicious ways for your pup to enjoy their meals even more! First, we’ll discuss what not to do. After we have that out of the way, we’ll dig into the fun stuff and talk about food, portion sizes, and benefits.
Ready to Enhance Your Dog’s Food?
Don’t do this:
DON’T mix together foods without consulting your veterinarian first. Your dog may have an allergy, illness, or other ailment that additives, fresh or not, could exacerbate.
DON’T mix therapeutic foods, medicine, or pills with other food unless your vet approves.
DO ensure the food you’re adding is safe for your dog.
DO use appropriate portions of commercial and fresh food.
DO SLOWLY introduce fresh food to commercial food, to make sure your pup doesn’t have issues. Canine Journal provides an excellent guide of introducing new food:
Enhancers for Dry Kibble and Wet Canned Food: Bad Foods and Good Foods
Thankfully, there are several, tasty options to choose from that your pup will love! Unfortunately, there are also tasty foods that cannot be eaten. Read on for specifics.
Eggs – Add a cooked or raw egg (no shell!) as a great source of protein.
Yogurt – Non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt provides probiotics that are great for your pooch’s digestive system and just 1 – 2 teaspoons per 16 pounds will do. My dogs go nuts for this creamy treat!
Canned fish – Sardines and pink salmon are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that help keep a dog’s coat shiny and moisturized. Mix one small fish with a meal a day or a couple of times a week. If you get canned fish, make sure it’s in water! Soy, olive oil or salt may not be great for your pooch’s tummy.
Cottage cheese – For a medium sized dog, add 1 – 2 tablespoons a day to their meals for a calcium boost. Make sure your pup isn’t lactose intolerant, first.
Muscle Meat – Raw or slight cooked chicken, turkey, lean beef when mixed with their food, will provide extra nutrition for your pup. NEVER feed cooked bones as they are a MAJOR CHOKING HAZARD!
Kefir – Add 1-2 teaspoons for every 16 pounds of unflavored kefir daily. Kefir is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, with many added benefits. It may even help against nasty yeast infections!
Vegetables – Lettuce, carrots, broccoli, spinach, and frozen peas can be mixed with kibble or make terrific treats. Use small amounts of broccoli, as it can cause gas, and a ⅛ cup frozen peas for a medium-sized dog. Lettuce and spinach can be fed a few leaves a day. Leafy, green veggies are a hit with my hound dog, but not so much my picky beagle so it’s a matter of preference for your pup. For better digestion and nutrition absorption, steam them or blitz them in a mixer.
Fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, melon, and blueberries are nutritious and safe for dog consumption. Feed in small portions as fruit has a lot of natural sugar that could potentially cause health issues, if too much sugar is consumed. If you’re mixing with kibble, use only a fistfull of blueberries, a couple of chunks of melon or apple, and only two or three banana slices.
Pumpkin Puree – For a medium-sized dog, add a tablespoon of 100% pure canned pumpkin puree to kibble to improve digestive health, benefit eye health, and keep your dog’s coat healthy.
Now that we’ve covered tasty foods for your fur baby, let’s talk about what foods to avoid.
Avocados – Toxic to dogs, best to avoid feeding to your dog.
Grapes – Grapes and raisins are toxic for your pooch and can cause kidney failure.
Macadamia nuts – Toxic to dogs.
Mushrooms – Different types can cause various issues such as intestinal, kidney, and liver problems.
Onions – Can cause anemia in dogs.
Pacific Northwest raw fish – There are instances of salmon disease found in raw fish caught in the Pacific Northwest, that can be fatal to dogs.
Caffeine and Chocolate – Toxic, do not give to dogs.
Xylitol – A sugar-free sweetener commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum, some brands of peanut butter, certain baked goods, and other items safe for human consumption but NOT SAFE for dog consumption. Always check labels!