Most people begin to panic when cooking for their pets is mentioned, but let's keep it simple for the sake of your busy life and your pet's nutritional needs. I'm not a purist about diets, I don't do totally "raw" for my dogs, I don't think it's necessary and I simply don't have time or energy. I use lots of common sense and often that simply requires preparing a bit extra when I'm having a dinner that's pet-friendly.
From broccoli to brussel sprouts, and cauliflower to carrots, the imaginative pet owner can gradually begin to include life-giving foods which can eventually replace a part or all of the lifeless stuff from the pet store. Even if you are only able to use "people food" as a topping, (yes I said PEOPLE FOOD), supplementing naturally will go a long way to help your pet stay healthy.
By the way, I'm not the only pet professional who's decided to change the way I look at dog foods, here's a quote from Dogs Naturally Magazine
"Despite what you’ve heard from friends, vets and pet food manufacturers, wholesome ”people food” is good for dogs. People food is only bad for dog food makers... Improving your dog’s diet can add years to your dog’s life and save you a fortune. It doesn’t require a lot of work or expense. It just requires a little knowledge and the desire to give your dog the healthy body he or she deserves." Jan Rasmussen
Important: Don't forget, there are people foods that pets shouldn't have, chocolate of course tops everyone's lists. Onions should be avoided, but things like garlic in moderation are fine. I'm not including an exhaustive list here, but an upcoming post will cover the basics. In the meantime, if you are in doubt, it's easy to do a search for safe people food for pets, or again, ask your vet if you are a complete novice. A short list of foods to be avoided for pets:
- Raisins or grapes
Remember, a balanced diet needs to include the right vitamins and minerals, the best most bioavailable forms of those are not the chemical broth that is baked into that dry kibble, but ones that you add yourself on a daily basis to keep your pet's diet nutritionally complete.
I use probiotics for my dogs every single day (I take them too actually). I always feel icky sending people to purchase either other companies products or my own but I promise you this, any product I recommend will be a great one. I'd rather refer you to what I know are amazing products so why send you to buy ones that I don't believe in or haven't by experience been successful with? That being said, you don't have to purchase my probiotics or vitamins, if you have a favorite brand and it's potent and helping your pet, by all means, continue to use it, just be sure to use something!
IF you don't have a clue what to use and want my recommendations for the products I use every day I'd start with Probiotic Dog Essentials which provides a host of nutritious ingredients including 72 trace minerals, my other go-to is a product that helps pets detoxify and supports immune health Agatha's Elixir.
Tips for changing to a more wholesome diet for your pet with a qualifier and a disclaimer.
Though I've got decades of experience with hundreds of pets, only you and your veterinarian know your dog and her unique health issues and needs. These statements are not intended to prevent or heal disease (though I strongly believe for my own clients and my pets they have done exactly that).
If you have any concerns, please speak to your vet and hopefully get his blessings on your new efforts to improve your dog's diet. Be forewarned: Unless your vet is open to more holistic and natural methods, he or she may be resistant and even opposed to change. Happily, it's easier to find veterinarians now who agree that we need to change the way we feed our pets. My veterinarian is understanding and even encouraging about the changes I've made. I hope yours will be as well.
- Of course, make any changes to your pet's diet slowly. Watch for signs of a digestive upset like loose stool or gas. Typically these are temporary, but if you are cautious and make only the changes your pet tolerates over weeks and even a month or two it should keep upsets to a minimum.
Some pets are thrilled about the changes in their diets to include real foods, but take it slow there too. Dogs can be like children, some accept new things with enthusiasm, some are more cautious and even suspicious of change. If your dog is a typically a picky eater, expect resistance to the new agenda. Don't be too obvious and (if your dog senses a plot to take away the kibble that he's become addicted to over time, you'll be hard pressed to change his mind that veggies are his friend).
The other night we were having beef stew, it had been simmering for hours on the back of the stove and Agatha was on the kitchen rug nearby, snoozing (guarding the stove actually) we all were thrilled when dinnertime rolled around. She hopped to her feet knowing that that some of that savory stew was headed to her bowl for a dog's dinner a hundred times more nourishing than that dry dog food she used to exist on.
I hope this encourages you to start your own good dog on her way to better health.
(Agatha say's she doesn't miss that dusty bag of dry kibble one bit.)