For most of us, our dogs are members of the family. They rely on us, they are there when we need them, and they even share the bed with some of us. They greet us with wagging tails and sloppy kisses and act like we are the best thing in their lives — which we probably are, except for maybe their favorite ball. In order to keep our fuzzy family members healthy, it’s important to keep their nutrition in mind. What our dogs eat is a major factor in health, weight, and happiness for our animals. If we keep track of our diet and exercise, we have to keep track of that for our pets as well.
The Importance of Nutrition
The first thing to consider when discussing your pups health is their dog food. There are a ton of different brands and types out there which can be overwhelming when deciding on a food. You can go with dry, wet, homemade, raw, or frozen options, but you’ll need to know a few key characteristics for a healthy dog food. Make sure you are feeding your dog food that has a high percentage of meat-based protein, low in carbs, free of byproducts, and lower in carbs. One issue with some commercial dry dog food is the high use of carbs and byproducts and not enough protein and essential fats. Watch their portions, stay away from feeding them unhealthy scraps, and make sure they exercise.
Ingredients to be Cautions About
There are so many ingredients to be cautious about; not only in their commercial dog food, but also in any food you make for them. In making homemade dog food or treats for your pup there are some food products to keep your dog away from. Chocolate and alcohol are obvious things to keep away from your pup, but caffeine, macadamia nuts, avocado, grapes, and raisins are all very harmful to your dog and should be avoided. Xylitol is an ingredient used as a sweetener in many products like gum, baked goods, and toothpaste. It is extremely toxic and can lead to liver failure so read your labels and be mindful of anything your pup eats or can get into.
Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Peanut butter is a great treat for dogs. It’s high in protein, fats, and oils and dogs love it. This makes it a prime key ingredient in treats you can make for your pup at home. Be sure to check your peanut butter labels for xylitol. Most brands don’t utilize xylitol, but a few specialty brands do. Here is an easy peanut butter treat recipe you can use so that your pup can have a healthy snack:
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup hot water
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine the ingredients and mix carefully by hand until dough is created. If it’s too dry it’s okay to add more water or add more flour if it’s too wet as needed. Roll the dough out on the counter and flatten with hands or rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter and place the pieces you cut out on the greased cookie sheet. If the dough becomes sticky, add more flour. Bake them for 20 minutes and allow them to cool before offering them to your pup. Keep them in the fridge in a container and they will keep for about 3 weeks.
Pumpkin Dog Treats
Pumpkin is full of fiber, has a ton of great vitamins, and tastes like heaven for your pooch. Many vets suggest the use of pumpkin to help dogs with digestive issues because it is high fiber content and is extremely hydrating. Here is an easy pumpkin treat recipe you can use so that your pup can have a healthy pumpkin snack:
- One can of pure pumpkin puree
- One egg
- Whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine pumpkin, cinnamon, and egg in a bowl and hand mix well. Add ½ cup of flour at a time and knead until dough forms. Add more flour if the dough is sticky. Roll the dough out on the counter and flatten with hands or rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter and place the pieces you cut out on the greased cookie sheet. Bake them for 30 minutes and allow them to cool before offering them to your pup. Keep them in the fridge in a container and they will keep for about 3 weeks.
Fruit and Veggie Sticks
Fruits and veggies aren’t exactly the ingredients we think of when we imagine a canine’s diet, but both are important and well-liked by dogs everywhere. Fruits and veggies are packed full of vitamins that your dog needs and these treats are sure to be a top favorite. Here is an easy fruit and veggie treat recipe you can use:
- ¼ cup of sugar free apple sauce
- 1 shredded carrot
- ½ cup of pumpkin puree
- 1 mashed banana
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 cup of oats
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Mix all the ingredients well by hand. Spread the mixture onto the cookie sheet by hand about ¼ inch thick. Take a pizza cutter and cut the dough into sticks. Bake them for 25 minutes, break them into pieces, and allow them to cool. Keep them in the fridge in a container and they will keep for about 3 weeks.
For the fuzziest and most loving members of the family it’s so important to make sure they are staying healthy and getting all of the things they need to maintain their health. They rely on us to make the best decisions for them and we aren’t doing them any favors by giving them leftover french-fries, no matter how happy they look when we offer it to them. We need to watch our health as well as theirs and treats to see their smiles don’t have to be unhealthy. The three recipes for treats mentioned before are all healthy and easy alternatives for your pup. So invite them in bed, spoil them with kisses, and buy them too many tennis balls, but don’t spoil them with unhealthy food.