Affordable Healthy Diet for Dogs Part 1: 6 Ideas for Dog Treats
You love your dog, so you want to give him or her the healthiest and longest life possible. One of the best ways to ensure this is to feed your dog a nutritious diet filled with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. But feeding your dog a healthy diet can seem intimidating at first, and possibly expensive.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to be making some easy, yet affordable suggestions for ways to improve your dog’s diet. It’s best to introduce changes to your dog’s diet slowly and not overwhelm their gastrointestinal system with a lot of new foods.
For the first entry in our series, we’re going to discuss dog treats. When you walk through the dog treat aisle of your local pet store or supermarket, you’ll see a variety of treats that are designed to appeal to humans. It’s a lot of fun to feed your dog a treat that looks like sausage, bacon, or a miniature steak, and your dog seems to enjoy them so much.
Yet, if you examine the nutritional information on those cute treats, you’ll find they are filled with unhealthy fats and empty carbohydrates, and they are devoid of any vitamins and minerals. They are essentially “junk food” for dogs.
In order to properly fuel your dog’s body, it is better to feed them nutritious fruits and vegetables in the place of “junk food” treats. But be careful, not every fruit or vegetable that humans eat is safe for dogs. To make things easy for yourself, cut them up ahead of time and keep a baggy or small container in an easily accessible part of the refrigerator. That way, they are as easy to reach for as any bagged treat.
Here are some ideas for healthy, affordable, and safe treats you can try at home. You may need to try a number of them out to find one your dog likes, depending on how picky of an eater they are.
Baby carrots are a great training reward for dogs. They are low calorie, so they are perfect for dogs who need to watch their weight. Baby carrots are also loaded with carotenoids, fiber, Vitamin C and K, and potassium. Your dog will love how crunchy they are, and the abrasive crunch can help remove plaque from their teeth!
Make sure you thoroughly wash all carrots before feeding them to your dog to remove dirt and pesticides.
Either boiled or raw Broccoli is another excellent low calorie, low fat snack that offers high levels of fiber and vitamin C. Dogs find the crunch of raw broccoli especially satisfying. Do be careful to limit the amount of broccoli you feed your pup because broccoli contains isothiocyanates, and too much at once can cause gastric problems. Also, if you decided to feed your pup broccoli stalk, cut it up into small pieces so it’s not a choking hazard.
- Canned Sardines
A lot of people are aware of the health benefits of fish oil. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are great for keeping your pup’s skin and hair healthy. Sardines are affordable and low in contaminants, and thus make a great option for a doggie snack!
Cut up canned sardines and throw them in the freezer. Many people know cats love the smell and taste of fish, but you might be surprised by how wild your dog goes for them! Packaged sardines are quite cheap and can be found in your local supermarket and many online retailers as well.
For more information on feeding sardines to your dog, check out this video:
- Bell Peppers
Many dogs enjoy the taste of Bell Peppers, whether they are cooked or raw. They are a good source of nutrients, being rich in carotenoids, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and E. Try feeding your dog a small slice the next time you’re chopping one up and see how they react. Red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers are all ok for dogs to eat.
If you do give your dog cooked bell peppers, make sure they weren’t cooked with garlic or onions as these are toxic to dogs.
- Green Beans
Green beans are a veterinarian recommended treat for your dog, as well as being super healthy. They are packed with important vitamins and minerals, such as protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. Green beans are also full of fiber and are low in calories, which can help dogs (and humans!) feel full when they are dieting.
Whether they are chopped, steamed, raw, or canned, all types of green beans are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they are plain. To make sure that green beans are safe for your dog, be sure to AVOID the following:
- Canned beans with added salt
- Green beans cooked with oils and spices
- Green beans cooked with vegetables that are toxic to dogs, such as garlic and onions
- Feeding large, whole green beans to dogs, which are a choking hazard
Cucumbers are an especially good treat for overweight dogs, since they have little to no carbohydrates, fats, or oils and are very low calorie. They’re loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin. Cucumbers only contain about 8 calories per one-half cup of slices, compared to the 40 calories in a single medium dog biscuit, and are very low in sodium and fat. Most dogs enjoy the crunchy and find them refreshing on a warm summer day.
Have you tried out any new, natural, and healthy dog treats for your dog? Leave a comment below!