These Foods Make Great Pet Treats
Considering the recent contaminated dog treat health scare, pet owners should focus on providing healthy, non-toxic treats. There are many human foods that can be fed to our companions providing nutrition that is free of poor quality ingredients and potential toxins found that are found in most pet grade foods. Whole food treats such as fruits and vegetables can provide a combination of natural anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Fresh or frozen fruits can be given as a healthy, refreshing snack. Apple, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, pear, raspberry, strawberry, and watermelon top my list because they’re in nearly every grocery store regardless of the season.
Sweet fruits tend to be more appealing to pets than those that are bland or bitter. Ripening typically enhances a fruit’s sweetness. Outer skins (banana, melon) should be removed to reveal the inner fruit substance. Fruit can also be mashed or pureed and added to your cat or dog’s normal food.
Not all fruits make appropriate snacks for pets. Avoid grapes and raisins, which have an unknown toxic effect on some dogs’ kidneys. Also, dried fruits are calorically dense and can contain preservatives, so stick with whole, fresh fruits.
A variety of vegetables are available that provide a multitude of beneficial nutrients not found in commercially available pet foods. Those grown above ground like cauliflower, cucumber, mushrooms, spinach, and tomato tend to be high in moisture and low in calories. Conversely, vegetables grown underground like white and sweet potato, turnips, and carrots, typically have less moisture and a higher caloric density. Both options can benefit your pet’s digestive and overall health, but I suggest the veggies that grow above ground.
If your pet resists eating raw vegetables, then lightly steam and mash them to easily add to the existing food. Cooked vegetables are easier to digest and less likely to induce gas. If preparing potatoes, remove the eyes and cook before serving. Baby foods can also be provided to your pets so long as they do not contain onion powder, starch, and other additives.
The fiber found in fruit and vegetables can help fill your pet’s stomach so that portions of dry or canned pet food can be reduced. In doing so, weight loss and maintenance can occur without your pet experiencing the unpleasant sensation of food deprivation.
The FDA offers helpful tips on produce safety, including purchasing, storing and preparing. Thoroughly washing fruit and vegetables with soap and water can help remove environmental debris and infectious organisms.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) provides information on flowers and plants (including fruit and vegetables) that are toxic to pets. Before feeding your friend a new fruit or vegetable, confirm the food’s safety.