Like the parents of two-legged children, pet parents are often concerned about feeding their furry friends a healthy diet. If you’ve ever struggled to find nutritious snacks to feed your pet, rest assured there are many healthy, pet-friendly foods from which to choose. Some of them just might surprise you.
Healthier Choices for Treating & Feeding Pets
by Sloan McKinney
For parents with two-legged children, sometimes it can be difficult to ensure they consume enough healthy foods in their diets, especially fruits and vegetables. The same is true for parents of our four-legged friends. Many families struggle to find healthy treat and food options for their pets. With weight gain and obesity a growing problem for today’s pet population, feeding and rewarding them with healthier, less fattening food and treat options is a good choice. What might be surprising is just how many healthy choices your pets may enjoy.
Treat Them with Veggies
When it comes to treat time, change things up with a few veggies. For example, some dogs think carrots are actually a flavorful chew toy and will gnaw on them until there’s nothing left. Giving your cat some steamed broccoli florets to chew is an option to distract them from chewing on your leafy houseplants.
Experiment With Different Choices
While your dog or cat might not like carrots, perhaps they’ll love cantaloupe. Both options have healthy rewards to offer them, but you’ll never know what they might enjoy until you try. Other “superfoods” and healthier feeding options for our pets include berries, apples (without the seeds), bananas, spinach, watermelon (again-seedless), sweet potatoes, and popcorn (with no added butter or salt). If your dog or cat doesn’t enjoy eating a certain type of fruit or vegetable when first handed to them, you can still introduce these healthier choices into their diet in other creative ways. You can add a bit of mashed, steamed vegetables or finely chopped fruits into their regular food supply and they’re likely to not to even notice the difference.
Foods To Avoid
Similar to chocolate and other toxins when it comes to our pets, some options that may appear to be healthy may be dangerous for our animals:
- Grapes and raisins contain toxics that are dangerous for dogs
- Onions and garlic should both be avoided for dogs and cats
- Acidic tomatoes don’t agree with canines or kitties
- Mushrooms, particularly wild ones, aren’t good for animals to ingest
- Nuts, especially macadamia nuts, are also toxic for pets
Avoid giving animals fruits with that contain pits, such as peaches, cherries, and plums. Not only are this bad for them in general, they also pose an obvious choking hazard.
Begin With Moderation
Don’t give your precious pet too much of any one good thing right out of the gate. Start out with small doses at first, such as just one berry or a small leaf of spinach or lettuce. If your animal accepts it, wait a few days and look for possible reactions, including itchy skin or gastric distresses like diarrhea, constipation or flatulence.
You should always consult your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, but most will agree that healthier options are better. Just like their human companions, our pets will enjoy longer and happier lives with better, healthier trets and meals.
*Cats generally do not like fruit, as they lack the receptors for sweetness.