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Enhancing Your Dog's Diet for Better Health

Zuke's veterinarian provides advice on food you can add to your dog's diet to improve their health.

Summer is a time when we often think about improving our health since we're outside and generally more active than in cooler months. It's also a good time to think about what you can do to give your dog's overall health a boost. One easy way to do this is making some changes to his or her diet.

In a recent blog by Dr. Jennifer Deming on the Zuke's website, she suggests three easy additions to your dog's diet:

The first is adding in fruits and vegetables to your dog's daily diet. There are several benefits - fruits and vegetables are a natural source of fiber, which improves digestion and is also great for dog's with anal gland issues. They can provide additional nutrients and vitamins to your dog's daily diet and also can make your dog feel fuller after a meal. Some vegetables and fruits that are good for dogs include:

  • Apples (no seeds or core though!)
  • Basil
  • Berries
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Cilantro
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Melon
  • Parsley
  • Peppers (Bell)

You can also feed fruits such as bananas and citrus, but these are very high in sugar so do so in moderation. Sweet potatoes and potatoes are also safe for dogs but should also be fed in moderation due to their high starch content.

On the flip side, there are definitely fruits and vegetables to avoid at all costs as they can be hazardous to dogs. These include:

  • Avocados, specifically the pit (the flesh is fine, but also high in fat so feed in moderation)
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Scallions
  • Shallots

PetMd also has a comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables safe for your dogs on their website.

Another dietary way to improve your dog's health is to look at the type of treats you are feeding them. If you use a lot of grocery store-bought treats, particularly ones that appear similar to bacon or sausages, you are feeding your dog a lot of calories but very little nutritional value. Dr. Deming also cautions against any jerky treats made outside the country as these have been known to cause toxicity and even death in dogs. Look for high quality treats with good ingredients and few preservatives. Another great option is, if you have a dehydrator, you can make your own dog treats using many of the fruits and vegetables listed above! Here's a post from The Bark with some dehydrator treat ideas for dogs.

The Whole Dog Journal has a guide for picking good quality treats as well. They recommend looking at the ingredient list to look for "whole food ingredients." In other words, "chicken" is a much better ingredient than "chicken meal" or "chicken by products," or "wheat" is better than "wheat flour," and so on. Ingredients that are problematic include artificial colors and preservatives and chemical humectants (such as propylene glycol).

Her third recommendation is to look at foods specifically created for medical issues that your dog may have. There are many dog food options on the market today for issues such as arthritis, allergies, gastrointestinal issues and more. There are also a variety of supplements you can purchase for your dog such as glucosamine tablets (such as the ones made by Gycoflex) and probiotics, to name a few.

These are just a few great ideas to implement to make your dog healthier and happier!

Photo credit: Skye, the White Alsatian via photopin (license)

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