A client and I recently had a discussion on pet nutrition. She was feeding her dog Hill’s Science Diet and heard from a Facebook group about the problems associated with that particular brand. The concept of ‘people food’ came up and we both laughed as we discussed ‘people food’ is just food and our pets can benefit from many of the real foods we eat. By real foods, I’m referring to food which is virtually unprocessed like fresh vegetables and fruit, raw bones and meat. As I mentioned earlier, humans, dogs and cats, are all mammals and all have similar dietary requirements with some exceptions and restrictions because of health, species, age and allergies. Foods like chocolate, onions and grapes, for example are dangerous for our pets. Other than a few exceptions, including the ones I mentioned, much of what is good for us, is also beneficial for our furry friends.
The Western Diet, which demonizes fats, but struggles with finding the balance in carbohydrates contributes to the obesity problems not only for us, but also for our dogs and cats. Dogs, are mostly carnivorous and an overabundance of carbohydrates in their pet food or snacks or otherwise supplemented in the diet is overkill. All mammals can produce carbohydrates within their bodily processes (including humans) and more of the dietary focus can shift towards, real proteins and fats, vegetables and some fruit.
Sweet Potatoes are rich in fiber, manganese and Vitamin A. Particularly, Beta Carotene being the most concentrated form of the vitamin is found in vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin and other yellow/orange vegetables. Vitamin A is also highly concentrated in the liver of animals. Dogs, like humans can convert the vitamin into useful properties within the body for necessary functions like protecting vision and preventing cancer. Since, Vitamin A doesn’t break down when cooked, any pet guardian can incorporate sweet potatoes into their pet’s diet. You can dehydrate strips or slices of sweet potato as jerky or you can simply bake a sweet potato, let it cool, mash it up and supplement your dog’s dinner. Since, the vegetable is fibrous, too much can make your dog’s stomach a bit upset. I would suggest trying a bit at a time, first seeing if you’re dog enjoys it and secondly, making sure your dog doesn’t have any adverse reactions. I usually split a medium sized sweet potato between both my dogs for two meals apiece. I know Jack has more sensitivities with food, so I’m more careful with him.
Carrots, are also rich in Vitamin A and offer the same benefits as sweet potatoes, but may cause less distress than its counterpart. Since carrots are fibrous, I reduce the amount of the grain free pet food and add chopped carrots for Jack and Bernie in their dinner. The addition of carrots helps with keeping obesity away. The fiber keeps them feeling full longer since it takes longer to digest it. At times, I offer them a carrot apiece as a healthy snack. It helps clean their teeth and provides healthy benefits!
We are what we eat and the same goes with our pets 🙂 If you make any dietary changes, make sure you consult with a professional before doing so and know your pet’s health history!