Apples are wonderful crunchy treats for your dog. Apples with the skin on are full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that are thought to be protective against some types of cancer in humans. Some dogs cannot process the apple skin, so it is best to remove before feeding. They are a source of vitamins A and C and fiber. Apple seeds, however, contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core. Though the effects of a few apple seeds will likely not harm your dog, the deleterious effects can accumulate over time if allowed to eat apple seeds regularly.
Eggs are a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin, and selenium. For some dogs that are prone to digestive upset, eggs can give them a little protein boost. Adding eggs to your dog’s food is a healthy treat. Make sure to use cooked whole egg, as raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency. If you do a lot of training with your dog, consider taking cooked eggs to your next class as training treats. The better the egg source the more value your dog will receive from the natural egg nutrients. Be sure eggs are fresh. See archive article on how to test for egg freshness. Alternatively, see cookbooks.
Flax seed (ground or oil) is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that are good for skin and coat. Whole flax seeds are best if ground right before feeding as this type of fat can go rancid quickly. Flax seed can also be added to your dog’s diet as a source of fiber. Flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega- 3 fatty acids without the fiber. Make sure that you store the oil or seeds in the fridge in an airtight dark container. Use Flax seed in moderation because it can soften the stool.
Green beans are a good source of plant fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese. If your dog has a tendency to put on weight, then replacing some of her regular food with green beans is a great low calorie way to fill her up and help her maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs enjoy green beans frozen. If beans are visible in the stool, be sure to par-boil or steam beans before feeding.
Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber. This can be beneficial for some older dogs that may have trouble maintaining bowel regularity. Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat. It can be fed in conjunction with probiotics to enhance their function. Keep in mind oatmeal should always be fed cooked and plain with no sugar or flavoring. As always, check with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they are on any medications. Upsetting the vitamin and mineral balances in your dog’s diet can have negative effects on your dog’s health and some medications interact badly with some nutrients. The aim of most dog owners is to give their dogs the best diet possible. Good nutrition coupled with a health care program may result in extending your dog’s life by as much as 15 percent. The suggestions above are not meant to replace your dog’s normal, balanced diet. Rather, they are ideas for alternative treats or for adding a little variety to your dog’s meals. Always overcook oatmeal and use 100% rolled oats.
Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and beta-carotene (a source of vitamin A). Dogs need fiber in their diet. The current trend is towards highly digestible diets that lower stool volume and this is not necessarily a good thing. Keeping the GI tract moving helps keep the cells lining the gut healthy. See archive article on pumpkin.
Salmon is a fatty fish that is also a good source of omega- 3 fatty acids. These fats support the immune system and can be beneficial for skin and coat health. There has also been some indication that they may benefit dogs with allergies. You can feed salmon or salmon oil. If feeding salmon, make sure it is cooked well before serving, as raw salmon can carry a parasite that can make your dog sick. Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules are an excellent alternative but use a reliable source manufacturer.
Sweet potatoes are another source of dietary fiber and contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. Sweet potatoes are great sliced and dehydrated as a chewy treat for your dog. There are so many dog treats on the market that we often overlook the simple, healthy, and reasonably priced treats available at our grocery store and easily made in your own kitchen. Be sure to overcook all potatoes.
Yogurt is a good source of available calcium and protein. When choosing yogurt, pick one that has live active bacteria and no sugars or artificial sweeteners. The active bacteria may act as probiotics. If your pooch is pudgy, make sure that you pick fat-free yogurt but not one that contains fat substitutes (e.g., Simplesse or Olestra). Frozen yogurt is a nice summer treat for dogs. Greek yogurts are popular and are generally “richer” in content and texture. Some dogs cannot process dairy products and may have issues with Greek yogurt more than with regular plain yogurt. Dogs can have intolerance to lactose, so use caution.