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10 Ways to Liven up Your Dog’s Dinner

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10 Ways to Liven up Your Dog’s Dinner

If you’re going to feed your dogs “people” food, shouldn’t you feed them something that’s actually good for them? Here are some healthy, easily obtainable options straight from market shelves that can be added to spice up your pup’s regular fare. There are, of course, a few cautions to keep in mind. First, none of these items by themselves constitutes a “complete and balanced” meal, and if your dog has health or weight issues, check with your vet before introducing them. Next, considering that many dogs are willing to eat almost anything they find, they can be surprisingly fussy about new things in their food bowls; start with a small portion to see if it’s a go… or no. And finally, always introduce new foods gradually. Look for 10 more “easy pieces” in the next issue.

1. Banana
High in potassium (great for muscle and blood vessel function as well as for regulating the acidity of body fluids), fiber (a handy home remedy for the occasional bout of doggy diarrhea or constipation) and magnesium (important for energy transport and protein building in the body). Bananas have lots of pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), which helps metabolize proteins and regulates blood cell function so the blood can bring more oxygen to the brain and muscle. They also contain Vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and helps build cartilage. Pup Prep: Mash a banana and mix it in with your dog’s food. Be forewarned that the compounds in bananas that make them smell banana-y are offensive to some canines.

2. Rutabaga
A sorely ignored veggie, similar to a turnip. Rutabagas are very good boiled and mashed. They’re available year-round in most grocery stores and keep well. Their high levels of Vitamin C, potassium and carotenoids (precursors to Vitamin A) aid eye health and maintenance of DNA activation in cells. They are also important in immune system function and have a number of lesser-known phytochemicals, which are shown to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases associated with aging. Pup Prep: Peel, boil and mash the rutabaga, then add a little bit of safflower or olive oil; these oils are not harmful to dogs, who need fats and handle them far better than do humans.

3. Sweet Potato
Loaded with nutrients, such as the carotenoids and Vitamin C, in addition to some lesser known antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are high in pyridoxine, potassium, fiber and magnesium. They also are good sources of copper, iron and manganese–all essential minerals that perform myriad functions in cells, from transporting oxygen to assisting in the assembly of proteins. Pup Prep: As with rutabaga, boil, mash and add a bit of good oil.

4. Flaxseeds
Small seeds–known for their alpha linolenic acid (ALA) content and benefits to coat, skin, bone and brain function–that pack a big nutritional punch. These seeds are also high in fiber and lignans (a fiber type), which may be beneficial for insulin action. They are a great source of manganese, pyridoxine, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. They also contain the B vitamin folate, which is important for cell regulation. Pup Prep: Grind fresh flaxseeds, which are nutty and crunchy; flaxseed oil is also available in most health food stores and contains a more concentrated amount of ALA. Add the ground seeds or a teaspoon of oil to your dog’s food and increase the nutrient density of any meal. (Note: Store in refrigerator to maintain freshness.)

5. Yogurt
Active cultures known as probiotics (necessary, friendly bacteria) help keep the bad bacteria away. Yogurt, which may improve gut function, contains a number of nutrients, including protein, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B12, potassium, zinc and iodine. It is also a fair source of other B vitamins such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid (required for enzyme action and energy production, as well as other cellular functions). Pup Prep: A dollop of non-fat yogurt is a great way to disguise some yucky medicines.

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Read more: Dogs, Pets, , ,

By Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, The Bark

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8:20PM PST on Mar 7, 2015

The Can Dogs Eat Free website is now released! Check out our website at

Our free website and mobile app with 495+ food and drink products is a comprehensive quick reference guide to what products are dangerous or safe for dogs to eat.

Apologies for the second post could not edit first.

5:30AM PST on Nov 22, 2014

My partner and I have built an Android app "Can Dogs Eat" that is a comprehensive quick reference guide to what human foods and drinks are dangerous or safe for dogs to eat that dog owners can have on hand anywhere, anytime.

The idea for the app was prompted by a scary experience earlier this year when a friend's puppy wolfed down a bowl of macadamia nuts before any of us could react (Charlie Brown the Chocolate Lab made a full recovery after an expensive emergency trip to the vet to induce vomiting).

It has a huge database containing common food and drink products (currently over 400+) and allows you to simply search for a specific product or alternatively, scroll or swipe through the alphabetical list. Every food or drink product is categorised as SAFE, CAUTION or NOT SAFE with additional detailed information given where necessary.
The database updates each time you open the app – meaning you get the most up-to-date information available on what human foods are safe for your pet, straight to your mobile or tablet device.
We would be so grateful for your support to help us get this project off the ground.

You can download from the Google PlayStore using this link:

We also made a Facebook page which you can like:

IOS and Windows Phone versions coming soon, along with a website. Like our Facebook page to be notified of

1:53PM PDT on Sep 5, 2014

apples and pears , as long as you take the pips out the dogs love them

3:05AM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

Thanks, I had not thought about some of these.have to try.

6:04AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Thank you.

8:38AM PST on Feb 13, 2014

My dog is crazy about seaweed and dried bananas when going hiking-THANKS

12:31AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Hi Deborah ~thanks for your comments.Nice to hear from you.Your GSD cerainly looks good on it! I am thinking of trying sweet potatoes and will check what other veg Boxers can eat and we will all try them with dinner.
I had one of my Boxers get Liver Cancer which they are prone to and we kept him going feeding him cooked best salmon and chicken breasts and rice for nearly a year .
I am sure years ago the food was more natural and you didn't have to worry about it coming in from goodness knows where full of water and goodness knows what else!The price we pay for cheaper food!

4:05PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Arlene M. -- I cook for my German Shepherd Dog, too. Rice, meat, and squash (pumpkin or butternut or acorn). He also gets a dollop of yogurt with each meal. They do not need sugar or all the other chemicals that are in fruit yogurt. I couldn't believe it, but he loves plain yogurt! Licks it up first, then eats the rest. He's not overweight, but I give him low-fat. He had a lot of digestive issues (GSDs often do) but now he's healthy and has a shiny coat. Good for you for taking care of your pup!

3:25PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

I feed my Boxer dogs yoghurt three times a day with their meals and usually use a good quality mango and papaya brand but am becoming worried at how much sugar and fat there are in them.
If you want a fat free one there is an alarming percentage of sugar in them and the only low fat, low sugar ones are usually plain.As a general rule is it better to have low fat or low sugar?
I feed Chicken and rice dry food formulated by a local vet with a small amount of their chicken and rice meat plus the yoghurt, and any cooked veg from our meals such as carrot parsnip peas potato in small amounts.
I used to feed cooked brown long rain rice and less dry food for my previous dogs and they loved it but my daughter insists that they need nothing other than the dried food and when her dog comes to stay with us he definitely knows that our dogs get better tasting food than he does, which I find sad, but I stick to her instructions.
We are now being told that sugar is the new tobacco and should be drastically cut out of our
diet but you need to check everything you eat for the low sugar brands.
What is Stevia and is it better than sugar~it's not readily available in supermarkets here in the UK but can be obtained from Amazon.
I would appreciate anyone who is kind enough to reply~thank you!
As a last thought we have had Boxer dogs for 40+ years and the one who lived the longest (14) was fed a mixer biscuit with tinned dogfood or our cooked meat and a good proportion of what ever veg w

10:47AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Poor dog! But he got it worked out, eventually, good for him.

good article

I think it is the right direction! Yes, McDonalds as a company is still not healthy for this planet …

I learned most of these through trial and error . . . oh, so many errors!


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