If you would like to gradually improve your canine companion’s diet but are not quite ready to cook a doggie stew every few days, here are a few easy changes to make.
• Water: One of the easiest things to change is your dog’s water supply. Author Pat Lazarus strongly recommends buying a water filter to attach to your faucet.
• Veggies and Fruits: These should equal one-third of the daily diet. Use raw or cooked veggies: beans, split peas, lentils, carrots, zucchini, and broccoli are good. Add raw, cut-up fruit occasionally. Organic, unsprayed produce is best.
• Garlic: Garlic is used widely for animals with various conditions. It can help build the immune system and is a good flea and worm repellent, but it may cause anemia if given for long periods of time. Adding a crushed clove of garlic to your dog’s food every day is appropriate.
• Dairy: Raw eggs and cottage cheese. Other possible additions are yogurt and cheddar-type cheese. All provide protein and iron.
• Grains: Cooked grains should equal one-third of a dog’s diet. A few appropriate choices are barley, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, cornmeal and, even, crumbled whole wheat bread. These provide carbohydrates.
• Vitamins: Lazarus would add more of vitamins C and E to a general multiple supplement. In fact, many dog specialists recommend additional vitamin C. Vitamin B is also vital for a healthy immune system and can be found in brewer’s yeast, another possible daily additive. However, adding arbitrary supplements of vitamins or minerals is generally not recommended without consulting your veterinarian.
• Oil: Many veterinarians and breeders recommend a tablespoon or two a day of vegetable or canola oil, especially for a dry coat or skin. However, oil may add calories.
• Meat: Lean, organic meats are best. Turkey, liver, mackerel, chicken, and lamb top most vets’ lists. Some recommend raw liver; many recommend raw meat in total. Meat (or some fish) should represent one-third (perhaps a bit more) of the dog’s daily diet.
Homemade Dog Bone Recipe
Adapted from The Healthy Pet Manual: A Guide to the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer by Deborah Straw (Healing Arts Press, 2005).