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Healthy Foods for Dogs

dog treats

There is so much information (and misinformation!) online regarding dog food. Like cats, dogs require a complete and balanced diet. The diet must have adequate amounts of nutrients and vitamins and the amounts must not be deficient or in excess of the standards published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC).

Generally speaking, dogs require less protein and have a higher carbohydrate requirement compared to cats. This is because dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores. Omnivores eat plants and meat while carnivores do better with a meat-based diet. A dog fed a meat-only diet will not be eating a complete and balanced diet! Dogs have nutritional requirements that they receive from eating plants.

How do we know dogs are omnivores? By studying their anatomy! Dogs have a longer GI tract to allow for digestion of plant materials and to allow for absorption of nutrients from those plant materials. Some of their teeth are shaped for chewing plants and their body chemistry has the ability to digest and utilize the nutrients from plant materials.

Did you know you can supplement your dog’s food with veggies? Some dogs really like the commonly added vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and canned pumpkin. Other dogs (like children!) aren’t so crazy about those veggies but may try others. These higher-fiber vegetables are great for helping dogs to lose weight as they help a dog feel full quicker. We have developed an infographic with other great treat ideas for dogs on our Pinterest page!

baby carrots

Never feed onion (raw, cooked, or onion seasoning, or anything from the onion family like garlic), raisins or grapes as they can cause serious health problems.

Healthy treats are easy to prepare! You can freeze a few kibbles of your dog’s food, just make sure to subtract this from the pre-determined amount of food per day your dog receives. You can also use vegetables for treats (fresh or frozen) and many pet food companies, like Hill’s Science Diet, make low calorie treats as well.

You can schedule an appointment with your Care First Animal Hospital veterinarian if you have questions about your dog’s diet!

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