If you are like me, your dogs and cats are much more than just pets: they’re part of the family. The time I spend with my sweet, silly animals is often the highlight of my day, and they are an important part of my life. So it goes without saying that I want my pup and kitties to live long, healthy, happy lives, and I will do whatever I can do make that happen.
One key to animal health is, of course, nutrition. Unfortunately, most commercial pet foods contain a significant amount of byproducts and fillers which can cause health issues for your furry friends. This is also the case for biscuits and treats. Not only can treats contain harmful ingredients, but giving too many of them to pets can cause unhealthy weight gain and related issues. So how can pet owners reward their animals without doing them harm?
The solution is to just keep it simple! Many of the healthy foods that we humans snack on are perfect for pets in their natural form – no extra prep required! For example, my dog’s favorite treat is baby carrots. He also loves snap peas, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, celery and cauliflower (you may want to cook some of the tougher veggies before feeding them to dogs in order to aid in digestion). He now gets more excited when I open my vegetable drawer than when I open his dog food container! Some fruits are also good treats for dogs, including apples, pears, cantaloupe, mango and bananas.
Pumpkin, sweet potato and winter squash are also great treats for dogs and cats, and can actually help with digestion issues. I like to open a can of pumpkin or bake a sweet potato or squash and freeze the flesh into ice cube trays for cool treats on hot summer days. You can also bake pumpkin and sweet potato into quick treats for pups – a Google search for “homemade dog treats” will turn up plenty of easy vegan recipes that use healthy ingredients such as peanut butter, flaxseed, whole wheat flour and oats.
Of course, there are some human foods that are unhealthy or even toxic to pets. These include onion, garlic, grapes, raisins, lemons, limes, rhubarb, wild mushrooms and avocado. If a scrap slips away from you while you’re chopping or cooking, make sure to grab it before your dog does!
What is your favorite natural pet treat?
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.