At the Barkery, we believe in feeding your pet a fresh, carefully balanced diet. The wonderful thing about homemade diets is being able to pick your own ingredients. You pick the quality of meat and veggies because you select the food yourself.
Research shows that offering any amount of fresh food to your dog is beneficial. Maybe you can manage two or four fresh food meals out of 14 in a week. However you choose to do it, the important thing is to take small steps toward providing the best diet you can afford for your canine companion.
Raw food enthusiast Dr. Karen Becker provides us with this helpful list of 10 fresh foods you can add to your dog’s diet starting today:
- Pumpkin: Fresh pumpkin, either steamed or boiled (or canned 100 percent pumpkin) is relatively low in calories and high in soluble fiber, which is beneficial for dogs with gastrointestinal upset. Pumpkin helps regulate bowel function, which relieves diarrhea and constipation.
Raw pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals, vitamin K and phytosterols. They contain L-tryptophan and are a good source of zinc, vitamin E and B vitamins. They may help prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones, reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, and support prostate health. We can’t think of a single reason not to feed pumpkin.
- Blueberries: Blueberries are available all year and make a great training treat for dogs. These berries are loaded with phytochemicals and antioxidants, and are also a good source of fiber, manganese and vitamins C and E. A good rule of thumb is two to four blueberries as treats for every 10 pounds of dog food a day. Replace processed treats with fresh or frozen blueberries to increase antioxidants in your pet’s diet.
- Kale: Kale is a dark green cruciferous veggie loaded with vitamins K, A, C, iron, and antioxidants. Kale is a great way to detox the liver and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Add 1-3 tablespoons of minced or chopped kale to your dog’s food daily, depending on body weight, as a great source of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants.
- Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains beneficial probiotics that support the immune system. Although pasteurized cow’s milk can irritate your dog’s GI tract, fermented milk is different. One of the best and least expensive ways to add healthy bacteria to your pet’s diet is to convert raw milk to kefir yourself.
All you need is one-half packet of kefir starter granules in a quart of raw milk (preferably organic), which you leave at room temperature overnight. Then add 1-3 teaspoons of this super probiotic to your dog’s food 1-2 times daily for overall improved GI defense.
- Mushrooms: Some mushrooms are poisonous, but beneficial varieties include shiitake, reishi, maitake, lion’s mane, king trumpet, turkey tail and himematsutake mushrooms. All mushrooms that are safe for people are safe for pets.
This food can help regulate bowel function and contain anti-cancer properties and immune system enhancers. You can either lightly cook the mushrooms in a small amount of olive or coconut oil before adding them to your dog’s meal.
- Broccoli: Broccoli supports detoxification processes in your dog’s body; contains healthy fiber to aid digestion; is rich in beneficial nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and vitamin C; has anti-inflammatory properties; supports eye health; helps repair skin damage; and supports heart health. Your dog may prefer broccoli steamed, although many eat it fresh with no problem.
- Sardines: Fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to your dog’s well-being. Dr. Becker suggests using sardines packed in water if you are supplementing these into your pet’s diet.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants, and high in vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk rom heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
- Fermented vegetables: Fermented foods are potent detoxifiers and contain very high levels of probiotics and vitamins. Beneficial gut bacteria provided by probiotics break down and eliminate toxins from the body. Adding 1-3 teaspoons of fermented veggies to your pet’s diet each day is a great way to offer food-based probiotics and natural nutrients.
- Chia: Chia seed is a source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don’t need to be ground. They also provide fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. Try sprinkling some chia seeds on your dog’s meals, or mix with some coconut oil for a nutrient-dense bedtime snack.
Always remember to slowly introduce new foods to your pet to prevent GI upset. It’s a good idea to check first with your veterinarian if your dog has any digestive issues or other health concerns.