Imagine eating cheerios (without milk) for every single meal for the entire duration of your life.
Seriously, stop and think about it for a minute.
You probably don’t need a whole minute to decide that would be a terrible void of at least two of your fabulous human senses - taste and smell. I consider myself a foodie but even if I wasn’t crazy about good food the idea of this is pretty disturbing. Unfortunately, dog owners everywhere practice this routine with their dogs: absolutely zero variety.
Even though dogs have around 19% the tastebuds that we do, they make up for it in their sense of smell which is around 98% stronger than ours. Apparently the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to deciphering smells is 40x larger than ours. Wow, and to think that every single meal is the same missed opportunity, the same smell of old processed cheerios, er, I mean dry processed dog kibble. What a disservice we are doing for these amazing creatures we call dogs, or our fur children, or well, children!!!
I know many of my clients supplement with treats and snacks to try to mix up their pet’s diet a bit. Some of my clients prepare special meals for their dogs (and no I don’t bat an eye, because I was once that same pet parent preparing special meals & fresh treats for my own dog when he was alive). There are many ways you can mix up your pet's diet without the worry of weight gain. Dogs can have access to fresh ingredients like the ones listed below, they don’t simply have to have dry kibble for every meal:
I love all the ideas I get from friends and clients when it comes to what to feed our pets. Some recent favorites are:
- Fresh green beans or carrots for crunchy dog snacks
- Ice as a cool crunchy snack
- Omega-3 fish oil tablets drizzled over kibble or just given whole
- A scoop of unflavored greek yogurt in kibble
- Water-diluted low-sodium chicken broth mixed with kibble
- Goats milk to help with allergies in dogs
- Canned salmon/sardines mixed with kibble
There are many natural dog food books on the market. I suggest you find & research what might work for you and ask your veterinarian for recommendations/approval, always.
Below is an easy DIY recipe I saved from the spring 2016 issue of Edible Austin Magazine. These or any treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. For small dogs break up into 3 pieces:
Good Boy! Dog Treats - by Claudia Alarcon
Makes 20-24 treat balls (2 inch)
2 Cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup whole-wheat flour & 1 cup white all-purpose flour)
Choose ONE of the three options below:
½ (half) cup cooked and mashed sweet potato or canned pumpkin
½ (half) cup canned sardines or canned salmon mashed
1 ripe banana, mashed
Seasonings (choose up to two):
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 Tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut (soaked in water for 1 hour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh mint
In large bowl mix together the flour, egg and the other options you chose from above. Roll the mixture into 1- to 2-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Press the balls flat with a fork, if you wish. Bake at 325⁰ for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container. Treats will keep for up to a week. They freeze nicely.
Try a bite yourself. Your dog decided she’s not crazy about bananas? Try the recipe with salmon the next time or pumpkin the time after that. Just be careful they don’t burn/char as charring is very unhealthy.
If you’re not a great cook the good thing about preparing food for your pets is that you don’t have to stress about if they’ll like it or not, they most likely will welcome any change to the daily dry kibble routine! So unless you plan to post this on pinterest there is no need to obsess over the way these turn out, even if they look like ugly globs your dog will treat you like you’re the new Martha Stewart!
...And that folks, is one of the many reasons why I love dogs more than most people - they are pure gratitude wrapped in fur and frequent tail wags!
Now go out & get some fresh food for your dog or make a recipe! Change up the daily humdrum dry kibble routine! They’ll be endlessly grateful that their tastebuds and spidey-smell senses got a welcome change, trust me!