Pets Like Healthy Snacks, Too – Even Vegetables
Like buying candy for kids, we often think snacks that have been specially packaged for pets are the best treats in the world. Why would they want anything other than a tasty treat? But, a lot of those packaged pet snacks and treats are the equivalent of candy. They are not a big deal, as long as you don’t do too much of it, since they are mostly devoid of nutritional value.
And just as we encourage kids to eat their veggies rather than another candy, we can also encourage a love for veggies in our pets. These low calorie, low fat, vitamin and mineral-packed “treats” are a great alternative to the packaged dog biscuits and kitty chews.
Which Fruits and Vegetables Are Best, and Which Are Not Safe for Pets?
There are some plant foods that are toxic to pets, so you will want to be familiar with what to avoid and even prevent access to. If you are unsure, check with your veterinarian to make sure that your planned treats are not going to be harmful to your pet. Also keep in mind that while dogs are omnivorous, and therefore more open to trying different kinds of foods. Cats, on the other hand, are carnivorous. They are not just picky about what they eat; they are constitutionally incapable of digesting some types of foods.
Here is a brief list of healthy treats that have been found to go over well with a lot of pets, followed by a list of foods you will need to avoid.
- Apples - without seeds or core (apple seeds contain chemical compounds that are poisonous to animals)
- Watermelon - without seeds
- Frozen bananas
- Green beans
- Carrots - raw or cooked
- Sweet potato – cooked, cubed or mashed without butter or seasoning; regular potatoes are also good, but in limited amounts since they are high in sugar and can increase weight
- Squash, zucchini
- Popcorn - unsalted and unbuttered
- Catnip or cat grass
- Grapes and raisins - contain chemical compounds that are toxic to dogs
- Garlic and onions – both have chemical properties that can be toxic, and even life threatening to dogs and cats
- Mushrooms – particularly wild mushrooms
- Fruits with pits, such as peaches, cherries, and plums – in some cases the pit can be toxic, or can simply present a choking hazard
- Nuts – particularly macadamia nuts, which are toxic to pets
What is the Best Way To Feed These Types of Treats?
The foods should be baked or steamed, cut up into smallish pieces, and only given in small amounts at a time. This will prevent both choking and an overload of carbohydrate- and calorie-rich foods. You can give the vegetables and fruits by themselves, or you might mash or puree them and mix them up with the prepared food and given at meal times.
Replacing your pet’s dense, high fat packaged treats with healthy treats like fruits and vegetables will be one of the most beneficial things you do for your pet. Over the long term, your pet’s health and immune system will be stronger, aging will not be as severe, its weight will stay steadier, and if weight is already an issue, you may even see your pet’s weight become more manageable -- if you stick to it and include moderate exercise.
With any change in diet, it is important to observe your pet for issues that can arise in response to the change. If your pet begins to show digestive or behavioral changes, stop feeding the new foodstuff and consult with a veterinarian if the problem does not go away in the absence of the added food.
Image source: Tobyotter / via Flickr