Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Human Foods Dogs Can Eat - Holiday Edition

It doesn't have to be the holidays for us to want to treat our dogs. We love to indulge ourselves-and them-and are careful to avoid poisoning pets with high-risk foods like chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocados, or raisons/grapes. Artificial sweeteners keep owners lean, but any goodies sweetened with Xylitol could cause canine liver failure.

So when the aroma of baking and roasting turns on the doggy drool, what human foods are safe for dogs to snack on? Actually, dogs have been eating the same foods people do for centuries and not only live to tell about it, they thrive. And holistic vets often recommend some of these foods for a more natural way to treat your doggy best friend.

1. Lean Meat: Chicken is a favorite but dogs will relish nearly any type of meat. A hunk of firm beef also can scrub teeth for dental health then your dog must chew. Turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sleep aid that works to calm excited pooches during holiday visits.

2. Organ meats: Don't toss out the giblets when you roast your holiday bird. Tongue, heart, liver and gizzards are power-packed with vitamins and minerals that help support the dog's own organs-so even if you don't care for liver, your dog will thank you for this healthy treat.

3. Green veggies, fresh or cooked: Dogs are omnivores and often relish vegetable treats. Some favorites include broccoli, asparagus, spinach and green beans. Does your doggy graze on grass? Offer him parsley-it will also freshen his breath.

4. Beets: Holistic veterinarians say raw beets pack a powerful punch for cleansing the liver. Dogs may relish small amounts of cooked beets as a treat.

5. Stew: Chicken soup cooked with spinach, green beans, mushrooms and beets makes a great treat and top dressing for regular food. A bit of garlic for flavor is fine, too, as it contains vitamin B-just don't overdo as too much of onion or garlic can cause anemia in some dogs.

6. Sweet potatoes: Dogs have a sweet tooth and relish a dollop of sweet potatoes. The high fiber also proves soothing for upset tummies or diarrhea. Hold the marshmallow-the dog may like the sugary topping but marshmallow isn't particularly healthy for him.

7. Canned pumpkin: Dogs often love the taste of pumpkin. It also works great as a natural remedy for either diarrhea or constipation. Offer the nonflavored canned pumpkin as the pie filling has added sugar and spices that may not appeal to your dog.

8. Yogurt: While many dogs have problems digesting milk and develop diarrhea, small amounts as a treat usually work fine. A better milk-based treat is plain unflavored yogurt. Yogurt also helps maintain the beneficial bacteria in the stomach that keeps digestion healthy.

9. Cranberry: This is an acquired taste for people and dogs. Many dogs enjoy berries, oranges, apples and bananas. But cranberry promotes urinary tract health, although your pooch would need to drink a lot of the juice to see a benefit.

10. Ginger: Gingerbread and ginger snap cookies make great treats for dogs, especially if they suffer from car sickness during travel to Grandma's house. Ginger is a natural remedy that counters nausea. You'll want to limit the sugar and carbs, though, to prevent that "table muscle" from becoming too pudgy.

Every dog is unique and has different tastes-and nutritional needs. Some may fight obesity or have food allergies or require a therapeutic diet to counter a health condition, so be sure to clear any table treats with your veterinarian. Remember you wouldn't allow your human kid to munch exclusively on rich desserts or gravy, so balance your table-love with healthy moderation.

Treats typically shouldn't make up more than about 10 percent of the pet's total diet. So if you plan to offer table food, first reduce his regular ration. Tiny amounts offered very gradually work best to avoid upset tummies. Besides, your dog enjoys the attention almost as much as the treat!

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