Choosing a nourishing food among the commercial pet foods available for your dog can be a daunting task. Should you buy kibble or canned, freeze-dried or raw?
First consult with your veterinarian, who should advise you that healthy dogs require protein and good vegetables. Read the pet food labels to find out what ingredients are listed. Look for a high-quality pet food with no added dyes, coloring, sugars, sweeteners or artificial preservatives. Pay particular attention to the order in which the ingredients are listed. The protein source, which can be chicken, beef, salmon, turkey or lamb, should be first. Avoid foods with meat by-products. Ideally, buy grain-free, organic products without hormones or antibiotics. Some veterinarians recommend grain-free because corn or soy can cause allergies in pets.
Take extra precautions also when purchasing dog treats, as the recurring problems of pet food recalls can send any pet owner into a panic. Bacterial and harmful organisms like salmonella and listeria could threaten your dog’s health and cause serious harm.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates dog and cat food safety, the agency continues to investigate illnesses, predominantly in dogs fed jerky pet treats. Some treats contain contaminated ingredients and products from China, according to the FDA.
In fact, The Dog Food Advisor, a public service website designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food, has reported 129 dog food and treat recalls in North America since 2009.
Another option: if you want to avoid commercial products, make your pet’s food yourself. Excellent homemade dog food recipes use ingredients you might already have in your kitchen. When you cook for your dog, you know exactly how fresh the meals and treats are because you made them from simple, nutritious ingredients.
One of my favorite recipes is Parsley and Salmon Treats, which are wheat- and meat-free. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, and parsley is a good source of vitamin K, according to The Healthy Dog Cookbook, from which the recipe is adapted. Plus, parsley can keep your dog’s breath fresh!
Parsley and Salmon Treats:
6 oz. canned salmon, rinsed and drained
2 cups rice flour
½ cup fresh parsley
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until the dough is firm.
3. Roll dough to ¼ inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
(I love the dog, paw print and dog bone cookie cutters available for purchase online.)
4. Bake treats for 25 minutes.
The treats will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator. The Healthy Dog Cookbook also has a variety of dinner recipes for your pet.
Whatever choice you select, from high-quality pet foods to homemade foods, your dog deserves a nutritious diet to promote longevity and good health. We all want our dogs to live a robust, happy life. When you select nutritious food you help your dog stay active and healthy!