Whole Food Additions to Kibble
For dogs and their owners, a lot revolves around food. What to feed a dog and how much is a big topic for vets, pet enthusiasts, and dog owners alike. Certain diets have been given more thought lately as pet health, like human health has moved towards a focus on overall nutrition. Whole food diets have come to the table as a viable option to increase the nutrition and health of your pet.
Benefits of Adding to Kibble
While it may be unrealistic for many dog owners to create homemade dog food from fresh ingredients on a regular basis, adding whole foods to supplement kibble is an option. Research suggests that the incorporation of whole foods into a dog’s diet can lead to improving their health.
In the article “The Case for Whole Foods,” the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal cited a recent study that found “the consumption of any type of vegetable at least three times per week was associated with a 70% to 90% risk reduction in the development of transitional cell carcinoma in Scottish terriers.” The journal acknowledged this research citing that “other breeds are also likely to benefit from whole food supplementation of processed diets.”
The journal reported another study that compared the cognitive ability of older dogs based on their diets. “The control group was fed a processed senior diet. The test group’s food was enriched with vitamins E and C, mitochondrial co-factors (L-carnitine and DL-alpha-lipoic acid), and a mixture of fruits and vegetables. The dogs receiving the enriched diet performed significantly better than controls.”
Whole food diets may also be beneficial to dogs with certain conditions. Food allergies are one reason pet owners turn to whole foods. Eliminating some kibble and adding fresh ingredients allows owners to control more of what goes into their dog’s tummies. Certain diseases like Cushing’s, an endocrine disorder that affects the dog’s ability to regulate their immune system, respond to stress, and even digest food, may be affected by a change in your pup’s diet. When combined with a natural supplement to help control symptoms, some owners have seen an increase in their dog’s energy when moving to a whole food diet.
Adding Whole Foods to a Dog’s Diet
What foods are considered “whole” when it comes to feeding Fido? Unprocessed, fresh foods that come from a variety of sources constitute a “whole” diet. While not all fresh foods are good for pets to consume, there are plenty that will help your pooch eat well. Here are the top choices many whole food pet owners and pet nutritionists have championed.
Packed with protein, good fats, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are a strong nutritional choice. Remove the shell to avoid too much calcium then serve it up scrambled, or hard-boiled. Though there is some debate as to whether uncooked eggs negatively affect a dog due to bacteria, many pet owners choose to feed their dogs using a raw diet. Eggs are calorie dense though, so make sure you’re not feeding them daily to a small dog breeds.
2. Lean Meat
As with eggs, the raw versus cooked debate rages, but adding animal protein to a doggy diet adds nutrients. Whichever method you choose, consider the bones. Raw bones pose less of a hazard than soft, cooked ones when it comes to choking or splintering.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Many fruits and veggies are nutritionally beneficial for dogs. Consider crunchy varieties like apples, watermelon, cucumber, carrots, even leafy greens. Sweet potatoes are a better starch choice. Even peas can be a treat! Cruciferous veggies can be used, but in small quantities—you don’t want to give your pooch too much gas. Remove all pits and seeds before feeding your pet. You should also avoid grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney problems. Some research also suggests that avocados, garlic, and onions are bad news. (Sorry, Fido, no guac for you.)
Probiotics for the win! Yogurt is a great source of these gut-enhancing microbes. Another added benefit is the calcium content. PetMD.com praises yogurt as an excellent nutrient source for dogs. “Adding a small spoonful of yogurt to your dog’s regular kibble at mealtime can provide digestive benefits and even help your dog stay full longer.” They also warn pet owners to check yogurt for the additive xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic for dogs. Find a plain yogurt to avoid added sugar.
Believe it or not, these little fish can add a lot of good things to your pet’s diet. Sardines contain a mighty amount of omega 3 acids and other nutrients that can prevent cancer and heal inflammation. Experts suggest buying sardines that have no added sodium, are wild-caught, and are packed in water. Some dog parents even use the excess water from the tin as gravy for kibble! Be careful of portion and frequency depending on the size of your pet.
How to Balance Whole Food and Kibble
When choosing to add whole food to a dog’s diet, remember that balance is key. Since you are adding calories with the addition of whole foods, reduce the amount of kibble you serve. Combining different types of whole foods is important too. Portion size depends heavily on the size of your dog, something you can and should discuss with a vet as you move towards adding whole foods to a kibble-based diet. Once you make the switch, monitor your dog carefully for a few weeks, looking for irregularity in normal energy levels, stool, and overall behavior.
Why Diet Matters
We at CushAway believe in caring for your dog’s overall health to give them the best life. We believe a dog with Cushing’s disease can benefit from eating a diet that contains whole foods. Part of our nutraceutical approach to managing the symptoms of Cushing’s is gut health through probiotics, which increase the efficacy of the supplement. When dogs consume a diet rich in whole foods, the benefits of overall gut health and nutrition can play a role in increasing the vitality of your dog. We see this through improved energy levels and a shinier coat.