Whether it’s human or dog food, whole-natural ingredients are the buzz in healthy nutrition. While many veterinarians would rather see dogs eat food made specifically for them, there are on-trend human foods that are great as a treat or as an addition to your pet’s food.
Dogster asked clinical pet nutritionist and expert with Bow Wow Labs Johnna Devereaux and Minnesota shelter veterinarian Dr. Julie Steller about seven common trending food items that we can feed our pups.
Johnna says peanuts are full of antioxidants like manganese and vitamins E and B. They also contain Omega-6 fatty acids, which may help lower cholesterol levels. There’s no question dogs go crazy for peanut butter, but Dr. Steller says to be careful. “Don’t use a brand with xylitol in it. Check the ingredients.”
How to feed: Peanut butter is high in calories, so use it in moderation. Our pet nutrition expert says to make peanut butter last longer, “Puree it with a frozen banana, fill a favorite toy and freeze it. Moderation is key, so feed it sparingly.”
#trending: All-natural peanut butters are all the rage. These typically have just peanuts or peanuts and salt (feed the one without the salt) and need to be refrigerated.
Dog products spreading the peanut butter:
- Polkadog Wonder Nuggets
- Bocce’s Bakery Peanut Butter & Banana Biscuits
- Zuke’s Mini Naturals Peanut Butter and Oats Recipe
- Old Mother Hubbard Mini Soft and Tasty Peanut Butter and Bacon Flavored Biscuits
Dr. Steller says vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, and green beans and carrots are a great snack for dogs who need to lose weight. Johnna says to be careful, though, as some vegetables are extremely high in starch and will break down quickly into glucose. That ends up being sugar! Also, look at the best way to serve the veggies based on time, price and how your dog prefers them (or his stomach prefers them #flatulance): canned, steamed, roasted, raw, etc.
How to feed: For pet lovers pressed for time, canned carrots and green beans can be the way to go. Always rinse the veggies several times to make sure the sodium has been removed. For pet parents, Dr. Steller thinks canned vegetables can be an inexpensive way to get your dog reduced-calorie food when they are overweight. (We all know price can matter in feeding our pets.)
#trending: Vegetables are always on trend for anyone who cares about healthy eating. Today, plant-based diets, root vegetables and cauliflower are on trend for humans. We’ve got cauliflower pizza crust, so will it be cauliflower dog bones next?
Dog foods chopping up those veggies:
- Zuke’s Z-bones with carrot
- Nulo Freestyle Chicken, Carrots and Peas Recipe
- Purina Beyond Grain Free Chicken, Carrot and Pea Wet Dog Food
And speaking of root vegetables being on trend, let’s talk about the ever-popular sweet potato. Our canine health nutritionist says sweet potatoes are high in fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C and a great source of magnesium. (On the other hand, white potatoes are high in starch and can cause inflammation in a canine’s body.)
How to feed: Serve sweet potatoes raw to provide the most nutrients possible. Johnna recommends pureeing the potato to break down the cell walls for best nutrient assimilation, and to ensure there is no potential for intestinal blockage. Or you can boil, roast or bake sweet potatoes for a short amount of time to help retain most of the nutrients. (Find time/temp online.)
#trending: People are loving the sweet potato today more than ever because it’s considered a healthy carb (lots of vitamins and minerals) with a low glycemic index score. “Sweet potatoes are great for humans, so that thought has carried over to the dog world,” Dr. Steller says. “Just know that any kind of potato is extra calories for your canine.”
Dog foods sweet on this potato:
- Wag More Bark Less Meatballs
- Jinx Salmon Brown Rice and Sweet Potato
- Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon Sweet Potato Recipe
Plain Complex Grains
As a canine nutritionist, Johnna wants to stress that dogs have little-to-no nutritional need for carbohydrates. If you’re going to feed them, complex grains are the best, as they have a moderate glycemic load. (Check with your vet before making a diet change.)
How to feed: Dr. Steller believes a high-quality commercial dog food that has the best complex grains, like buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice or barley, is ideal.
#trending: Complex carbohydrates are gaining popularity in the human nutrition space. (For example, quinoa went from unknown to superstar thanks to being gluten-free, nutritionally dense and a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.) With the word out on how great complex carbs can be, pet parents are looking to add more good nutrition to their dogs’ diet through the use of these superfoods.
Dog products choosing complex carbohydrates:
- Earth Animal’s No-Hide Chews
- Wellness Complete Health Dog Food
- Tim’s Dog Food
- Canidae All Life Stages Dog Food
Low-Sodium Bone Broth
Simmer bones and connective tissues for hours in water, and you’ve got bone broth (more or less). As a shelter veterinarian, Dr. Steller often uses broth to help entice her sick patients to eat, as well as get more hydration into their bodies. Bone broths are better than plain broth, as they are chock full of collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, gelatin and magnesium.
How to feed: Both experts agree that bone broth is an easy way to get dogs to eat. “Make sure that any broth you choose is low in sodium and does not contain onion in the ingredients,” Johnna says. Bone broth can be fed on its own, on top of kibble or frozen into ice cubes for a tasty cool treat.
#trending: Paleo diet lovers and now other health conscious humans have drunk in the bone broth, many making it from scratch themselves. Today’s pet lovers have embraced the bone broth, too, although thankfully some pet food companies have cooked it up so we don’t have to.
Lapping up the bone broth:
- Brutus Broth, Nugget’s Bone Broth
- Green Juju Bison Broth
- Merrick Chicken Bone Broth Grain-Free Dog Food Topper
Both of our experts say eggs are rich in healthy fats and nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, choline, iron and folate. The shell of the egg is also rich in calcium, with the membrane being a great source of glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen and hyaluronic acid.
How to feed: Johnna says you can feed eggs raw or cooked and, if you get your eggs from a local farm, you can feed the shell with the membrane for extra benefits, “but never feed the shell from an egg purchased at a store. The shell may have been cleaned with a chemical solution.” Dr. Steller prefers that dogs just eat cooked eggs.
#trending: Thanks to social media platforms like TikTok, eggs are on trend again. The affordable, protein-packed egg is easy to share with our pets and is now considered a health food. Just make sure to not cook the egg in fats, oils or with spices, or feed your dog too much of them — keep portions small.
Foods cracked up on eggs:
- Purina Beyond Dry Dog Food (selected flavors)
- Weruva Bed & Breakfast (chicken, egg, pumpkin & ham in gravy)
- Jinx Chicken, Sweet Potato & Egg
Cooked Lean Meat
Mindful nutrition lovers are always all about the lean meats due to them being a good source of protein with less fat and fewer calories than meats that aren’t lean. (Check the USDA for recommendations on lean meats at usda.gov.) Johnna believes adding lean protein to a dog’s meal to entice them to eat or take a pill is a great choice — just be sure not to overdo it.
How to feed: First, always cook it well so your dog doesn’t get a bacterial infection or foodborne illness. Feed it as a treat or as a topper to your dog’s food. (Raw food diets are a whole other article.) With a strong humananimal bond thanks to the pandemic, who doesn’t want to give their dog a small piece of their turkey sandwich? You may want to hesitate on that. Our pet nutritionist says to beware of nitrates lurking in many of the deli meats.
#trending: Humans are loving proteins that support the immune system and are great for weight loss. Popular lean meats today are grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, turkey, bison, white-fleshed fish and lean meats like rabbit and pheasant.
Meet these lean-meat pet food:
- Bow Wow Labs Waggy Wafers Organic Chicken//KEEP IN
- Evanger’s Whole Chicken Thighs
- Acana Wholesome Grains Sea to Stream, Fish & Grains
- Wellness Core Reduced Fat Dog Food
Experts at the University of California Davis Veterinary Hospital’s Nutrition Support Service say fruits and vegetables are good options for many dogs since they are low in protein, fat, sodium and phosphorus. Just make sure you never feed them chocolate, macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, grapes and raisins.