There are mixed views on making your own dog food and not using packaged dog foods. On one hand, feeding them meat and plant matter that you have picked out and prepared means that their meals are fresher and you know exactly what they are eating. Your dog will also appreciate the variety of tastes. On the other hand, you may be inadvertently teaching them that eating ‘human’ food is okay, and this could lead to more begging for scraps and stealing from unattended plates on the coffee table. It may also make them less appreciative of packaged dog foods when you don’t have time to prepare their meals themselves.
A recent trend is dog owners using Biologically Available Raw Food, or ‘BARF’. The idea is that certain raw food is closer to what dogs ate before being domesticated, and therefore healthier. Current research shows no substantial evidence that raw food is any healthier than cooked food, and raw food leaves your dog more susceptible to bacteria and parasites (It is interesting to note that domesticated dogs live much longer than wild dogs). Feeding your dog raw food requires attention to detail. You have to supplement raw meats with other sources of essential nutrients, such as vegetables. If done incorrectly, your dog can develop nutrient deficiencies.
Perhaps the most pressing disadvantage to making your own dog food, raw or not, is that you may not be giving your pup all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that they need to grow and survive. You must know what you are doing if you want to make their meals yourself. Consult a veterinarian before you decide to do this.
You can always supplement your dog’s diet with fruit and vegetable snacks as long as you pay attention to what is okay for them to eat. Here’s a comprehensive list of which fruits and vegetables are okay as snacks for your puppy, and which are not:
Dog friendly Fruits and Vegetables:
Apples – A great source for vitamins A and C. Apples have little protein and fat. Be sure to slice them and remove the seeds and core first.
Watermelon – A great source of water and vitamins. Remove the rind and seeds first.
Mango – Not only are mangos packed with potassium and carotenoids, they also contain vitamins A, B6, C, and E. Remove the pit to prevent your dog from choking.
Strawberries – Strawberries can actually help whiten your dog’s teeth. They have plenty of Vitamin C and fiber as well. However, they are high in sugar, so only use them as a treat.
Blueberries – Blueberries are a great alternative to store bought treats. They are high in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage.
Raspberries – These are anti-inflammatory and great for older dogs. They don’t contain too much sugar or calories, and contain plenty of fiber, manganese, and vitamin C and other antioxidants. They do contain trace amounts of a toxin, so don’t give your dog more than a cup on any given day.
Peaches – Peaches are a good treat. The pits contain cyanide, so cut them up and remove the pit. The flesh has vitamin A and a lot of fiber. Don’t feed your dog canned peaches, as they usually have lots of added sugar.
Bananas – These are a good treat. They are high in sugar, so use them sparingly. They also have a good amount of potassium, fiber, copper, and vitamins.
Oranges – Be sure to peel them first. The peel is hard to digest. Small dogs should only have a few slices of orange at a time.
Pears – These are high in copper, vitamins, and fiber. They may even prevent strokes. Cut them up and remove the seeds.
Pineapples – Another sweet treat. Pineapples also have plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and also enzymes that help your dog digest protein.
Cucumbers – These are a great lean treat for overweight dogs. They contain almost no carbohydrates or fat, and are potentially an energy booster. They have plenty of vitamins, as well as potassium, magnesium, and biotin.
Carrots – A great low calorie snack high in Vitamin A. They are good for your puppy’s teeth as well.
Broccoli – Broccoli is fine as an occasional treat, but too much can upset your dog’s stomach.
Celery – Celery is a great snack. It contains Vitamins A, B, and C, is healthy for your dog’s heart, and can even freshen dog breath. Celery has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes – Raw potatoes can be hard on your dog’s stomach, but plain, cooked potatoes are fine. Potatoes contain lots of iron, and sweet potatoes contain lots of nutrients. Don’t add any seasonings or oils.
Fruits and vegetables you shouldn’t feed your dog:
Grapes – Grapes are toxic to dogs. They can lead to acute kidney failure. Do not feed them to your dog.
Tomatoes – The green stems of tomatoes contain a toxin called Solanine. While the fruit itself isn’t toxic to humans, it is best to avoid tomatoes altogether just in case.
Cherries – Cherry seeds contain lots of cyanide. Do not risk feeding your dog cherries, even pitted ones. If your dog’s pupils are dilated, their gums are red, and/or they have difficulty breathing after ingesting cherries, this may be a sign of cyanide poisoning.
Avocado – Many parts of the fruit contain a stomach upsetting chemical called Persin. Avocados are good for you, but not for your dog.
Onions, Leeks, and Chives – These are healthy for you but seriously poisonous to dogs and many other common pets. They can damage your dog’s red blood cells and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
Asparagus – Asparagus isn’t harmful, but when it’s raw, it’s too tough to eat, and when it’s cooked, it no longer has any nutritional value for your dog. It’s best to feed them something else.