Natural Dog Food and Treats

Dog on Leash

You are concerned about natural foods for your family. Have you considered how to give your dog more natural food choices?

The Environmental Working Group published a study a few years ago on the chemical body burden on pets. Dogs and cats get the exposures we do and more. For example, dogs have on average 2.4 times higher levels than humans of PFCs (teflon chemicals, perflourochemicals).

Just as children ingest pollutants in tap water, play on lawns with pesticide residues, or breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants, so do their pets. But with their compressed lifespans, developing and aging seven or more times faster than children, pets also develop health problems from exposures much more rapidly. “Polluted Pets,” Environmental Working Group, April 2008.

Part of the problem is, dogs lick and chew so much. They walk through the grass that has been treated with pesticides then lick their paws. They chew on plastic toys that have BPA, phthalates, vinyl, and other chemical ingredients banned from human toys, and they ingest the chemicals. This doesn’t even get into the ingredients of actual dog foods. Dogs aren’t particularly discriminating when it comes to what is food and what is not.

If you want to begin to lower your pet’s exposure to chemicals and green your dog’s life in general, you can choose toys of natural materials, make sure chew toys are digestible, choose shampoo with natural ingredients, don’t treat your lawn, and don’t treat your carpet or furniture with stainproofing chemicals.

Then, look at the actual food.

Natural Dog Food

You have a lot of choices with dog food. Many families choose to make their own homemade dog food, but be sure you understand what dogs shouldn’t eat (grapes, chocolate, cooked bones, fatty foots, yeast dough, onions) and how much protein they need (at least 25%).

Even with commercial foods, you can find foods that are good for your dog. If you avoid processed foods and mystery ingredients for your human family, you can do the same for your dog. Choose dog food with real food ingredients. Don’t choose dog food with fillers as the top ingredients.

Though there are vegetarian foods for dogs, most animal professionals recommend that dogs not be put on a vegetarian diet unless they have special needs. Dogs are carnivores. Make sure they get enough protein.

Our dog eats commercial dog food. We chose her food carefully with help and opinions from her veterinarian and other dog geniuses. She also eats some foods we prepare, but we don’t give her our food unless we know it is OK for dogs. Plus, she has preferences: apples are good, but celery is bad. She loves lettuce and spinach but won’t eat bean sprouts. And, of course, she eats meat.

One of our dog’s favorite treats is made from our cast offs.

Heart Treats for Dogs

Heart treats for dogs

As we cook turkeys and chickens, we save the giblets in a bag in the freezer. My husband is an omnivore, but the rest of us aren’t that keen on eating all of the little bits. My dog most certainly is keen on eating every little bit.

4 cups chicken and turkey hearts

In a saucepain, add hearts and enough water to just cover. Boil for 10 minutes. (You could also leave them raw.) Put the cooked hearts and the water into the blender and blend until fine. Pour the mixture onto a cookie tray with high sides, spread out evenly, and let cool. This gels up. Cut into cubes and refreeze.

We keep these treats in the freezer door and thaw out a few at a time. They must smell great for a dog. As they sat on our counter today thawing, as I tried to write, my dog sat in front of me and cried, telling me over and over that I needed to get up and get the treats for her NOW. These are definitely her favorite treat.

Because we chose the chickens and turkeys for ourselves, we know they are local and well treated. We know our dog isn’t getting any fillers or added chemical exposure from these treats.

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