Celebrities have a public presence that can be perceived in a positive or negative light depending on what day-to-day behavior in which they partake while in the glare of the camera lens or video recorder.
I love seeing celebrities that choose to take their dogs out and about in a responsible manner. Amanda Seyfried is one of those celebs that always seems to do the right thing when it comes to manner in which she and her Australian Shepherd Finn are seen in the press. The pair are often seen hiking in Los Angeles and walking around New York City in a manner that shows Finn’s exceptional degree of training while being kept under control with a leash fixed to a cervical (neck) collar.
Seyfried was recently photographed feeding Finn a snack of broccoli, which many pet owners may find surprising. After all, why would we feed our canine companions snacks of vegetables when we could offer highly-processed, commercially-available dog treats? In actuality, it’s generally healthier for dogs to eat snacks of fresh meat, vegetables, fruits and other foods in a format like nature creates as compared to conventional biscuit-type or jerky-style meat treats.
Many human foods can be offered to our canine companions and safely provide nutrition that is free from feed-grade ingredients potentially harboring toxins like mold-produced mycotoxins. Whole foods can provide natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals commonly found in synthetic form in commercially-available pet foods and treats that often aren’t absorbed as efficient as their natural counterparts. Fruit and vegetables are my go-to recommendations for dog owners to provide their canine companions.
The insoluble fiber found in fruit and vegetables creates a feeling of fullness that can permit reduction of the volume of dry or canned food being fed at each meal. Adding fruits and vegetables to a pet’s diet can promote weight loss and maintenance without creating the sense of deprivation.
Fresh or frozen fruits can serve as a cooling and healthy canine snack. Apple, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, pear, raspberry, strawberry and watermelon are my top choices. Sweet fruits tend to be more appealing to pets than those that are bland or bitter and ripening typically enhances fruit’s sweetness.
Outer skins of banana, melon and others should be removed to reveal the tasty inner contents. As needed, fruit can also be mashed or pureed and added to your dog’s current food.
Not all fruits are appropriate pet snacks. Avoid grapes, raisins, currants and their juices, which have an unknown toxic effect to some dogs’ kidneys. Dried fruits are calorically dense and can contain preservatives (sulfur dioxide, etc), so my general recommendation is to stick to fresh or frozen options.
So many vegetable options are available to provide beneficial nutrients often deficient in commercially-available pet foods and treats.
Veggies that grow above ground (like cauliflower, cucumber, mushroom, spinach, tomato) tend to be high in moisture and low in caloric density. Vegetables that grow below ground (like white and sweet potato, turnip, carrots) typically contain less moisture and have a higher caloric density. Both options can benefit your dog’s digestive health and overall wellness, but I suggest providing more above-ground options and less below-ground growers as snacks.
If your pooch resists eating raw vegetables, lightly steam and mash them for easy mixing into any existing diet. Cooked vegetables are easier to digest and less likely to cause gas. Potatoes should be cooked and have their eyes and any green or dark skins removed before feeding. Baby foods can also serve as tasty vegetable options for your pooch provided they lack onion or garlic powder, starch and other additives.
When offering fruits and vegetables to your pooch, start with small quantities, like a few berries, a one-inch piece of melon or a tablespoon of mash or puree. Be observant of any changes in bowel movements and urination (like larger volume, altered color or smell, pattern variations), which typically indicates your pet’s digestive acceptance of fruits and vegetables. If your pet tolerates the sample portion, then slowly and consistently increase the volume under the guidance of your veterinarian.
Protect your dog and human family members from food borne illness by following the Food and Drug Administration’s guide to including purchasing, storing and preparing produce. Thoroughly washing fruit and vegetables with soap and water can help remove environmental debris and infectious organisms.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also provides a great resource of flowers and plants (including fruit and vegetables) that are toxic for dogs. Before feeding your pooch a new fruit or vegetable snack, confirm the treat’s safety.
The broccoli Seyfried feeds Finn is a safe snack, provided it’s fed in appropriate volumes (one to a few crowns depending on the dog’s size). If a dog eats a large amount of broccoli, gas and other digestive upset (like vomit, diarrhea and inappetence) can occur.
Do you feed any vegetables or fruits to your pet? If so, feel free to share your experiences doing so in the comments section.
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Copyright of this article (2016) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.