We all love our dogs. Perhaps even too much (if such a thing is possible). Why oh why can’t we offer them a real diet?
For many of us, it’s simply a matter of time and convenience. It’s simply easy just to grab a bag of meal and a few dog food tins from the supermarket. Voila – Fido’s dinner is sorted.
I used to be guilty as charged… until nature intervened. My then eight-month-old border collie had a severe reaction to something in the garden and went mad scratching. A dose of cortisone fixed the problem, but unfortunately also knocked out the good bacteria in his gut, leaving him with stomach issues. He turned into an extremely fussy eater and went off almost everything.
In desperation I went to a holistic vet, who essentially told me to throw everything I was feeding him out the window and start again.
Before too long, my dog and I were eating almost the same dinners!
My dog’s diet changed from meal and canned dog food to cooked Basmati rice, lightly steamed vegetables and a probiotic supplement to help populate his gut with good bacteria. Those Aldi dog treats – so full of salt and sugar – were replaced with pieces of cooked chicken or liver.
Three years on, I can’t pretend I feed the diet recommended by the vet exclusively, but I do try and feed my dog a much more balanced diet. His eating issues are now just a distant memory.
Here are some of the things you can add to your dog’s diet to make it a little healthier:
Cooked rice is great when you can manage it, but even if you use meal as a base, you can make his dinner more balanced with a little thought. Make sure it is a good-quality meal to start with though. My vet recommended IAMS.
I found sticking a list of suitable additives on the fridge helped remind me to give them to him whenever they were available.
I started adding a good quality mince to his meal or rice on a regular basis, but rotating the type of mince. Every time I cooked veggies for us, I also added some for my dog and mixed them with his meal, and this included sweet potato.
My vet also recommended are eggs, canned salmon, sardines and chicken necks.
Other additives nutritionists suggest are cottage cheese or plain yoghurt, alfalfa powder and a good multi-complex, plus calcium and fish oil.
Fresh bones are also good as a treat, although more as something to chew on during the day than part of their dinner.
Be sure to introduce any new foods slowly and keep a close eye on your dog. My other border collie started getting hotspots when he was fed beef mince, so that had to be dropped from the menu.
Oh, and don’t forget: keep your dog away from onions or excessive garlic, which means you won’t be able to share that pot of spaghetti bolognese.
Of course, this all comes with a major caveat: every dog is different, and advice will often vary. Be sure to discuss your dog’s diet with a trusted vet before committing to any major changes.
What do you feed your dogs? Which ingredients has your dog most enjoyed – and which have you had to avoid? Share your tips with the Starts at 60 community below!