Topping Your Pet’s Food With People Foods
Can I add toppings (like raw or cooked meats, raw meaty bones or veggies and fruits) to my dog’s bowl?
Our complete Honest Kitchen diets have balanced levels of nutrients to allow additional raw meat, raw meaty bones or cooked meats to be added as a topping, if desired, without disrupting critical nutritional values.
Adding in real foods like meats, veggies and fruits to your pets meals is a great idea, because it offers increased nutritional variety and can help prevent fussiness and boredom. Rotating between different recipes and mixing in other foods can also help reduce the chance of your dog developing allergies to ingredients, which could occur in pets who eat a very monotonous diet that provides limited exposure to different foods.
Here are a few ideas for healthy ‘people foods’ that can be added to your dog’s meals in moderation. Before making dietary changes, it’s advisable to discuss your pet’s individual needs with your vet or a nutritionist.
Fresh cooked or raw meat such as ground beef, turkey, chicken, venison, duck, buffalo or other exotic meats. We suggest using a meat that is hormone and antibiotic free, and ideally, organic. Many holistic vets advise against feeding raw pork on a regular basis. However, it does work well for some dogs, especially those needing a ‘cooling’ meat according to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles.
- Fish (raw or canned) – moderate quantities of canned mackerel and sardines are popular with most dogs; whitefish is a good choice for more sensitive animals. Poached salmon, haddock and cod are also great to try.
- Eggs can be served raw for many pets, or lightly scrambled if preferred. They provide protein, fat and other nutrients like choline and lutein.
- Kefir, plain yogurt or cottage cheese contain calcium, phosphorus and other nutrients (as well as probiotics in the case of the first two).
- Rolled old fashioned or instant oats, cooked quinoa, rolled barley or brown rice provide soluble fiber to aid digestive regularity and can also assist some pets in gaining weight.
- Raw or lightly steamed vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, chopped kale, chard and spinach can be added to meals in limited quantities.
- Orange veggies like grated carrots, as well as sweet potatoes and yams (both of which can be steamed before serving) are a great idea in moderate amounts, and provide high levels of vitamin A.
- A pinch of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or fresh mint, as well as alfalfa sprouts and pea shoots are also excellent sources of valuable phytonutrients.
- Fresh or dried fruits like cranberries, figs, bananas, apples and melon are loved by many dogs as an occasional add-in.
- A few seeds or nuts such as flaked almonds, chia or coconut can also make an interesting addition from time to time.
Raw or Cooked?
Here at The Honest Kitchen, we believe that every animal is an individual and it’s important to feed according to your own pet’s unique needs. A raw diet is recognized to be highly nutritious and closer to the way nature intended, but can also carry some risks if the food isn’t properly stored and handled. We don’t usually recommend feeding raw food to very elderly dogs or those who have a compromised immune system.
Pork and some fish such as salmon are best offered cooked, to reduce the risk avoid the danger of trichinosis or other parasites. If you aren’t not comfortable feeding raw, then a lightly cooked, steamed or dehydrated food is a great choice. You should only feed do what you and your vet feel is right for your own pet, and what you and your family are comfortable with.
Pets’ meals should be made up primarily of meat, in order to provide a good balance of nutrients as well as essential amino acids such as taurine, methionine and cystine, which are important for heart health and supplied in animal proteins such as meat, fish and eggs. You can add moderate quantities of a variety of foods in rotation, but animal protein should form the majority of meals.
We recommend adding in a maximum of about ½ cup of ‘extras’ for every one cup of dry measured Honest Kitchen food. As a suggestion, for every ½ cup of extras you add, you can reduce the regular food by about ¼ cup. If you’re just mixing in limited quantities of extras from time to time, such as a table spoon of yogurt or some leftover poached salmon, you can probably serve the usual amount of regular food unless your pet tends to gain weight very easily.
Digestive enzymes and probiotics are also a good addition to any dog’s diet, especially dogs over eight years old. Some digestive enzymes we recommend are Prozyme, Total-zymes and Dr.Goodpet.
What NOT to Feed Your Dog
A few foods that people enjoy regularly are actually not safe for pets. These include:
- Macadamia nuts
- Avocado skin or seed
- Candy, Sugar free gum, or any food which contains xylitol
- Fried, processed or excessively fatty foods
Meaty bones are a great addition to the diet for many pets and must always be fed raw. We suggest feeding a raw bone maybe once a week to keep your pets jaw exercised. NEVER FEED COOKED BONE! These can splinter and cause your pet to choke. Make sure when you choose a bone for your pup that it is the right size for them so they will not choke. We recommend introducing bones under the guidance of a holistic veterinarian.
Some people are more comfortable topping their pet’s bowl with pre-ground bones at first, rather than whole ones. Cats and dogs have shorter digestive tracts than humans and are better able to digest various raw bones and cartilage with ease. Always store and handle raw meat and bones safely to avoid spoilage or contamination. Raw beef marrow (soup) bones make excellent recreational bones and will delight most dogs. These are not actually consumed but gnawed on, and help to maintain clean, white, sparkling teeth and healthy pink gums.
Several commercial pet food companies such as Small Batch and Primal Pet Foods offer a good selection of raw meaty bones, but otherwise you can just get chicken necks and backs, beef knuckles and marrow bones, etc. from your local natural health food market.