Our pets are our family, so why not feed them like family beyond the occasional assortment of table scraps?
For one, the U.S. pet food market provides no shortage of options for pets of all types and lifestyles. This includes, but isn’t limited to, everything from grain-free kibble, to fresh and refrigerated preparations, to age-specific formulations, to products featuring condition-specific ingredients that address issues such as digestive health, joint pain, and weight concerns. Just as important as the availability of these products is the willingness of pet parents to actually pay often premium prices for them if it means safeguarding the health and wellness of their fur babies.
In addition, pet food is more accessible than ever. This is largely due to the rapid acceleration of online sales, driven especially by Chewy.com and Amazon.com, whose swift advances have been more than offsetting any resultant drag on brick-and-mortar sales.
The results of these trends, among others, have created sustained pet industry growth. Packaged Facts estimates the U.S. retail market for dog and cat food was up 7% in 2020 as sales approached $31 billion. Growth for dog and cat food was on par with growth in the overall pet food and treat market, which had estimated sales of $39 billion last year. It's an industry so large and lucrative that even ice cream icon Ben & Jerry's recently announced it will enter the pet food and treat space via a new line of frozen desserts for dogs.
Pet owners also must consider that many human foods contain nutrients in quantities that just aren’t conducive to a healthy dog’s diet. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommend a minimum protein count of 18% and a minimum fat count of 5.5% for adult dogs. The maximum varies depending on the dog’s activity level and metabolism.
Ultimately, although some human foods are extremely unhealthy for dogs, others are not only acceptable, but are actually quite good for them. In fact, a few particular human foods can give dogs a sleek and healthy coat, well-nourished skin, and a strong immune system.
Here are the 10 healthiest human foods you should be feeding your dog:
1. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is nutrient and calorie-dense, and packed with fiber. It contains potassium, manganese, and an array of vitamins. Many dogs can’t stomach white potatoes, so this is the healthier option. Never feed your dog raw potato, though - it can be poisonous.
Pumpkin is a tasty, high-fiber superfood. It’s fantastic for dogs who need help soothing their digestive system. They can eat the skin, the flesh, and the seeds. Small dogs should get a teaspoon or two per day, while large dogs can get up to five tablespoons.
Your dog should eat eggs in moderation. They’re rich in amino acids and high in protein, and can be eaten raw or cooked. You can even grind up eggshells and sprinkle them into your dog’s food for an extra calcium boost.
A carrot can make a great alternative to a dental chew. The crunchy orange veggies keep dogs’ teeth cleaner, and are low in fat and calories. They’re also rich in beta-carotene, which helps improve eyesight. Yes, it’s not a myth!
5. Peanut Butter
A tasty treat for your dog, this high-protein, healthy fat and vitamin-rich spread can be stuffed into a chew toy for hours of fun. It’s imperative that you make sure it’s sugar-free and also contains no artificial sweeteners.
Oatmeal is high in fiber, so it’s great for dogs who need some digestive help, or seniors. It’s also quite bland, so it’s a good choice for dogs who have been struggling with an upset stomach. Be sure to prepare and serve it with no sweeteners or spices.
Salmon is top choice, but it’s an expensive choice. If you can’t go with salmon, whitefish is another great choice. Fish are loaded with omega fatty acids which spruce up the skin and coat, and keep the brain healthy. Make sure it’s properly cooked and not spiced.
The probiotics in yogurt can help soothe your dog’s upset tummy. It’s also high in calcium and vitamins. Make sure you’re choosing varieties that are unsweetened and contain live cultures. Freeze it into popsicles for a great dog-friendly summer snack.
These berries are not only a tasty snack, but also contain extremely high levels of antioxidants. They can help slow the aging process, prevent cancer, and improve your pup’s general health. Strawberries are a close second, and contain an enzyme that can whiten your dog’s teeth.
10. Brown Rice
This complex carbohydrate digests slowly, providing a constant release of energy. Brown rice also contains insoluble fiber, iron, vitamin B3, and vitamin D. It’s also great for dogs with heart problems as it’s low in sodium.
Choosing to supplement your dog’s regular kibble with some of these healthy human food options can add an extra boost to their immune system, digestive system, and skin and coat.
Next time you go to the store, you don’t even need to buy separate food for your dog! They’re part of the family, after all. Why not share our healthy foods with them too?
About the Guest Blogger
Mike Powell is a dog-lover, and he loves to write about them. He owns an informational blog, Dog Embassy, in which he shares many tips on how to take care of your dogs.