Healthy Foods for Happy Dogs

by | Dec 1, 2017 | Aggie Life, Animal Science, Fall/Winter 2017-18

Dogs may love mealtime, but not all foods are good for them. With obesity becoming more common in pets, maintaining a lean body mass is increasingly vital for keeping dogs healthy. “It’s actually the only thing that’s been shown to improve lifespan in pets,” said Jennifer Larsen, a professor of nutrition at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Here, Larsen shares her tips on healthy ways to feed your dog.

  • Read the nutrition label. Most commercial dog foods have labels that tell consumers the estimated proper serving size for their pets. For details, Larsen recommends checking the Nutritional Adequacy Statement, which tells consumers whether the food is complete and balanced and the life stage for which the food is formulated.
  • Certain human foods are good for dogs. “Fruits and vegetables allow you to give a lot of volume without a lot of calories,” said Larsen. Owners should watch out for grapes, raisins and meat- or sweet potato-based jerky treats, all of which are known to cause kidney damage. Also avoid chocolate, caffeine, raw bread dough and macadamia nuts.
  • Treats such as carrots and apples can help maintain a balanced diet for dogs as long as they do not provide more than 10 percent of the dog’s daily calorie intake. The other 90 percent should come from the regular diet, said Larsen.
  • Ask your vet. Ultimately, veterinarians know what foods are best for your dog.