With the holiday season almost in full-swing, we need to know what we can and cannot share with the members of our pup family! Read on to learn more about what fall foods are safe for your pets and try a tasty, healthy treat recipe featuring some yummy in-season ingredients for your beloved pets to enjoy!
The holiday season has arrived, and with that comes the temptations for us human counterparts to enjoy the leftover Halloween candy (hello chocolate!) and other sweets and goodies that come with fall baking and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
I don’t know about you, but I know my pets love to beg for a bite (or let’s be honest, the full plate) of our delicious treats and meals we often prepare for our loved ones this time of year. But, of course, our canine and feline friends are part of the family, and they deserve to enjoy the bounties from the season, too, right? With that said, it’s incredibly important that we continue to keep our pet family members’ health in mind when offering snacks and items from our own plates and avoid any food items that may be harmful.
See that bowl of Halloween candy calling your name? If you do, have some for me, but be sure not to share with your pet! Chocolate, among many other tasty human treats, is not good for our canine friends.
Take note that other foods such as nuts, grapes, raisins, salty foods, foods containing xylitol, and alcohol should never be given to your dog. Some of these food items, even in small amounts, can wreak havoc on our pets’ internal organs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, and even death. (We don’t want to scare you, but yes, what you feed your pet is that important).
If you’re still wondering just what xylitol is, as I was when I first learned this, then please continue to read on as we share more below.
So what foods are best for our canine pals?
We don’t want to feed our dogs just any table scraps and leftovers in the fridge. Feeding them spicy and/or fatty foods can cause tummy troubles, and even giving your dog meats saturated in too much sauce can cause them to have an upset stomach. Remember, everything is best in moderation. (And as I sit here staring at a bowl of Halloween candy, I will do my best to remember that. Moderation!) As we want to maintain healthy, strong immune systems for ourselves and our human family members, I have to say I think our canine (and feline) friends deserve the same!
Below is a list we have compiled of foods that are not only healthy and nutritious for us humans (and particularly common this time of year), but are also foods we can feel confident feeding and sharing with our beloved pets!
While I think many of us know that carrots are good for our human eyes (thanks to Vitamin A), we can also confidently share these tasty treats with our canines due to other health benefits. (And yep, they’re good for dogs’ eyes, too). Carrots, while not only high in fiber (helping keep diarrhea at bay) they will also help keep your canine’s mouth clean while helping remove plaque from your dogs’ teeth.
As mentioned, carrots contain Vitamin A which is an essential vitamin for dogs. It boosts the immune system while also helping to improve our dogs’ coats. But remember moderation? Just as the Halloween candy sitting on my kitchen counter tempts me, too much of a good thing isn’t actually a good thing; too much Vitamin A can actually be toxic to our pets.
Additionally, it is best to slightly boil carrots for your dog before serving them, as raw carrots are much more difficult for them to ingest and digest. And as always, remember to consult your veterinarian if you have any specific questions or concerns about your pets’ vitamin intake and needs.
Yes, that’s right. The jack-o-lantern, possibly still sitting outside on your stoop, contains ingredients that are really good for your canine! I don’t know about you, but our family really enjoys carving pumpkins together, although to be honest, I’d never considered just how healthy and nutritious those “guts” from the pumpkins can be for our pets! Did you know pumpkin is a super food? I know I enjoy pumpkin pie every year at Thanksgiving. (A second slice? Don’t mind if I do… it is a super food, after all!) But now is also the perfect time to share this treat with your pups! (Just please be sure to only feed your dog canned or fresh pumpkin, as we don’t want to risk them ingesting any mold or bacteria that may have grown on the pumpkins that have been sitting on your porch).
Not only are pumpkins full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they also contain oils that help your dogs’ urinary tract, and they’re also known as a common deworming agent due to the amino acid, cucurbatin, that is in pumpkin seeds. Additionally, pumpkin can aid in digestion while also adding bulk to stool, helping to again reduce diarrhea. Pumpkins for your pup are healthy and tasty; a perfect combination!
3. Sweet Potatoes
One of my favorite dishes to see at our annual Thanksgiving dinners is sweet potatoes. Delicious, right? If you’re anything like me, they’re one of the first items to disappear from my plate. But, if you happen to dislike them, please feel free to feed them to your dog! Sweet potatoes are not only high in potassium but also Vitamins A, C and B6, all of which work together to protect eyesight, regulate muscle cells, correct balance of fluids in the body, and provide healthy fur and skin for your dog. But, as I continue to mention, moderation is key. Please remember to use sparingly in your pets’ diet.
4. Apple Slices
If you have leftover apples from any baking you’ve done, or enjoy buying apples for your family on a regular basis, don’t forget to share with your dog. Apple slices are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and they also help keep your dogs’ teeth clean! But be sure to take out the seeds and/or cut the apple first before giving it to your beloved pet, as the seeds and core can be choking hazards.
5. Peanut Butter
Anything that has “butter” and “healthy” in the same sentence is okay in my book! But yes, that’s right, peanut butter can be healthy for your dog! Not only is peanut butter a great source of protein, it also contains healthy fats, Vitamin E, Vitamin B, and niacin. Now, remember when I mentioned the forbidden xylitol above? Xylitol, an artificial sweetener/sugar substitute, can be found in some forms and brands of peanut butter, and it is extremely toxic to dogs. This ingredient is incredibly important for you to watch out for as it can be found in many other products including candies, baked goods, pudding snacks and toothpaste, among others. When buying peanut butter, make sure you choose regular, raw, unsalted, and/or unsweetened peanut butter that does NOT contain xylitol. While many of us humans may find ourselves reaching for “sugar-free” products with items containing sugar replacements, we cannot allow ourselves to purchase or share these “lite” products with our pets, as they can prove to be extremely toxic to their systems, potentially causing hypoglycemia or liver damage which can be life-threatening. Additionally, as that pesky “moderation” word comes into play again – too much peanut butter can contribute to obesity as well as pancreatitis.
Another favorite food in our house, especially during the fall season, is a warm, hearty bowl of oatmeal! With it being a great source of fiber, particularly great for senior dogs or any dogs with irregularity in bowel habits, oatmeal is also an excellent source of carbohydrates and omega-6 fatty acids. If you have a beloved pet with sensitivities to grains, as even some of our human friends are, then oatmeal is an excellent option. It is not highly processed and is a great option for dogs who cannot have other grains. Did you know the nutrients found in oatmeal can also help decrease depression and anxiety in dogs? While that may want you to pour oatmeal all over your dogs’ food bowl (and maybe yours too!), remember that while it can be a healthy addition, it should not replace your dogs’ diet. Just as the other foods on this list, it should act as a healthy snack or alternative on occasion.
7. Green Beans
Green bean casserole; another common and heavily eaten dish passed around at my families’ Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you love it or hate it, you can be sure that the main ingredient, green beans, are very much pet-approved. If your dog is overweight or in need of some healthier snack options, try throwing some green beans their way. But please, skip the casserole. Dogs will be best served eating the green beans on their own. Maybe they will thank you? The added salt, spice, garlic, onions, oil, etc., are not healthy for your dog to ingest. Green beans are full of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, iron, and magnesium, all of which work together to help the blood clotting process, promote healthy blood composition, transport healthy, oxygen-rich blood, support the immune system, and aid in overall blood health, among other benefits!
8. Some Berries
Please be mindful that not all berries are safe for pets and dogs. While berries such as blueberries, strawberries and blackberries ARE safe for dogs, there are berries such as cherries, juniper berries and mistletoe that are not. The latter are all either choking hazards due to pits, or have chemicals that are unsafe for your pets. While not all berries are safe, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are all excellent options to feed to your pet in moderation. They each have a large number of antioxidants to combat free radicals and help to slow down the aging process. Additionally, some of these berries may prove to reduce the risk of cancer in pets. Particularly, the phytochemicals found in blueberries may help prevent cancer and reduce the damage done by carcinogens. Not only that, but the vitamin C found in many berries can also help calm your dog, reducing symptoms of anxiety when eaten in moderate amounts.
While each of these food items can help your dog to live a more vibrant and healthy life, remember again that it is best to serve only small to moderate amounts of these foods and to monitor your beloved pet for any signs or symptoms of a reaction to foods not typically found in their diets. As always, please consult your pets’ veterinarian for any questions and concerns regarding their diet and how to best meet their nutritional needs.
Feeling inspired to make your dogs some tasty treats? Try this one below that includes a few of the healthy food items listed above, from The Dog Bakery.
Soft Peanut Butter Carrot Dog Treats
1 large carrot shredded (around 2/3 cup)
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
¾ cup skim milk
1 large egg (or ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce)
2 and ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup oats (either whole-rolled or quick oats)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, milk, egg and carrot. Add the flour and baking powder. You may need to turn the dough onto a floured work surface and use your hands to work in the flour. Then mix in the oats. The dough will be very thick and heavy.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into ¼” thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters and then arrange on baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven and flip to bake on the other side for an additional 10 minutes.
Allow to completely cool before serving. Store at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 1 week. (Or freeze them!)
Want more healthy dog treat recipe ideas? Check out The Dog Bakery's recipe page to learn more!
While a healthy diet cannot replace adequate activity and exercise, we know, just like our human diets, that eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals is good for our overall health and well-being. Making sure our pets are getting the proper nutrition can help us feel more confident that we are doing all we can to provide our pets with healthy, active and fulfilling, long lives!
*Keep in mind that puppies and senior dogs, for example, may have different caloric and vitamin/mineral needs. Please talk to your local veterinarian if you have questions about how much or how little your dog should be taking in. If you live in the Milwaukee area and need a well-trusted veterinarian, let us know. We will do what we can to direct you to a well-trusted and reliable care provider in the area.