When it comes to your best friend, it is important to remember that their diet plays a crucial role in their health and we should remember to feed them a protein enriched diet. Since canines thrive on protein, your top ingredients on their dry kibble should be protein. I would recommend checking out http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/ to see if the food you feed is up to par.
Aside from feeding your furry family member a healthy protein diet, the follow are great additions and snacks to feed your ever growing dog! The following 7 Super Foods for your dog are all from personal experience but always consult with your vet beforehand.
1) Canned Pumpkin Puree
I almost always keep one in my cabinet because it is super beneficial for my dog. When she gets into the trash or when she is constipated, I always feed a tablespoon in her dry kibble. Not only does she enjoy the taste, it is filled with fiber; if your fur-member has trouble going to the restroom, putting a tablespoon is a great, cheap alternative compared to over the counter medication. So, if your pup has a tendency of going through the trash or snacking on people's trash when you guys go for a walk, keep one in the cabinet. You won't regret it. If there is a Sprouts near you, you can usually buy one for a little more than a dollar.
2) Apple Cider Vinegar
I know what you are thinking-- It smells! I completely agree with you but I use it to help with my dog's skin and fur issues. I have a Golden Retriever and when the seasons change, she starts developing hot spots and itches constantly. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in her food everyday helps soothe her skin. If it gets bad, you can bathe your dog in ACV but be prepared to handle the smell. There are online recipes on how much you should mix with water and other ingredients so that the smell isn't as potent. A good rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons of ACV to 1 quartz of water.
I have also used ACV for my golden's paws. When she runs on cement or dirt, sometimes her paws do rip and they do get irritated; she tends to lick them after we play and we usually find out that they are raw. I tend to soak them in 2 parts water, 1 part ACV. After, I will wrap my socks around her paws (she hates it).
Beforehand, please make sure your dog is not allergic!
3) Fish Oil
I think this one is very common among dog owners because it is always recommended due to its numerous benefits. From improving skin and fur quality to its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil is almost the go-to for supplement for dog parents. I have fed my golden fish oil ever since she was a pup. I usually give 2 fish oil capsules, pop them with a needle and squirt it on her kibble. When feeding fish oil, make sure you do not give them too much. From what I have read, when you have too much omega 3 in your system, it can cause vitamin E deficiency. I always do 2 parts fish oil and 1 capsule of vitamin E but it will be different depending on your dog's size and weight.
Apples are a great alternative to your Milk-Bone, Beggin' Strips, and Jerky. Not only are those snacks prone to recalls, but most of them include ingredients that are harmful to your pup. Apples are cheaper, full of antioxidants, fiber, and my dog loves the taste. When feeding apples to your pup, please remember to not give them the core, which has the seed. If possible, try to cut the apples into small pieces and can be a great treat used for dog training. Please remember that snacks are good in moderation. Please do not use apples as meal replacements because of the low protein content.
5) Vitamin E
Like stated earlier with fish oil, vitamin E is almost essential if you are feeding your dog fish oil to prevent vitamin E deficiency. You should include 1 capsule of 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E. Additional benefits include boosting and supporting the immune system, injury recovery, and helps keep the skin moisturized. But like all vitamins, please take in moderation. Since vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, it is stored in the body, which can cause issues in the liver.
6) Coconut Oil
I personally do not have experience with coconut oil but my friend swears by it. By feeding her dogs coconut oil, she says she sees a big improvement in their coat quality and dog scent. There are numerous benefits listed for coconut oil, such as improved digestion, which could improve your dog's breath, nutrition absorption, and many more. It is recommended to include it in their food, and like all good things, please use in moderation.
Before we dive into the wonderful world of yogurt, please understand that when we say yogurt, we mean plain yogurt; yogurt with additives and artificial flavorings might be your favorite, but they should not be fed to your dogs. Personally, I feed yogurt to my dog once a week. I did not want to overwhelm her stomach with too many different types of foods and oils. Yogurt is a great way to help clean the nasty bacteria in their stomach and a great replacement for probiotic pills. I usually feed her yogurt a couple of hours after her dinner meal, but you are more than welcome to include it in their kibble. I eat plain yogurt and purchase it on a weekly basis; therefore, giving my dog yogurt is as simple as making sure I go to the grocery store.
With all these super foods and oils, please remember to read labels and do your research beforehand. For example, not every fish oil brand is made equally and not every yogurt brand that states they are plain are truly plain. Please be diligent and proactive in understanding what your dog is eating because, in the end, we want our dogs to be with us for as long as they can. Eating right will get them on that path.