Healthy diet for your dog
Is your dog overweight, lethargic, or plagued by persistent medical conditions? If so, your dog’s health problems likely have a correlation to commercial dog food, treats, and other calorie sources consistently consumed over his lifetime. Despite extensive research going into the production of reputedly “nutritionally complete” pet foods by major companies, the correlation between chronic, potentially preventable diseases and ingestion of highly processed pet foods is increasingly becoming apparent.
In my clinical practice, I see obesity, endocrine abnormalities (hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, etc.), and inflammatory conditions of the joints (osteoarthritis, other), digestive tract (inflammatory bowel disease, other), and skin (allergic skin disease, other) correlating with long-term consumption of these foods.
Fortunately for dogs belonging to health-conscious owners, commercially available, highly processed foods are increasingly shunned. Whole food options are being home prepared or purchased by canine caretakers seeking better nutritional alternatives to conventional canned or dry dog foods. As my training is in both Western (conventional) and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), I look deep into the potential inciting causes of disease from both perspectives. Ultimately, many effective methods of preventing and treating most common diseases stem from food energy.
One simple way to vastly improve your dog’s diet is to reduce consumption of highly processed pet foods and incorporate whole food sources. The easiest way to start is to replace a portion of your dog’s existing diet with raw or cooked fresh vegetables. Veggies pack a moisture, nutrient, and fiber-rich punch to kick start your dog’s depleted body. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, and spinach are my first line of cruciferous ammunition. They can be used singularly or in combination. Other options include asparagus, kale, spinach, beets, and squash.
For my canine patients, I recommend specific vegetables based on their warming, cooling, or neutral energetic capabilities. Warming (Yang) food energies help to move blood and heat up the body. Cooling (Yin) food energies moisturize and reduce heat.
As for preparation, I suggest lightly steaming the veggies in filtered water until they are soft but still maintain their vibrant, healthful color. Post-steaming, puree the vegetables until smooth in a blender or food processor. The puree can be put in individual or multiple serving containers for refrigerator or freezer storage. The mix can be easily combined with your dog’s existing diet, as it will coat the surface of dry, canned, or other food formats.
I practice what I preach, as my own dog, Cardiff, eats a home-prepared diet of steamed, pureed cooling and neutral vegetables along with commercially available cooling protein patties. I also eat some of the puree that I make for Cardiff, so we both reap the health benefits.
The ultimate goal is to feed your dog foods that are as close to being in the format that nature made them. This April Fool’s Day, make the effort to “April fool” your dog into eating a more healthful diet!