The Healthiest ‘People Food’ for Your Furry Friends

The life of a Fit Bottomed Girl isn’t just about taking care of her own body but also the health and welfare of our beloved four-legged companions (hence, Fit Bottomed Pets Week!). It can be overwhelming to try to dissect all of the pet food advice that exists in the world, so we asked some experts on the best healthy “people” food you can safely feed your critters and help make them as happy and well-balanced as you!

However, we’ve got a few notes for you. First, human food should only be given to pets in small amounts unless you’ve set up a special diet with your vet or veterinary nutritionist, and even though certain foods can help out with upset tummies and such, you really need to talk to your vet before just diagnosing or treating your pet’s issues with something from your pantry. And finally, before giving your pet any food off your plate, check out the ASPCA’s list of foods to avoid giving your pet. They’ve got a handy app and a hotline to call, too, if you’re ever worried your furry friend ate something toxic!

margo-cats

Darlene Arden, C.A.B.C. (Certified Animal Behaviorist) and author of Rover: Get Off of Her Leg!

Canned pumpkin is the one human food to keep on standby for either dogs or cats. It has a dual purpose; it works for diarrhea by adding fiber to the diet, which will help make the stools more solid. It works for constipation if it’s due to lack of fiber in the body or if a cat has ingested too much hair while grooming, as it can help move hairballs through the system. (Remember to buy canned pumpkin only, not pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar and spices that aren’t good for your dog or cat.)

Always keep some organic baby food (or the little meat sticks in a jar). Baby food can be helpful if your dog or cat doesn’t feel like eating, but always check with your veterinarian first for a diagnosis of any potential health problem. (Editorial note: Be sure to check the full ingredient list to make sure all foods are safe for your pet! There are also lots of pet-specific products on the market now, like fragrant gravies and sauces, that you can add to your pet’s food to make it more appealing, especially for older pets whose sense of smell may have diminished.)

Karen Asp, Dog Fancy Columnist and Woman’s Day Contributing Editor

Try rice if you need something bland. I know there’s been some chatter about arsenic in rice and how that might affect dogs, but I use brown rice only after my golden Jessie has had any type of tummy upset (so not every day, in case you’re worried). It’s recommended that dogs eat a bland diet after getting sick, and you can’t get any blander than rice!

PB it up. Peanut butter is a staple in my own diet, and it’s great in small amounts for dogs, especially if you need to entice them to take medication (a dab will work wonders!) or just want to give them a treat. I’ll sometimes smear it on the inside of a Kong or other food puzzle. Not only does it offer protein and heart-healthy fats, it also gets dogs even more interested in the food puzzle, which provides mental and physical stimulation.

Lisa Peterson/ Creator of Lisa Unleashed

An apple a day also keeps the horse doctor away! Sharing this crisp fruit with your equine friend will keep you apprised of how his teeth are doing. If your horse is looking a little thin, it may be because he is having trouble chewing. Feeding him apple slices are good nutritionally but will also show you whether food is falling out of his mouth, an indication of pain from long teeth or rough edges. Watching him eat apples or smaller pieces will give you a clue to his oral health and whether you need to call the horse dentist.

An ubiquitous food in most refrigerators is mozzarella string cheese. The low-fat version can be a much healthier alternative for training treats than anything you can buy at the pet superstore, many of which are loaded with calories, artificial preservatives and colors. Plus, this tasty treat can be placed in your mouth during training exercises which will draw your dog’s attention to your face. And once your doggie is gazing into your eyes, she may actually listen to what you are asking her to do! (Editorial note: Definitely exercise plenty of moderation with this — dogs and cats can’t process lactose the way most humans can, so too much dairy can lead to stomach distress. And we all know how that goes!)

What are your favorite healthy “people” foods you feed your animals? —Margo

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