There has been a lot of chatter in social media lately about the best way to extend the lives of our pets. I love it! People are always saying how much their pets mean to them, and now we’re supporting that love with real ways to make our pets lives longer and happier.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid raw feeder. It took a while to get me past decades of training that ‘dog food’ is little brown pebbles. I love the results I have seen in my pets and thoseof my clients, and it just makes sense to eat cleaner, fresher foods.
But raw is not for everyone, I know that. That doesn’t mean you have to limit your pet to one type of kibble — and only kibble — for its entire life.
Studies are coming out which show that adding small amounts of fresh foods to your pets’ diets can make a tremendous difference in pet health. Some foods are more effective than others, and many have very specific benefits, which I will try to share here.
I watched a presentation years ago by Rodney Habib, co-author of The Forever dog with Dr. Karen Becker, in which he recommended some simple everyday items, such as a handful of kale leaves or a simple egg — fresh foods that we should be adding to processed diets. I have several bunches of kale in my freezer, ready to crumble and put in my dog’s food (tried it with my cat, but he picks out each little piece and leaves them in the bottom of his bowl). Eggs, either cooked or raw, are great nutritional bumps, and the membrane in the shell is loaded with cool nutrients.
In fact, the post that inspired this article was from Karen Becker. She wrote about using apiaceous vegetables (eg, carrots, cilantro, parsnips, fennel, celery, parsley), touting their antifungal and antibiotic properties. The thing that caught my eye was that the compounds in these foods are said to detoxify mycotoxins. Without getting too technical, mycotoxins are dangerous chemicals found in many pet foods. They come from using ‘feed-grade’ grains that were improperly stored and grown moulds. If adding some parsnips can help protect against this, let’s do it.
Another life-prolonging food we have in the fridge is spinach. Sure, it gives Popeye a boost, but it can also boost your pet’s longevity. Being high in folate, an essential B vitamin, spinach can reduce DNA damage, a big part of aging. To best release the beneficial folates, you need to puree the fresh spinach. Using some water or, even better, bone broth, blend the spinach into a puree, then freeze it in ice cube trays. Then you can pop one into your dog’s food any time you want.
Ice cube trays are one of the best ways to portion your fresh food additions, making up weeks- or months-worth of boosters at a time. Blend these things up, either together or separately, and even pop some berries or other foods into the trays first before adding the puree. Once frozen, you can pop them out into a freezer bag, then take them out at mealtime and add them to your bowl.
Another tip is to change up your kibble. Feed different flavors and different brands, keep it interesting for your pet, and vary the nutritional opportunities. If you can’t buy expensive food all the time, buy it occasionally and sprinkle it in.
Better nutrition is the best and easiest way to make our pets live longer, healthier lives. Bon appetit!
Pets Are People, Too
Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas email@example.com or visit www.thrivepetfoodmarket.com
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