There has been a lot of chatter in social media lately about the best way to extend our pets lives. I love it! People are always saying how much their pets mean to them, and now we are 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 my clients’ pets, and it just makes sense to eat cleaner, fresher foods.
But raw is not for everyone, I know that. But 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 that show adding in small amounts of fresh foods 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.
Watching a presentation by Rodney Habib years ago that led to his book “The Forever Dog”, the presentation and questions after had him recommending some simple everyday items. Like a handful of kale leaves, or a simple egg, fresh foods that we should be adding to a processed diet. 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 actually 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.
The latest post that inspired this article was from Karen Becker about using apiaceous vegetables (e.g., carrots, cilantro, parsnips, fennel, celery, parsley), touting their antifungal and antibiotic properties. The thing that caught my eye is that the compounds found in these foods are said to detoxify mycotoxins. Not to get too technical, mycotoxins are dangerous chemicals found in many pet foods. They come from using “feed grade” grains that were stored improperly, and grew molds that produce mycotoxins. Infected foods are banned from human use, but allowed in animal feed, including pet foods. Last year, six brands of foods were recalled for aflatoxin toxicity, over 100 pets died from the issue. If adding some parsnips can help protect against this, lets 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 folates, 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 better, bone broth, blend the spinach into a puree, and then freeze it off in ice cube trays. Then, any time you want, you can pop one into your dog’s food.
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, and take them out at mealtime and add them to your bowl.
Another tip, change up your kibble. Feed different flavours 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. Bone appetite!