Is healthy people food also healthy pet food? This is a question I have wondered for a while. Not being a pet owner myself, I had to turn to a pro to get the answer. Dr. Louise Murray is a highly sought after veterinary expert. She is the author of Vet Confidential, an insider’s guide to protecting your pet’s health. Dr. Murray serves as Vice President of the New York ASPCA, and she is currently an advisor for Wellness TruFood pet food. She seems like a pretty good person to ask, don’t you think? Here are Dr. Murray’s thoughts as to whether healthy people food is also healthy pet food:
People food for pets: Is what’s good for us good for them too?
Pets are our family. They ride in our cars, sleep in our beds, eat in our kitchens, and are featured on our holiday cards. Because they are our family members, we sometimes forget they are not actually human, and assume that everything good for us must be good for them too. While this is not in fact the case— and below we’ll discuss some “people foods” that can actually harm our furry friends—there are certain foods that carry nutritional advantages for all of us. One natural pet food company that offers ingredients similar to what you’ll find on your dinner plate is Wellness TruFood, which is made with ingredients like pumpkin, flaxseed, chickpeas and green beans, among other ingredients traditionally falling in the “people food” category, in their pet food and treats.
So what are some food items that are healthy for us, but not for our pets? Dark chocolate, for one. Most folks know by now that chocolate is highly toxic to dogs, and the darker and more solid it is, the more dangerous. What comes as a surprise to many pet owners is that grapes and raisins are also a danger to dogs—they can cause kidney damage and failure for our canine friends.
Also on the list of pet no-no’s is xylitol, a non-sugar carbohydrate sweetener found in sugar-free gums, candies, and baked goods. Xylitol is an excellent oral antibacterial for humans, but can cause seizures and liver damage in dogs.
So what are some things that are good for us to eat, that are safe for pets and can carry nutritional benefits for them as well? A few examples are listed below.
Legumes such as chick peas and lentils are on the list of healthy foods for all of us, people and pets alike. Lentils, for example, are packed with protein, fiber, iron, and vitamins, and can be a great natural protein source for pet foods.
Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants, and much of the research regarding their potential positive effects has actually been done in various species of animals, including dogs.
Pumpkin, while traditionally associated with decorating and pie, is loaded with natural fiber and moisture, and low in calories. Vets often use pumpkin to keep pets’ digestive tracts moving along properly.
Probiotics, in foods or as supplements, have received wide attention recently in both human and veterinary medicine for a variety of uses including gastrointestinal tract health and immune regulation. The medical professions are continuing to research and discover all the possibilities surrounding the use of probiotics for both animals and people.
Rather than serving up platter of lentils to your companion, it’s best to be sure that even the healthiest of foods come to your pet in a balanced diet designed specifically for dogs or cats (who are very different in their nutritional needs). You can look for pet foods with these ingredients, such as Wellness TruFood.
The bottom line? Always check with your vet before assuming something good for us is also good for your pet. And in general, even the most nutritious of foods should be part of a complete and balanced diet formulated by veterinary nutritional experts.
Thanks to Dr. Murray for sharing her insights. Which healthy pet food are you feeding to your furry family members?
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