Things in your fridge it’s OK to feed your dog

Five kibble-enhancements

June 17, 2013

In my book, it’s not just OK to feed your dog some fresh food; it’s vital.

When I was a new mother, I was horrified at the idea of filling up my baby’s little tummy with what they called baby cereal. You know — the stuff coming out of the box that looks like shredded plastic. And when you mix it with water, you get something that looks like papier-mâché paste.

Nope. Not doing it. Going to give baby real food. (And hence the book Feeding the Whole Family.)

Cynthia’s dog, Olive.

When I became a proud dog owner, and started scooping brown pebbles into the bowl each day, I had baby-food flashbacks. The canine stuff smelled better than the baby cereal, but it looked even worse.

The last thing I needed were more things to do, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give my dog kibble alone. So I did some research, and figured out which fresh foods I could give my dog to supplement her diet.

Most of the items listed below are found in dog treats and in some high-priced kibble. But there they have been dehydrated and pulverized beyond recognition. I say, give Fido the real McCoy.

Don’t go crazy and switch your kibble-eatin’ mutt to a total real-food diet all at once. But do consider adding a tablespoon or two of fresh food to her bowl each day. Her coat will shine and her breath will be fresher.

  1. Fresh green herbs. When I’m chopping parsley, mint, basil, or cilantro to put in a dish I am cooking for humans, I always chop extra and throw it in the dog-food container that lives in my refrigerator.
  2. Cooked sweet potato. This vitamin-rich vegetable is amazingly versatile. If your doggy likes sweet things, like a slice of apple, he’s going to swoon over a tablespoon or two of mashed sweet potato in his kibble.
  3. Finely grated carrots. Vitamin A and C for Fluffy can be found in the common carrot. Anytime I use my food processor, I give it a quick rinse, then throw carrots and a few leaves of a dark green leafy vegetable in there and pulse it fine. (Dogs don’t really have the right teeth for grinding vegetables, so we need to do it for them.) I save the purée in the fridge, then add a tablespoon of it to my dog’s food each day.
  4. Cottage cheese. Dogs love it. Plus, it’s lean protein. A little plain yogurt is nice, too. Just a tablespoon or so a day is plenty for a medium dog (35 to 45 pounds).
  5. Eggs. Our dog is so used to egg treats that as soon as she smells one of us making breakfast, she sits, stares, and drools. Needless to say, we almost always scramble an extra one just for her.

Bonus for summer: Not only can you make a little fresh food for your best canine friend, you can make your own flea spray instead of dousing your doggy in chemicals. It’s easy; here we show you how on Cookus Interruptus.

Read more on Culinate about feeding dogs: Make treats for your dogs, Going to the dogs, and Dog’s Stodge.

There are 10 comments on this item
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1. by anonymous on Jun 23, 2013 at 3:24 PM PDT

Our yellow lab adores fresh green beans, sugar snap peas, carrots and most all, fresh mushrooms. He’s selective - baby bella or white button, or a bite of portabella if the gills are removed. Our vet recommended a hard boiled (white part only) once or twice per week for added protein. For a special treat he gets a bite or two of broiled or poached salmon if it’s on our dinner menu. Life’s too short for just kibbles!

2. by Cynthia Lair on Jun 24, 2013 at 7:55 AM PDT

Agreed! life IS too short for just kibble!

3. by anonymous on Jun 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM PDT

I forgot avocados for a super silky coat.

4. by anonymous on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:45 AM PDT

My English Mastiff pup loves eggs, carrots, winter squash flesh & skin, watermelon, apples, yogurt, ricotta, radishes, tomatoes, cheese, peanut butter, mango, fresh peas. I keep a freezer bag in which I put peels from roasted squash, chopped up fruit the kids didn’t finish, etc. When she hears me in the freezer she comes and sits, hoping I’m getting her a treat.

We have also had luck putting medicine in a bit of rind of stinky soft cheese! If she has loose stools, she gets kefir in her bowl. She also likes to lick citrus fruit, especially grapefruit. Silly puppy....

5. by anonymous on Jul 7, 2013 at 1:11 AM PDT

One of my dogs actually loves cucumbers so much that in the summer she goes to the garden and finds the ones we miss! This year she might be disappointed, they aren’t coming up so great. All three love collards and one actually loves baby limas.

6. by anonymous on Aug 2, 2013 at 11:41 PM PDT

ty for this and that dog is so cute!! I miss my boxer

7. by noxious.sunshine on Aug 10, 2013 at 3:33 PM PDT

My sister feeds her dogs green beans and unsalted Quaker oats rice cakes (not too much of either) in their food. For a special treat, they get watermelon sometimes.

Our last boxer, Ellie, passed away this past November. My parents had a really bad habit of feeding her any and all scraps. She was incredibly fat, but it was cute. Boxers are the best breed.... Next to Newfoundlands. Lol

8. by margaret on Nov 9, 2013 at 8:59 AM PST

My veterinarian told me to give baby carrots and fresh or frozen green beans as treats. Not canned because they have too much salt.

9. by margaret on Nov 9, 2013 at 8:59 AM PST

My veterinarian told me to give baby carrots and fresh or frozen green beans as treats. Not canned because they have too much salt.

10. by Leo Blyden on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:31 AM PST

I really don’t understand why a dog should follow a diet, outside of the fact that it is growth into an apartment? I have two healty hokkaido dogs which are almost all the day outside in the forest of the village and run on the surrounding hills. And still they are very hapyy to see me and play with me! This I consider a real dog life!

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Cynthia’s High Five

Cynthia Lair is an assistant professor at Bastyr University, where she is the director of culinary curriculum. She can be found in print via her two cookbooks, Feeding the Whole Family and Feeding the Young Athlete, and online in the Web cooking show Cookus Interruptus. Watch her TEDx Rainier talk “How to Cut an Onion.”

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