If you know me, you know that my two precious yellow labs, Ziggy and Pogo, are pretty much my pride and joy. They are my companions, my snuggle bunnies, my running partners…they are two of my best friends. For those of you that aren’t animal lovers, this blog may not apply to you, but if you are… then keep reading.
My two loves, Ziggy (bottom) and Pogo (top).
We all are in the gym trying to bust our butt each week to get stronger. We try to de-stress our lives and sleep as much as we can. We try to fuel our bodies for success with proper food intake. Why do we do this?…Because we love ourselves and want to be the best ‘us’ we can be! We then hope to inspire those that we love to do the same. We encourage our friends to join us at the gym and to discover this “paleo” world we all have adopted. We cook healthy for ourselves, so then our family starts to eat healthy and they get motivated based on the results we achieve from this new found healthy lifestyle. Soooo…. why in the world, if your pets are part of your family and your best friends, wouldn’t you give them the same opportunity to be the healthiest they can be?
What does paleo for pets look like? Well…what does paleo for humans look like? Meat, veggies, fruit and healthy fat. There ya go, the same answer goes for Fido…within some reason. As you will find out, some of our “healthy” foods are bad for our pets. These “No No” foods are listed below. Other than those, stick to what you eat and assuming your pet does okay on them they can have the same thing.
Avocados – contain persin, a substance that can be toxic to dogs and cats. Found in skin, leaves, bark, pit and fruit.
Grapes and Raisins – for an unknown reason, these can cause kidney failure in dogs (even in small amounts).
Lemons/Limes/Grapefruit/Persimmons – can cause upset stomach
Garlic and Onions – in every form (cooked, raw, dehydrated, powdered) can destroy a dogs red blood cells, leading to anemia.
Cooked Bones – especially chicken bones, can splinter and cause lacerations and obstruction to your pets digestive tract
Raw Meat – this is debatable, but you run the risk of food poisoning/parasites just as humans do with eating raw meat. Plus your animal can absorb more nutrients when eating cooked meat.
Fruit Pits/Seeds – like cooked bones, can cause lacerations and obstruction of the digestive tract. Peach and Plum pits contain cyanide which is poisonous to both humans and animals, the difference is we know NOT to eat them
Corn – is the most common allergy seen among pets.
Macadamia Nuts – even just in small amounts can be seriously dangerous and possibly fatal.
Chocolate – all kinds of chocolate have theobromine, especially dark chocolate, which can cause numerous health issues and even death
Xylitol – an artificial sweetener found in gum, toothpaste, candy, etc. can cause liver failure due to increased insulin levels.
Caffeine – can be fatal to your pet without an antidote. (found in tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, soda, energy drinks)
Alcohol – same effect on animals as it does in people, but takes WAY less to negatively effect you animal than it does you.
Dairy Products – like humans, it can cause stomach irritation and food allergies
Sugar – same effect on animals as humans, too much sugar increases the risk of obesity, dental problems, diabetes
Salt – too much salt/salt foods can result in excessive thirst and urination, possibly leading to sodium ion poisoning
Grains/Baked Goods – as it does in humans, your pet’s stomach can’t properly digest grains and can lead to obesity, inflammation, allergies
Common Pantry Items – such as baking soda and powder, nutmeg and other spices can be toxic to dogs. Keep your pantry closed.
Now, with all those “no no’s”… here are some healthy options for your little companions that are real, whole foods and beneficial to their health.
Meat: All meats are okay to give your pet, as long as they are able to handle them. Just remember to cook the meat and to give them a variety.
*Note: some people are okay with a raw meat diet for pets, but they will get more nutrients from cooked meat and not risk the danger of illness.
Fruit: Be sure to wash all produce and remove pits/seeds.
Apples, Apricot, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Mango, Pear, Raspberries, Strawberries, Oranges, Bananas, Watermelon,
Veggies: Cooking/Steaming veggies will make them more easily digestible
Carrots, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Zucchini, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Lettuce, Spinach, Pumpkin, Cooked Sweet Potato
Not Paleo, But Gluten Free: Rice is a cheap, easy way to get your pet some real food. It’s not paleo, but it is gluten free and as long as it’s cooked properly and your pet reacts positively to it, can be added to it’s food.
Soooo… with all of those “yes” and “no” foods listed above, you can come up with a diet of real foods for your pet. If you eat paleo, these foods that are okay for your pet are commonly found in your house already so no additional shopping needed, just maybe a bit more. When you cook for yourself, add in a little extra for your pet. Be careful with seasoning though… maybe give your pet their dish before you season yours. Make sure to avoid the “No, No’s” and give your pet a variety. Just like with humans, if our pets eat the same thing day in and day out they can become deficient in some nutrients and overloaded with others.
Now, in a perfect world, we would have the time and money to make a nice grass fed hamburger patty, sweet potato and veggie dinner for our pets. In reality, I understand this isn’t possible. So, also included below, are a list of “paleo approved” dog foods. I’m not about to say that I cook a meal for my dogs everyday, because most times I don’t. I typically take a scoop of dry dog food out of the bag and dump it in their dish, where they promptly gobble it up as though they haven’t been fed in 6 months (if you have a lab you know what I’m talking about). They often get left overs from our meals for treats. Occasionally I will actually cook a meal for them. So, the next thing is what kind of packaged dog food is good for dogs. First advice, READ THE LABELS. Same as human food, if you can’t identify what’s in the ingredient list, don’t get it. Below is a link to some great grain free pet food.
Remember, your pets don’t know what they ‘re eating and if they are anything like my yellow labs, they don’t care. Pogo, our 2 year old lab, ate part of our vacuum…literally ingested the upholstery connection… I found it in the backyard for the next few days after she consumed it. She’s eaten an entire pack of gym (including the cardboard and wrappers), she’s eaten headphones, cables, chocolate bars, the bill of my hat, a 16oz raw steak, and more. We have to remember that what our dog eats is our fault. We are the ones that leave the food (or not food) available to our pets. Be responsible and make sure your house is pet-proofed and safe for your animal. Also, if you care for your pets as much as I care for mine, remember they deserve to fuel to be fit and healthy as well. If you don’t eat wheat, why are you letting your pets?
Last but not least, here is a blog called PaleoPet that goes into more detail of how to safely administer a paleo diet for your pet.