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Super "people" foods for pets: People foods fit for your pet

Tuesday December 22nd, 2009

By Ernest Ward

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Vitamin-rich carrots provide your dog with anitoxidants and help his heart, eyesight, and blood sugar levels (plus, you can freeze them in ice cubes for a cool treat).

Let's face it; most people give their pets food from the table. Contrary to what you may have heard, feeding people foods to pets isn't always a bad thing, especially if you're giving healthy options. In fact, you may be surprised at what you can safely— and nutritiously— feed your pet from the table.

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1) Sweet Potatoes: One of nature's nearly perfect foods, sweet potatoes are so healthy they should be fed to your dog daily! Health benefits include 1) source of potent antioxidant to aid in healing, cancer prevention, and fighting the effects of aging; 2) Vitamins A, C and B6; 3) contains the mineralsmanganese, copper, and iron; and 4) source of dietary fiber to help with loose stools. May be fed whole after baking (microwave works great and saves time!) or in the form of "wonder chips" - thinly sliced and baked in Enova, canola, or other low-fat cooking oil. Cheaper and healthier than store-bought treats.

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2) Fish: Oily fishes such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent skin problems and allergies, treat arthritis and heart disease, and have been shown to improve behavior and intelligence. These fishes are tasty enough for the finickiest feline or choosiest canine. You can add fish to your pet's regular food in the form of freshly prepared, canned, or pouches. Cats and dogs do exceptionally well on a diet consisting of fish proteins. Let your pet take a taste on the wild side.

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3) Carrots: One of the greatest treats for dogs also happens to be loaded with powerful phytonutrients. Packed with Vitamins A, K and C, carrots pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Additionally, carrots help a dog's vision, heart, and blood sugar levels. Raw baby carrots are one of my favorite treats for dogs. In the summer, you can slice carrots and freeze them in ice cubes for an "ice surprise." Cooked carrots can be added to your dog's regular food or used as part of a healthy home-prepared meal.

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4) Broccoli: Leave it to the Italians to cultivate one of the world's true tasty super foods. Broccoli has been shown to have anti-cancer effects, aid in fighting infections, treat skin and heart problems and help metabolize drugs and excrete toxins. Broccoli is so helpful every dog should eat it daily. Broccoli can be fed to dogs both raw and cooked. A raw floret is a healthy treat that costs pennies yet provides incalculable benefits. I recommend combining steamed or cooked broccoli with other super foods and fish for a health infusion whenever a pet is feeling ill.

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5) Kale: It's hard to beat kale in terms of maximum nutrition for minimal calories. Kale is a proven cancer-risk cutter, abundant source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, E and C, helps prevent heart disease and contains numerous antioxidants. Most dogs enjoy kale thinly chopped and sautéed or cooked. Don't overlook this healthy outlier. Avoid in pets with certain types of bladder stones or kidney disease.

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6) Beans: Black beans, soybeans, and garbanzo beans are all super foods for dogs. Beans help provide natural fibers that help regulate blood sugar levels, one of the leading causes of insulin-resistance and diabetes in dogs. In addition, these rich sources of proteins and minerals boost your pet's immune system and help burn fat.

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7) Quinoa: Once known as "the gold of the Incas," this ancient grain is being rediscovered today due to its amazing healing properties. One of the few vegetables sources of complete proteins, quinoa is also associated with preventing heart disease and cancer, as a potent antioxidant and reducing the risk of diabetes. Quinoa is easy to fix; all it needs is to be boiled for about 15 minutes. I use quinoa in a variety of recipes for dogs, combining it with fish and meat plus two to three vegetables in quick and easy home-prepared meals.

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8) Kelp: Most Americans don't think of feeding their dog kelp, despite its use for hundreds of years in Asia. Kelp became popular in England in the 1820s when Scottish Highlanders began kelping, yet failed to make it in the U.S. until this century. Kelp is truly a miracle plant because of its many therapeutic properties. It should be an essential ingredient in home-cooked diets because it is an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, iodine, selenium and iron. Kelp helps strengthen the immune system, reduce arthritis pain, control appetite and aid in weight loss and fight infections. Kelp (not California kelp) is often found in a powdered form that can be sprinkled over a dog's normal food or added to a home-prepared meal.

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