By Lisa Peterson
Many of us who have pets always seem to be opening the refrigerator or cupboard to share our food with them. Most of us do this to provide healthy choices for our dogs but some of us who keep horses on our property have handy hand-outs to promote health and well-being for horses too! An old friend from a writer’s group picked up on several of these equine and canine foods and featured them today on the FitBottomedGirls blog.
Beyond Hay for Horses
For horses there are severals things in the pantry that can be helpful. When selecting human food to feed your horse make sure it’s close to their natural diet as horses have a sensitive and complex digestive system. This means no chocolate breakfast bars or teriyaki chicken. The best choice, of course, is carrots! Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene and Vitamin A. They offer a nice treat to the horse for greetings and farewells. They are best served in long thin slices to safeguard from choking. Many prefer carrots picked fresh from the garden (or produce section) with their green tops intact for an added anti-oxidant boost.
One treat that is good only very occasionally are sugar cubes. Too much sugar is not good for any being, but once in a while a sweet little treat that usually hangs around the house for fancy parties in grandma’s silver sugar bowl is a horse’s delight. They can make great training treats for your horse as the ultimate reward.
Have a finicky drinker? Maybe you are worried your horse is getting dehydrated, especially in winter, when water can be ice cold and he’s not drinking it. Try adding a little warm apple juice to the water bucket. This sweet taste may entice your horse to slurp it down. Not drinking and getting dehydrated could put them at risk for colic, which could turn deadly.
And finally, an apple a day also keeps the horse doctor away! Sharing this crisp fruit with your equine friend will keep you apprised of how his teeth are doing. If your horse is looking a little thin, it may be because he is having trouble chewing. Feeding him apple slices are good nutritionally but will also show you whether food is falling out of his mouth, an indication of pain from long teeth or brought edges. Watching him eat apples or smaller pieces will give you a clue to his oral health and whether you need to call the horse dentist.
Daily Dose for Dogs
Many horse owners have dogs too! And raw carrots are the cross-species training treat found in most pet owners homes. This low calorie, crunchy treat is great for dog’s needing reduced calories but still provides that crunch for oral health to reduce tartar accumulation on dog’s teeth. Baby carrots cut in quarters are the perfect size for treating.
Keeping your dog fit and healthy can also include some readily available people foods, surprisingly found in cans. Got a fat dog? Reducing fido’s waistline needs more than upping the daily walk. Here’s a trick to easily reduce calories without decreasing the volume of what’s in the bowl. If you feed your dog a cup of kibble per meal, try reducing the kibble by half a cup and replace the other half cup with canned string beans. This lower calorie alternative is tasty and will ease the transition of reducing the amount at meal time. Only feed the replacement beans for two weeks and then resume the regular ration of kibble. Still need to loose more weight? Feed regular rations for another two weeks and then replace rations with half green beans again.
Another super human food for dogs is canned pumpkin or pureed pumpkin. This high in fiber food that makes its annual appearance at Thanksgiving, can be used in a pinch if your dog needs a binding meal after bouts of diarrhea. Adding a few teaspoons to a few tablespoons depending on the size of the dog, can also help with canine constipation. Providing pumpkin keeps Rover regular.
A ubiquitous food in most refrigerator’s is mozzarella string cheese. The low fat version can be a much healthier alternative for training treats that anything you can buy at the pet superstore, many of which are loaded with calories, artificial preservatives and colors. Plus, this tasty treat can be placed in your mouth during training exercises which will draw your dog’s attention to your face, Once she is gazing into your eyes, she may actually listen to what you are asking her to do!