Many people think it’s great to add fresh fruit and vegetables to their dog’s diet. They think that fresh foods will give their dog something that a processed food won’t. Some people even think that fresh foods are the only way to add “life force” to the diet.
While we won’t debate the issue of life force, adding foods to an already complete and balanced diet can cause some problems. Any additions to an already complete and balanced diet are likely to throw the finely-tuned balance of nutrients way off. For example, if you give your dog cottage cheese, milk or ice cream, the additional calcium could create a zinc deficiency and you will probably see flaking skin, and, possibly, other problems, too.
Fresh fruits and vegetables contain plenty of water. Cooked vegetables contain even more water. Believe it or not, adding extra water to the diet dilutes the nutrients your dog is getting from his food.
Since fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates, you’re diluting the prepared diet with those, too. Because you have added calories to the diet, you are diluting the amount of protein your dog is getting, as your dog will want to eat less of his dog food.
The additions you make to the food may also result in the undersupplying of different vitamins. While there is a margin of error included in the formulation of the dog food, how close to the wire are you getting?
What about adding rice? Rice is just water and starch – carbohydrate. Now you’re diluting the dog food with water and carbohydrates. The more you add, the more you dilute, and the less the dog gets of the balanced diet.
How about celery? Although it’s one of my favorite snacks, celery is worthless to the dog. It contains plenty of water, and is mostly fiber. The fiber takes up space in the stomach, so your dog will eat less of the food (and therefore the nutrients) he needs.
Some people like to cook beans for their dog. Well, as you may imagine, beans can cause gas in dogs. It’s not a balanced addition, and will dilute the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in the rest of the diet.
Are fresher foods more natural and better for your dog? There’s some debate about this, but no hard evidence. Commercially-made dog foods are the result of years of nutritional research, all with the goal of providing your dog with all of the nutrients he needs to live a long, healthy life. Various analyses show that the commercial food your dog eats will provide all of those nutrients. Most manufacturers also perform standard feeding tests to make sure that their food works well in real dogs, not just in the laboratory.
Dog food manufacturers have worked hard to balance the diet using many of the same ingredients you’d add to the diet. There’s really no need to add anything else.