Dogs are prone to playing favorites: favorite toy, favorite nap spot, favorite treat, and even favorite person. But when it comes to mealtime, do our dogs get tired of eating the same thing every day? When paired with the solid foundation of a well-rounded food like Ollie's Fresh or Baked meals, a little added variety can benefit many pups' physical and mental well-being. Introducing your dog to new foods can provide them with a wide range of nutrients, flavors, and textures.
A survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ollie found that more than half (55%) of pet owners currently treat their dog(s) to human foods. These high-prized treats include things like eggs (38%), cheese (37%), and chicken (34%).
"Dogs can enjoy a wide variety of foods that humans love too, such as vegetables and fruits, lean proteins like eggs, poultry, and fish, and even some treats like popcorn, peanut butter, and cheese are OK in small, reasonable amounts," says Bridget Meadows, Head of Food at Ollie. "For both meats and veggies, gentle cooking methods with minimal oil, butter, or seasonings make the foods easiest to digest — any processing or preparation that is high in fat, salt, or sugars should be avoided."
People food for dogs
Most survey respondents said their dogs' food is similar to their own (62%), so much so that 45% of those who prepare meals for their dogs cook the food along with their own meals. This can be a great way to save time when preparing meals, and eating with your dog can be a great bonding activity.
Most of the dog parents recognize that they shouldn't feed their pets exactly how they feed themselves because a dog's digestive system is different from a human's. Some foods people eat regularly make dogs sick, and dogs have different nutritional needs and limits, so it's important not to portion with caution.
"Owners should always avoid foods that can impact a dog's physiology, such as onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, alcohol, and xylitol (a common sweetener that is found in diet peanut butter and yogurt as well as many other foods). Additionally, avoid anything that could contain hard pieces that can damage their teeth or internal organs - sharp bones or bone fragments, fruit that contains pits or stones, and nuts can all cause problems if ingested," Meadows advises.
According to the survey, when it comes to "spicing up" their dog's food, pup parents said they like to mix different flavors (70%) or add fresh ingredients (62%), and 64% said they go out of their way to create balanced meals for their pups.
We also learned that a third of respondents feel like they don't feed their dog enough veggies, recalling that, on average, they only give their dog one meal a day that includes vegetables.
"Adding vegetables to a dog's diet can be a great source of vitamins and fiber and help provide low-calorie snacks that help food-motivated or overweight dogs stay full and satisfied in healthy ways," Meadows explains, "But don't start anything new without speaking to your vet first - dog's digestive systems can be sensitive."
So, if you want to mix things up safely, consider adding gently cooked foods like steamed or roasted carrots, broccoli, or green beans, or raw foods like fresh berries, cucumber, and watermelon. These delicious veggies and fruit provide flavor, fiber, new tastes, and textures.
What do dog parents want to feed their dog more?
Survey says these are the top 10 ingredients pet parents want to add to their dog's meals. And judging by this list, many are on the right track!
- Cheese - 41%
- Eggs - 39%
- Blueberries - 36%
- Carrots - 36%
- Bacon - 34%
- Chicken - 32%
- Apples - 29%
- Peanut butter - 28%
- Seafood - 21%
- Turkey - 16%
At Ollie, we agree with a majority of the ingredients listed, so much so that many of them are blended into our delicious recipes. We're already cooking with blueberries, carrots, chicken, and turkey in our fresh recipes. We use chicken and carrots in our new baked recipes as well.
Ollie’s tips for mixing food
Are you also interested in adding variety to your pup's meals? Here are some of our best tips to get you started.
Go slowly. Start with a small taste when introducing anything new into your dog's diet. A dog's digestive system can be sensitive, and too much of a good thing can be overwhelming and cause an upset stomach. You also want to ensure your dog isn't allergic or intolerant to any foods being introduced.
Balance higher fat and calorie treats with fruit and vegetables. Want to let your pup try peanut butter, bacon, or cheese? Use these in extreme moderation and mix them with other fun and lower-calorie treats. Try spreading a thin layer of peanut butter on an apple slice or mixing bacon with plain grilled chicken. Sprinkle cheese over some steamed or roasted broccoli for an instant flavor boost.
Take note of your dog's preferences. Just like we gravitate towards certain foods, your dog may do the same. As they try new things, keep track of what they like and don't like to keep your pup and wallet happy!
How do you add variety to your pup's diet? Show us your favorite ingredient combinations and how you incorporate new foods into their meals. Take a picture of your creation and share it with us by tagging @Ollie on Instagram.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out Ollie.com.