Your pet deserves the best, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to spend more money on their food than on your own. And although there are plenty of gourmet options available that promise a shinier coat, alleviation of allergies, and better overall health (and longevity), you just can’t see breaking the bank to feed Mitzy gourmet. And yet, you are concerned about giving her the best chance for a long, healthy, happy life. So why not take matters into your own hands? With these five simple ingredients, you can give your pet the gourmet diet she deserves while saving a little money on the overhead.
- Organic meats. You don’t necessarily have to go for lamb and beef. Most animals do just as well with the lean protein found in cheaper options like chicken and fish. And if you buy organic, you know it’s free of hormones and antibiotics (which many claim are the cause of fatty tumors that have become prevalent in pets in recent years). Also, make sure you select whole chickens, or purchase the organs, since they are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Of course you’ll want to cook any meat, but cut it into chunks so that your pet has something to chew on (for healthier teeth and gums). You can also swap in eggs once in awhile.
- Brown rice. Since it retains significantly more nutrients than white rice, it is an excellent source of manganese (which helps produce energy, synthesize fatty acids, produce cholesterol, and protect against free radicals), fiber (self-explanatory), selenium (which helps to regulate metabolism, antioxidant defenses, and immunity), and magnesium (which is essential to metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates).
- Whole grains. Phytonutrients, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, lipids, and sterols found only in whole grains provide nutrients that are vital to the regular function of cells and glands. So mix it up; replace the rice with other grains like wheat, soy, and barley once in awhile. And don’t forget about quinoa, which contains complete proteins like those found in animal products.
- Fruits and vegetables. There are certain items that are not suitable for animals, and you probably know what they are either from word of mouth or because your animals won’t go near them (including, but not limited to, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocado, and nuts). You will, of course, want to avoid any produce that can make your animal ill. Beyond that, you will certainly want to incorporate items like broccoli, peas, carrots, cabbage, and even pumpkin and yams into your animal’s food as a good source of vitamins (just be aware that some may cause upset tummy for Toto, so keep an eye on his stool for awhile). You can also add such treats as bananas and apples, which most pets love.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements. It’s not easy to ensure that your pet is getting all the vitamins and minerals they need (which are generally included in dry kibble). So to ensure that they’re not missing out, include a cat- or dog-centric supplement to their daily meals.
Jamie Palovoy is a content writer for Gourmet Food where you don’t have to be rich to enjoy a gourmet meal.