I’m a Nutrition Expert, Here’s How I Approach Healthy Eating for Both Me and My Dog

You've heard that finding the right balance of healthy eating involves a whole lot of listening to your body, since a one-diet-fits-all approach (unfortunately) doesn't exist. But what about finding that same balance for your pooch, who can't exactly pipe up with input on their food preferences?

Instead of asking your dog to bark once for chicken and twice for beef (would not recommend this less-than-scientific experiment), Cassy Joy Garcia, founder and editor in chief at Fed and Fit, suggests approaching your dog's diet the same way you would your own.

"My eating style is focused on nutrient-dense foods that help me feel my best," Garcia says. "Just like you would hopefully research where your own food comes from or what it does to your body, I think we should also do that with our pet’s food."

“Just like you would hopefully research where your own food comes from or what it does to your body, I think we should also do that with our pet’s food."

For herself, Garcia prefers not to write off too many foods as "off limits," but generally avoids gluten, unnecessary added sugars, and processed foods. For her two Great Pyrenees pups, Gus and Ben, she takes a similar approach, feeding them a gluten-free and minimally processed diet.

"Similar to my philosophy on eating for humans, I believe that not one particular diet works for every dog either," Garcia says. "You have to work with your vet to decide what is the healthiest route for your furry family member."

One dog food option that meets the minimally processed requirement are Instinct®️ raw frozen recipes, which use real ingredients that are never cooked (so the nutrients remain intact) and are frozen for freshness, so no artificial preservatives are needed.

Before you hit up your vet to ask about your options of what to feed your dog for the healthiest-possible diet, keep reading for more of Garcia's tips on what to look for in a dog food.

Wondering what to feed your dog? Keep reading to learn more about what Garcia puts in her dogs' bowls.

what to feed your dog

1. Look for fewer preservatives

Like her own diet, Garcia tries not to serve her pups meals that contain unnecessary preservatives. "I want to feed my dogs food that is as natural and as unprocessed as possible," she says, which means being diligent about checking labels.

"Particular foods I personally try to avoid include ones that don’t disclose all of their ingredients, foods with preservatives that I wouldn’t choose for myself, and foods with food colorings," Garcia says. "I try to avoid these foods in my own diet, so it only makes sense to keep them out of our boys’ bowls as well."

The reason she steers clear of these foods (for herself and her pups) is to avoid potentially inflammation-inducing agents, like preservatives and colorants. "Naturally derived preservatives (think: lemon juice/citric acid) and colorings (think: turmeric) are wonderful," she says. "Making sure that inflammation is reduced as much as possible for our pups, we make that decision as we’re sourcing food and treats for the boys."

2. Go for grain-free

For herself, Garcia follows a a gluten-free diet. And while she doesn't think all humans need to follow suit, she's found that Gus and Ben do best eating grain-free food as well (like dog mother, like sons).

Instead of grains and wheat, Instinct®️ raw frozen recipes contain vitamins and non-GMO fruits and vegetables (but no corn) to pack in plenty of nutrients—so that each ingredient has a nutritional purpose.

3. Choose grass-fed

Garcia also makes a point to prepare offal meats (aka organ meats) for her family once a week, and will occasionally share bites of those with her pups.

"These types of meats are extremely nutrient-dense and are just as beneficial for dogs as they are humans," Garcia says. "When it comes to choosing the type of offal meats, we just try to stick with grass-fed as much as possible [because] grass-fed is going to have the most nutrients overall."

Another way to get those nutrient-dense benefits for your pet (if offal meats aren't your jam) is with Instinct®️ raw frozen recipes, which are made using 85 to 95 percent meat and organs from sources like cage-free chicken and grass-fed lamb.

Even though your dog can't use words to tell you whether they're digging their diet, making sure their bowl is filled up with wholesome, natural ingredients can help them feel as healthy as you do when you eat a particularly nutritious meal. Just ask them to bark once if they agree.

Sponsored by Instinct® Pet Food

Top photo: Getty Images/AleksandarNakic

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