Nourishing Your Animals: A Guide to Healthy Food Choices

We cherish the animals we care for, whether that means we give them scraps, talk to them like an old friend, hug them extra tight, and so much more. However, not all human-grade items are good for your animal’s health. When it comes to giving scraps and sharing meals, not all foods are suitable for your furry companions, which is why your understanding of what human foods are acceptable and unacceptable is crucial for their health and wellbeing. Often, foods not suited for animal consumption can lead to digestive issues, nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, disease, and even life-threatening conditions. For now, let’s explore the food options for dogs, cats, horses, and cows so that you can provide them with the food and nutrients that they need.

If you need any advice or medical intervention, give Cloud Peak Vet a call ASAP! With years of experience and a myriad of different species for patients, our team has the expertise you need to make well-informed decisions to keep your furry loved ones happy and healthy. Don’t hesitate to reach out today!


Domesticated dogs should primarily eat a balanced and nutritionally complete diet to maintain their health and well-being. The ideal diet for a dog can depend on their age, size, activity level, and any specific health considerations, so it’s best to consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new foods.


Lean Meat: While dogs are omnivores, their systems thrive on animal-based products, especially meats. Those systems perform optimally when the meat has a minimal amount of fat, so look for lean meats. Often, chicken, turkey, beef, and salmon are the protein of choice due to their low fat content and high nutritional value.

Vegetables: Dogs can eat most vegetables, meaning that your pup’s vegetable consumption is dependent on their tastes and preferences. Often, canines like carrots, peas, broccoli, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that if you are going to serve your furry companion something with spicy seeds, like bell peppers, you should remove all the seeds before giving it to your pup.

Fruits: Not all fruit is suitable for canine consumption, but fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and blueberries can provide much needed vitamins and fiber. Although it has many nutritional benefits, fruit needs to be served to canines in moderation.

Carbohydrates: While it may be a general term, carbohydrates are a wonderful additive to your pet’s diet as their blandness ensures no upset tummies and carb consumption. Carbohydrates are the energy source for your pup and are responsible for providing long-lasting energy, making them an essential part of your pet’s diet. Commonly, rice, oats, corn, and wheat are the carb of choice for dogs everywhere.


Chocolate: Due to its caffeine and theobromine content in chocolate, any variation of the delicious treat is toxic and can be fatal for a dog. Canines have a different metabolism than us, and as such, they digest these two toxic ingredients much slower than humans do, exposing the animal’s system for a prolonged period of time. Both caffeine and theobromine are stimulants and can negatively affect a dog’s central nervous, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems. Keep chocolate out of reach.

Grapes and Raisins: Under no circumstances should your pup consume grapes or raisins. While the exact science is unknown, canines cannot properly digest the compounds that are toxic to them, which often causes kidney failure. However, dogs vary greatly from one another when it comes to their reaction to grapes, meaning the amount of grapes that are toxic to dogs is entirely dependent on the pup. Because of this unpredictability, do not feed your furry friend any grapes or grape products.

Xylitol: This chemical is often used as a sugar substitute and can be easily found in sugar-free gums, candies, baked goods, and drinks. When consumed by a canine, xylitol will drastically drop the animal’s blood sugar, causing hypoglycemia and liver damage. As with grapes, the amount of xylitol that is toxic to dogs is entirely dependent on the animal’s system, so keep this chemical out of reach.

Nourishing Your Animals

Veterinarian-Approved Feline Nutrition


Domesticated cats require a balanced diet to maintain their health and well-being. Their dietary needs are quite specific, and it’s important to provide them with a diet that meets their nutritional requirements. While it may seem easier to feed your cat and pup the same bowl of kibble, cats have many different nutritional requirements that necessitate proper education and execution.


High-Quality Cat Food: Especially compared to canines, cats actually need more protein percentage in their diet. The composition of their diet typically involves a high amount of protein, a moderate amount of fat, and a low amount of carbs. Commercial cat food is formulated to meet these nutritional needs that are feline-specific.

Lean Protein: As mentioned, cats derive a majority of their energy from products rich in animal protein. Because cats do not need much fat, opt for lean protein options, like chicken, egg whites, lamb, and fish.

Vegetables: Often, cats will turn up their nose when offered a vegetable, so often vegetable consumption is completely up to preference and not necessary. Some cats may enjoy small amounts of cooked vegetables like peas, asparagus, steamed broccoli, cucumber, or carrots.


Chocolate and Caffeine: Just like dogs, cats cannot properly consume the caffeine and theobromine that’s found in chocolate. The chemicals can negatively affect the feline’s bodily systems, causing a variety of long-term problems. Their muscles, brain, and body will begin to give out, causing problems within the nervous, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems. Also, chocolate typically contains dairy, which is also toxic to cats.

Onions and Garlic: While they may seem harmless, garlic and onions contain compounds that will attack the kitty’s red blood cells. When ingested, these compounds oxidize the blood cells, causing major issues, especially hemolytic anemia. When oxidized, the red blood cells are destroyed, limiting the amount of oxygen being transported around your feline’s system. All forms of garlic and onions should be avoided.

Dairy: Contrary to popular belief, many cats are actually lactose intolerant and cannot properly digest the lactose in dairy. As kittens, felines produce the enzyme that processes lactose, but that ability can fade with maturity, similar to humans. When a lactose-intolerant kitty consumes dairy, they can experience serious stomach upset and gastrointestinal pain.


A horse’s diet should consist of a balance of forage, such as hay or pasture, and possibly concentrated feeds, depending on their age, activity level, and individual needs. If you are looking to show or compete with your horse, it’s important to reach out to a vet for a personalized nutrition plan.


Hay and Grass: As natural herbivores, horses should consume a diet that consists of high-quality hay or fresh grazing grass. With its high fiber content, hay and grass provide your equine friend with much-needed nutrients that improve gut health. Grazing is a very natural skill for horses, so providing them with an opportunity to graze healthy grass improves their mental health. Not to mention, the abrasive nature of grinding their teeth prevents tooth overgrowth and subsequent discomfort.

Grains: When fed in moderation, grains like oats and barley can be fed to provide additional energy. Oats are the most popular grain to feed horses as its high-fiber content contains more bulk per nutrient and can allow horses to healthily gain weight. Avoid overfeeding grains, as it can lead to digestive issues.

Fruits: Horses often enjoy a myriad of fruit treats, including apples, carrots, blueberries, and bananas. When feeding, make sure you moderate the amount of fruit they eat as overconsumption can lead to high blood sugar and gut problems. A diverse selection of fruit for your equine buddy ensures they eat enough minerals and nutrients.

Nourishing Your Animals

Veterinary Clinic with Animal Nutrition Experience


Dairy Products: A horse’s digestive system cannot properly break down the lactose proteins, taking products like cheese, milk, and yogurt off the menu. A horse’s system has no nutritional need for any dairy product, and as a consequence, your equine buddy can experience severe gastrointestinal pain and digestive discomfort.

High-Sugar Treats: Equine digestive systems are not well-equipped to process foods high in sugar and starches. Foods with extra sugar can upset the microbial balance in the horse’s hindgut. This upset can lead to colic, laminitis, dental pain, obesity, and behavioral issues. If you’re looking for an easy treat, check out the previous section.

Moldy Feed: When hay or grain becomes moldy, the mold growth will release toxic compounds known as mycotoxins. These toxins can reduce the nutritional value of the feed and cause severe health problems like digestive discomfort, respiratory disease, and laminitis. Ensure your feed is properly stored and consistently monitored to prevent mold-borne illnesses.


Before you determine what feeds to offer your herd, you need to consider the purpose of your cattle and your ultimate goal. If you are looking to simply raise cattle, then the dietary needs are less stringent and based more on preference. However, if your cows are raised for meat or dairy production, consulting with a professional vet will ensure their needs are met. Proper cattle nutrition is essential for their growth, production, and overall well-being.


Forage: A well-maintained pasture and good quality hay are the perfect fuel source for a large animal, like a bull. While rotational pastures are ideal, feed is an excellent supplemental source of nutrition and can safely feed your herd through the seasons. Ensuring that you have a reliable source of forage will improve your cows’ physiological function.

Salt: A bovine’s system requires a surprising amount of sodium chloride, or salt. Sodium is an essential electrolyte that aids the body in regulating fluid levels and pressure. The salt encourages water to stay in the cow’s system longer, preventing dehydration. Not to mention, salt is a crucial element in communicating nerve impulses and function, meaning your bovine buddy needs the appropriate amount of salt for good health and production.

Concentrates: To provide additional energy outside forage, cattle may receive grains like corn, barley, oats, or wheat. Cattle in feedlots often have a higher energy demand, meaning that these carbs will keep your cattle feeling full for longer. Talk to your trusted vet for specific recommendations and a personalized nutrition plan.


Animal Byproducts: Cows are exclusively herbivores, and introduction of animal byproducts into their diet can have very serious negative health concerns. By consuming improperly processed animal products, cattle can contract mad cow disease. Avoid feeding your cow friends any form of meat or animal products.

Avocado: Avocado leaves, seeds, and fruit contain a toxin called persin, which can be harmful to cattle and may lead to respiratory distress, heart issues, and death. Avoid feeding your cattle crew any form of avocado.

Processed Foods: Any sort of processed human food has next to no nutritional value for cows and should be avoided. These foods often have high amounts of sugar, fat, and salt, all of which are not suitable for healthy cattle. Feeding your cows junk food can lead to obesity, heart problems, and metabolic disorders.

Professional Expertise

We hold a special place in our hearts for the animals we care for, whether it’s through sharing our meals, engaging in heartwarming conversations, giving them comforting hugs, or countless other expressions of love. However, it’s important to recognize that not all human-grade items are suitable for the well-being of our animal companions. When it comes to sharing our food and scraps, we must be mindful of the fact that not all edibles are safe for our furry friends. Therefore, understanding which human foods are appropriate and which are not is essential for their health and happiness.

Feeding unsuitable items to our pets can often result in digestive problems, nutritional imbalances, diseases, and even life-threatening conditions. To ensure the best for your dogs, cats, horses, and cows, it’s crucial to explore the right food options and provide them with the nutrients they require.

If you ever require veterinary advice or medical assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cloud Peak Vet. With years of experience and a diverse range of animal patients, our team possesses the expertise needed to help you make well-informed decisions to keep your beloved furry companions in top-notch health. Contact us today at (307) 347-2781, so your companion feels better tomorrow!



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