I got this question via Patti Best from Everything & the Dog in Leesburg Virginia, which put on my wonderful seminar there on nutrition. One of her clients asked: “The girls have green beans in the meals that I give them to help them keep their stylish figures. I am out of beans. Are peas just as good for them? Should I buy green beans instead or can I use them interchangeably?”
So dear Patti came up with this answer: I would think that peas are not a good choice as peas are full of sugar, to the best of my knowledge. But I can be wrong. Raw carrot sticks, any raw vegetable, tomatoes, cooked carrot sticks, whole fruits: strawberries, plums, cubed apples, papaya or banana. Mini rice cakes, low fat and filling — avoid salted or flavored, air popped popcorn or popped with any vegetable oil, but no butter or salt and not microwave kind. There is a section in Tracie’s THE DOG BIBLE on Ways to Feed without Fattening. She mentions, the Pumpkin Diet. This is a system that some nutritionists swear by, Reduce your dog’s normal food by a third and replace it with an equal amount of canned pumpkin — not for pie (should be minus sweeteners and spice) Dogs seem to love pumpkin which has the texture of canned dog food and provides vitamins and roughage with less calories. It also makes most dogs feel more full so they don’t beg and scavenge as much. I’m copying this to Tracie and perhaps she can help, but until you hear from her, I would stick with the known (green beans).
So here was my reply:
Dear Virginia ladies — I have just published a big section on my website on FAQ about feeding your dog. I suggest you go there to fill in your understanding of nutrition. I don’t know your dog’s breed, age or activity level but usually dogs are overweight from being on kibble alone. All the vegetables in the world aren’t going to satisfy nor slim him down — PROTEIN is! For weight loss feed a high protein/ low carbohydrate diet (tiny bit of kibble if any at all) and you will see a slim, satisfied pooch. Patti is right that raw vegetables and fruits are wonderful but at the end of the day, if you can switch over to a better proportion of protein to carb, that’s what you need to do.
And peas are a fine food. Pea starch and pea fiber are now used in many pet foods to get away from corn and wheat. Peas are not high on the gylcemic index (natural sugar) whereas corn and white potatoes are. Cooked sweet potato or yam are better for the dog and more nutritious than the pumpkin, which is usually sold sweetened and is costly, it turns out. As for popcorn & rice cakes, I think Patti is talking about her own diet! Rice cakes are basically nutritionless Styrofoam and I don’t even know dogs who will eat them! Popcorn is okay in moderation but it’s better to avoid snacking entirely — give 2 good meals and you’ll see a lot less begging