Potassium is a macro mineral required by canines for efficient functioning of muscles, nerves and enzymes. Because many commercial manufacturers use a synthetic version called potassium chloride, many dog owners opt for natural sources of potassium to meet their canine's requirements of 6 percent of dry food weight per day.
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Potatoes, carrots, beans and peas -- whether cooked or raw -- are excellent sources of potassium. Many commercial dog food manufacturers use these vegetables in their recipes, but the extensive processing at the factory removes much of the nutrient content. Squash is a dual purpose choice in that it also supports kidney function and reduces the risk for heart failure in canines. Some dogs will eat parsley but it poses a risk for copper toxicosis and its intake should be monitored.
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According to the Chiquita company specializing in the production of bananas since the 1970s, the average banana contains 422 mg of potassium, or slightly less than a half gram. Just one banana satisfies 13 percent of a human's daily requirement and goes a long way toward meeting the needs of a canine. That doesn't mean you should feed your dog a whole banana. Rather, it's better for him and for your bonding if you share a banana by cutting off pieces to feed to your pooch when you eat a banana. This is because bananas are high in fructose, a fruit sugar. The canine digestive system does not process sugar quickly, and too much fructose could lead to internal fermentation and a tummy ache. With that warning in mind, feel free to share some bits of banana with your canine companion. Most dogs enjoy the sweet flavor of bananas the way humans enjoy ice cream. Just keep consumption comparable to any other treat.
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Melons and apples are other popular natural choices to increase a dog's potassium levels. Several popular dog treats use apple flavoring. The trick with giving a dog apple is to be sure that he does not eat the core where the seeds are because these contain arsenic. As with bananas, it is best to cut up pieces of apple and feed them to the dog.
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Like any other treat, it isn't a good idea to let your dog eat too much popcorn. Yet if getting just a bit extra potassium in your pooch's system is your goal, then sharing a few kernels during a movie is a great way to accomplish it. One cup of air-popped corn contains 26 mg of potassium. Keep it healthier for yourself and your canine companion by skipping the butter. You can't meet all of your pup's potassium needs this way, but it is a fun way to bond.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.