A dog’s diet plays an important role in keeping your dog healthy and happy. It is your responsibility, as a responsible pet owner, to ensure it is eating nutritional food and the correct amount of food daily. Knowing how to select a good dog food, how much and when to feed, and how, through diet, we can control or prevent certain diseases will help our dog live a longer and healthier life.
Dogs have the same basic nutritional requirements as humans – needing the six essential elements for optimum health:
For proper growth – puppies require higher amounts of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals. An adult dog eating puppy food is likely to become obese. An older dog may need easily digestible senior food. Dogs are to be treated as individuals – not all dog foods suit all dogs. Depending on YOUR specific dogs needs, you should select what your dog eats accordingly.
CHOOSING A COMMERICAL DOG FOOD
PROTEIN V’ FAT
Pet shops and most grocery stores sell various brands of dog food. Grocery brands are usually cheaper but use ingredients with little to no nutritional value. Look at the different brands and start with a food that suits your dog’s age requirements. Read the label – what is the percentage of crude fat? This usually ranges from 6-14%. If your pet is at a healthy weight then start somewhere in the middle of that range to avoid weight gain or loss. If your dog is very active, then lean a little higher. For a dog that doesn’t get much exercise, go with a lower crude fat percentage. Dogs’ intestines are meant to digest mainly proteins. The higher the protein the better. But be careful – look at the fat content first because often higher amounts of protein will mean higher percentages of crude fat. High protein and low fat is the best to look for.
Fillers are ingredients used in some dog foods that have no nutritional value at all – added for bulk to save the manufacturer money. They make your dog full without actually being good for them. One example of a filler is fish digest. Other fillers include corn (corn meal, corn gluten meal) and meat by-products; meat that is considered not fit for human consumption – beaks, feet, spleens, lungs, kidneys, brains and stomachs. It is best that you select a food that contains no fillers.
DRY V’ WET FOOD
Many dry foods can be less expensive, per pound, than their canned (wet) or semi-moist counterparts, and do not spoil as quickly as an open can. In addition, dry food is more nutritionally dense than canned food because of the canned food’s high moisture content (anywhere from 60%-90%, depending on brand). This means that more canned food must be fed to meet the dog’s requirements, compared to dry.
Grain gluten and other protein gels may be used in wet dog food to create artificial meaty chunks, which look like real meat
HOME-MADE DOG FOOD
Making your own dog food can be a healthy alternative to feeding them store-bought food, and many owners find that homemade diets are great for dogs with food allergies or other health problems. However, these diets can be costly when the ingredients are not bought in bulk and should only be undertaken with a veterinarian’s supervision.
There are various pro’s & con’s when choosing to make your own dog food:
- It is a healthy alternative to bagged, store-bought dog food brands.
– You can create custom diets for dogs with food allergies or other specific health concerns.
– There are no preservatives or colourings.
– You can choose specific diets that meet your personal values such as vegetarian diets.
- It is time-consuming and does not work well for dog owners who have busy schedules.
– Homemade diets are more expensive than store-bought foods.
– You must be conscious of your dog’s dietary needs and monitor ingredients and portions carefully.
– It can be difficult to make sure your dog is getting proper nutrients.
– If you do not educate yourself on foods that are dangerous to dogs, you might accidentally put a hazardous ingredient in your homemade food.
Foods you should NOT feed your dog
Please see below for ingredients that could be harmful to your dog.
Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources – as they can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.
Grapes may poison the dog and lead to kidney failure. A dog may get poisoned by ingesting only 4 to 5 grapes. Raisins are as toxic as grapes.
ONIONS & GARLIC
Onions may cause the Heinz anemia in dogs. This type of anemia leads to a low red blood cell count and kidney failure. Garlic or chives are also toxic for dogs. Onions and garlic are the most poisonous when raw, but you should avoid feeding your dog even cooked or fried onion or garlic.
Chocolate is toxic for dogs, as it contains theobromide. Cocoa is also toxic for dogs.
Coffee contains the same toxic chemical as chocolate and cocoa. Make sure your dog also stays away from drinks that contain caffeine such as sodas or black tea.
Nuts, especially macadamia nuts are toxic for pets. Just a few nuts may poison your dog; however just a few nuts are not fatal to dogs.
FRUIT SEEDS & PITS
Some fruit seeds and pits may contain cyanide: apple, peach, apricots, plum, cherry
Symptoms of Poisoning
If a dog ingests a poisonous substance he will display the following symptoms:
– Loss of appetite
– Abdominal pain