People are passionate for dog food and everyone wants to make sure that they are feeding what’s best for their pet. Below are the answers to the most common questions asked about dog food.
What do I feed my dog?
We know that not all dogs are the same, so why would we expect one dog food to be the best for all of them? For example, long haired dogs have a higher essential fatty acid requirement than short haired dogs do. That means if the long haired dog doesn’t get what he needs, he’s going to end up with a dumpy coat, living in a van down by the river.
If black dogs don’t get what they need, they will actually lose their blackness. Seriously! There’s an amino acid called phenylalanine, and it’s used to make the black skin pigment melanin. If they don’t get enough melanin from their diet, they can’t keep up their black coat. Have you ever seen those black dogs that turn auburn after a while? They’re not getting enough phenylalanine from their diet. And energy requirements vary widely between individuals. You know that skinny dude who eats everything that he wants and never gains a pound, while you eat salads and the scale still creeps up? Yeah. That happens in the dog world, too. That’s why we’ve got to find food with a calorie content that works for your specific dog. The point is, dog food is NOT one size fits all. Fiber has lots of digestive benefits, and many large breed dogs have higher fiber requirements than small breed dogs. If they don’t get it, the can end up with chronic colitis, and diarrhea that just keeps coming back.
How much should I feed my dog?
Just like humans a balanced and nutritious diet is an important part in keeping your dog active and healthy. Excessive weight can endanger a dog’s heart, lungs and joints and keep him from looking and feeling his best. Knowing the correct serving size to give your dog is the key. Daily caloric intake differs depending on what life stage your dog is in – from puppyhood to senior years.
Puppies require more calories and essential nutrients so they may eat three to four times per day. If your dog is under seven months of age you should give him food specially formulated for puppies. If you have a larger breed dog he may need to be fed puppy food until he is at least a year old. Adult dogs should be fed according to their size and energy needs. They generally eat one to two meals per day. Older dogs may require special diets as they are usually less active.
Choose a good quality food found in your pet store or your vet’s office and use measuring cups to avoid over-serving. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you are considering changing your dog’s diets or have questions about his nutrition.
When it comes to snacking or using training treats, too many treats will lead your pup to gain weight. To keep your dog trim, you may want to try healthier snack options. Low-calorie treats can include vegetables such as carrots and string beans or fruits such as bananas and apples. Be sure to include treats into your dog’s daily allotted calories.
Should I feed my dog on a schedule?
Free feeding is not recommended for the simple reason that it becomes very difficult to gauge how much your dog ate and when he ate. Also when your dog is sick, the first sign you will notice is that he stops eating. So if we are free feeding it’s very difficult to know if something is wrong with your dog.
Now if your dog is on a daily schedule, like breakfast at 7 in the morning and dinner at 7 in the evening and it goes on for some time. One day when we go to give our dog breakfast and he doesn’t touch it, we know that there may be some medical condition and it’s time to go to the vet. On the other hand when you are just leaving a bowl of food out and you are not paying close attention to how much he is really eating, it’s difficult to know if he is doing well.
What foods should I avoid giving my dog?
There are some human foods that can cause some serious health problems for your dog. The FDA has released information on people foods that can make dogs sick. Here are a few you might not know about.
- Onions, Garlic & Chives – may cause poisoning in small quantities.
- Walnuts & Macadamia Nuts – toxic to dogs.
- Grapes, raisins & currants – can cause renal failure.
- Human Chocolate – dark chocolates are more toxic than white.
- Avocados – can be toxic to dogs.
- Coffee – moderate amounts can be toxic to small dogs.
- Chewing Gum especially sugar free – Xylitol could be lethal to dogs.
- Alcohol – even small amounts can be toxic.
- Some mushrooms can cause poisoning.
- High fat foods E.g. Bacon, excessive cheese and French fries – could cause digestive problems and canine pancreatitis.
- Potato peelings and green potatoes
- Tomato leaves and stems
- Apple seeds (fruit flesh is harmless) – seeds contain a form of cyanide.
- Unbaked bread dough – can cause digestive problems.
- Candies – excess may cause obesity and dental problems. Candies with artificial sweeteners often contain Xylitol and should be avoided.
- Peach, Plum and Apricot pits (fruit flesh is harmless) – pits may contain a form of cyanide.
- Marijuana edibles – can be toxic.
- Dairy and ice creams – some dogs may have lactose intolerance.
- Raw eggs – may cause bacterial poisoning.
- Raw meat – danger of bacteria poisoning.
- Human medicine – may cause poisoning.
- Some herbs and spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, pennyroyal oil.
- Bones – may get lodged in the throat or intestines.
What if my dog is diabetic?
Diabetes can affect both humans and pets. But that doesn’t mean that you or in this case your pet can’t live a great life. Food plays a crucial role in the treatment of feline or canine diabetes. The right food allows your pet’s body to keep the blood sugar levels stable. High fiber varieties that are low in sugar and have a low glycemic index (GI) are the perfect solution to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Dogs that eat very low quality diets, lots of filler and high carb diets are generally more difficult to regulate. It’s a good idea to get a diabetic dog on a special diet and there are many companies that make a special diet that your veterinary can help you decide the best and appropriate one for your pet. These diets contain higher digestible fiber and low carbohydrates. In addition, it’s been shown that dogs that eat smaller meals several times a day generally do better. But a lot of times it’s easier to give insulin when you are only feeding them at the insulin time to make sure that they are eating before they get their insulin.
What is the difference between dry and wet dog food?
Most dog owners have been told or believe that dry dog food prevents dental problems in their dogs. Actually this isn’t true. You are free to choose between wet or dry food because it makes no difference with regards to dental health. Dry food is very economical. It’s also easy to use and it is easy to store. Therefore many people like that convenience of dry food. Dry food does have a higher amount of carbohydrates than canned food because carbohydrates are necessary to pop the food into those familiar shapes. Dry food also has less protein than wet food.
Dry food can also be less appetizing when a dog isn’t feeling well and they actually may refuse to eat which means their body isn’t getting the support it needs to overcome the illness. Canned food on the other hand does have more protein and more fat and it is tasty because of this and dogs readily eat it. It also contains a lot of water. This means if your dog isn’t feeling well they’ll probably continue to eat the food and so the water in the food will help maintain their hydration.
While the nutrients help them fight off the illness that plagues them, ideally, dog should be fed a combination of wet and dry food. The wet food makes for tasty choice, better protein quality and the dogs eat it more readily. The dry food on the other hand has the economical aspect, so the cost of the overall diet is minimized. The important thing to know about feeding a combination is that you have to be mindful of calories. You have to account for the calories in the wet and you have to account for the calories in the dry and make sure that the combination does not exceed the daily calorie needs of your dog.