The biggest concern on any responsible pet owner’s mind is about how to choose the right diet for their dogs. While many choose to feed their dogs home cooked food, many still struggle to find the right information on what is exactly healthy for their dogs. In more than several occasions, pet owners resort to choosing what the advertisements suggest or what is available in stores. However, to make sure that your dog leads a healthy life, you have to realize that not everything available is right for YOUR dog. Feeding your dog a high-quality well-balanced dog food is one of the best things that you, as a pet owner, can do to keep your dog healthy. A good food will keep your dog’s coat shiny and sleek. It will strengthen his immune system. It will keep his digestive system in good health. But when it comes to choosing a dog food, the options seem almost endless.
- The digestive system of dogs and humans are absolutely different.
- The nutritive needs of dogs and humans are absolutely different.
- The digestive system of the dogs have been adapted to the lifestyle of wolves and dogs in the wild.
- Every dog is different and food needs to cater to those differences.
There are several ways you can find the right food about your dog.
Research about the breed
Though dogs are anatomically the same, different breed of dogs have been bred for different activities and thus their activity levels and their nutritional needs differ. Starting from calcium requirements and protein content, every breed is unique.
Understand your dog’s life stage
Make sure that the food you choose is appropriate for your dog’s stage of life. A puppy eating an adult food will not get the higher amounts of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals he needs for proper growth. An adult dog eating puppy food is likely to become overweight. An older dog may need a senior food that is more easily digested. When it comes to nutrition, one size does not fit all.
Vets and pet nutritionists are the best people to give you the right advice on how your dog’s diet should be styled based on its present conditions. If your dog is old or obese, or underweight or allergic, your vet and pet nutritionist will be able to identify each problem and will be able to guide you on what to feed and what not to feed. Make sure that your dog’s weight is on-track. The main point to remember is that you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs.
Home cooked or packaged dog food: all your choice
You can choose to give your dog home cooked food or dog food, based on your time, energy and your faith in either of them. Though there are few really good premium dog food brands in the market, one has to research well on the ingredients, affordability, health benefits and customer reviews before making a final call. Even to get the right home cooked dog food, you need to research on the active ingredients and the correct ratio. You have to make sure that you strictly stick to the correct quantity.
Glutens and grains
Grains are used in many pet foods and provide an excellent source of carbohydrates. Dogs can easily metabolize these carbohydrates and use them as an energy source. However, some dogs are allergic to grains and glutens. Avoiding grains for those dogs that are allergic to them is a valid choice.
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Information on sourcing and quality control in manufacturing is not required on pet food labels. You may be able to find the information on the company’s website but if not, call their consumer relations department and ask where its ingredients are sourced. Any reputable company with a quality product will be happy to engage with its consumers.
Nutritional management for special conditions
If your dog has any sort of disease or an inherited propensity for disease, ask your veterinarian about the benefits of nutritional therapy to help treat or prevent the disease. Don’t settle for the suggestion of a commercial “prescription” diet; most of them are formulated with lower-quality ingredients. Instead, ask what specifically in the diet has been manipulated so as to be beneficial for your dog. Then, see if you can find a product that offers the same benefits and better-quality ingredients. You should also do some research on your own to determine what dietary changes might help your dog
Activity level. The more a dog exercises the more energy he needs to consume to maintain his condition; it’s that simple.
Growth. Growing puppies have higher energy requirements than adult dogs. A food with a higher protein level, but a moderate (not high) fat level is ideal. Obese puppies are far more prone to degenerative joint disease – especially in large and giant breeds – than puppies with a normal or slim physique.
Age. The age at which a dog becomes a senior citizen varies from breed to breed, with larger dogs considered geriatric at earlier ages. Older dogs typically require fewer calories to maintain their body weight and condition, partly because they tend to be less active than younger dogs.
Environmental conditions. Dogs who live or spend much of their time outside in severe cold temperatures need from 10 percent to as much as 90 percent more energy than dogs who enjoy a temperate climate. The thickness and quality of the dog’s coat, the amount of body fat he has, and the quality of his shelter have direct effects on the dog’s energy needs.
Illness. Sick dogs have increased energy needs; it takes energy to mount an immune response or repair tissues. However, dogs who do not feel well also tend to be inactive, which lowers their energy needs.
Reproduction. A pregnant female’s energy requirement does not increase significantly until the final third of her pregnancy, when it may increase by a factor of three.
Lactation. A nursing female may require eight times more energy than a female of the same age and condition who is not nursing.
Neutering. It is generally accepted that neutered (and spayed) dogs have reduced energy needs. However, there are actually no studies that conclusively prove that neutered dogs require fewer calories simply as a result of lower hormone levels. It has been suggested that these dogs gain weight due to increased appetites and/or decreased activity levels.
Other individual factors. Other factors that can affect a dog’s energy requirement include its temperament (nervous or placid?) and skin, fat, and coat quality (how well he is insulated against weather conditions).
Heads Up For Tails Recommends
We at HUFT strongly recommend that no matter how good your commercial dog food is, and how much anyone recommends it; it can never replace the goodness of real fruits, vegetables and meat. Make sure you don’t let your dog eat dog food for life. Keep mixing and adding the goodness of real chicken, lamb or fish meat, carrots, apples, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beans, curd and eggs in their diet chart. Fresh fruits and some of the vegetables can be used as good alternatives to dog treats. To keep your furry baby healthy, fresh cooked or boiled meat is a must. It will take a little hardwork and patience to study and find out what is best for your dog. Oats, curd, fish oil and meat also has natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids that keep your pet’s fur shiny and keeps the gut healthy.
In the end one has to remember that there is nothing called the best dog food. You have to also use trial and error method to decide on the right formulation for your dog, and yes… if your dog likes the food then he will love you for it!