Your dog’s diet is important for your dog’s health and behavior. The type of dog food you give your dog and how much have been the subject of many studies and has generated a great deal of debate. Here you’ll find a treasure trove of advice about what dog owners should look for in commercial dog food and whether homemade dog food is better.
A couple of initial thoughts on dog food
It is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before you change your dog’s diet to a new type of dog food, especially if you want to give your dog supplements of a special type of dog food or if your dog has race-or disease-specific needs. It is important to use the correct dosage of dog food if you give your dog supplements in the diet, otherwise you risk giving your dog an overdose of minerals or vitamins. Not all vets know a lot about dog nutrition, but they often see many nutrition-related cases in their practices. The best vets gives you an honest answer on the depth of their knowledge in a field and get back to you with the answer to your question.
Your dog’s digestive system is slow to adapt
Please note that sudden and large changes in a dog’s diet by choosing a new type of dog food can cause digestive problems, so introduce major changes in your dog’s diet gradually by mixing some of the old dog food with the new. This is especially important when introducing puppies to a new type of dog food gradually, because dogs can develop allergies if your puppy’s diet suddenly changes.
Commercial dog food – kibble (dry food) or canned?
What to look for in commercial dog food? The answer is nutrients, ingredients and the food declaration. First check ingredients and see what are the nutrients contained in each dog food and what dosage suggestions are provided. Dogs need the right balance of nutrients for example. proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in line with what is “good practice” in dog nutrition.
However, nutrients must also be accessible to the dog. Dogs can’t digest all ingredients in dog food equally well. As an example grains are a poor source of protein for dogs and does not provide the dog with the amino acids dogs need. Many dogs have specific reactions to individual foods that can be found in dog food. Nutrient and volume that is listed in the declaration doesn’t tell you much on its own you also need to look at the ingredients.
The ingredients in dog food is important
Meat is a good source of protein for dogs and it is therefore a good idea to choose dog food that has meat or fish as a main ingredient in dog food. It is believed that oily fish can give the dog some protection against cancer and other diseases. But common to most labels is that they do not tell what fish or what part of the fish that is included in the dog food.
Is the amount of additives in dog food important?
It is best for your dog to expose it to as few additives through dog food as a possible. For example preservatives, colorings, flavorings and other additives that often are found in dog food. Additives are not always bad for your dog, but “natural additives” does not always mean that they are good. Many additives have only existed for a short time, so their long-term effects are unknown. Dogs and people can not always tolerate the same additives, so just because you can eat a food does not necessarily mean that it is good for your dog.
Colors and flavors of dog food
Common sense dictates that it is best to avoid dog food with a high content of dyes. Your dog does not care how the food looks. Smell, taste and texture are more important for dogs and dyes are usually intended to make food more appetizing to humans. Added flavour should also be avoided, not because they necessarily are bad by themselves, but because they can lure your dog towards obesity.
Preservatives are used more often in dry than in the canned food as the canned packaging itself is a preservation method. There has been some debate about whether dog owners should avoid preservatives. Dog food without preservatives will naturally rot quickly, so if you choose a dry food without preservatives, you should use it before the expiry date and keep it sealed in a dry and cold place. Dog Owners often buys in bulk in order to save money, but it is not saving much if you end up having to pay vet bills for skin problems or other diseases caused by the fact that you have fed your dog dry food that has lost its nutritional value over time.
So what dog food is best?
To buy dry food for your dog is cheaper and easier, but dry food may contain more grain and preservatives because grain is easier to store than dry meat and because canned packaging in itself is a preservation method.
Dogs on dry food needs more water
Dogs need more water if fed dry food. Therefore, dogs on a dry food diet are more at risk of becoming dehydrated if they do not have access to water. It is important to remember, as many dog owners remove a dog’s access to food and water at night or when the owner is out of the house, hoping that this can help keep the dog from having a toilet accident. Dogs can develop kidney or bladder problems if they are fed with dry food and not getting enough water. It is better to arrange that someone comes by at the middle of the day and takes the dog out for a walk than to take the dog’s water away and expect the dog to go without water. If you can’t get someone to walk your dog, you can at least give the dog access to water and place the dog at a place where the dog can pee (or install a dog door to a fenced in garden).
Is dry food better for your dog’s teeth?
Some dog owners believe that dry food is better for a dog’s teeth, but most dogs that are fed canned food are also given acrunchy snack at times. There is not necessarily a huge difference in quality between expensive or cheap dog food, the price may just as well reflect the marketing budget or other price-determining factors. You can contact the company that produces the dog food for more information, if nothing else, their answers probably give you a bearing on how seriously the company takes requests from consumers.
Rotating different commercial food in your dog’s diet
Many believe it is a good idea to feed your dog with a smaller range of different types of commercial food in rotation instead of feeding the dog the same type of commercial dog food through the dog’s entire life – unless the dog has special needs. New discoveries are often made in relation to dog nutrition and it can be hard to hit all of the recommended nutrients with only one commercial dog food.
Is homemade dog food the best?
There is no one simple answer to this question. Both commercial and homemade food varies in quality and content. But if your dog gets the remains of your homemade food you have at least more control over the ingredients in your dog’s diet. This can be important if your dog is allergic or have special needs.
What food should your dog always avoid?
There are some foods that dogs have difficulty digesting and others that are toxic to the dog. Food that your dog should avoid include; Chocolate and all products with sugar, garlic, tofu, onion, and a high content of salt. This means that you should not give your dog scraps from the table that contains onion, garlic, salt or sugar. Many dog owners often give their dog a little bite from the day’s meal – this is not always desirable.
If you frequently give your dog treats such as small commercial treats in dog training it is a good idea to use regular dry food or other full meals instead. Many commercial dog treats are not for the dog to eat them in large quantities as a substitute for an ordinary meal.
Can dogs eat cat food?
Dogs and cats have different nutritional needs. It is not a good idea to give a dog cat food. Dogs who live with a cat might try to steal the cat food and thus lose appetite for the dogs own food. For this reason it’s a good idea to place cat food where the dog can’t get at it.
Do dogs and puppies drink cows milk?
This topic has been the subject of some debate, but it is nevertheless clear that some dogs are intolerant of cow’s milk. If your dog gets reactions like indigestion by drinking milk, the dog should obviously not be given milk. There are special milk products (that can be purchased from the vet) that you can buy to hand feed a puppy whose mother isn’t able to feed it.
Why dogs eat grass often and is it harmful?
Grass is a natural emetic. If you see your dog eat a lot of grass, it is a good idea to let the dog stay outside until it barfs. House plants may be tempting for the dog if it has no access to grass, so it may be a good idea to put the plants where the dog can not get to them. It is not entirely clear why dogs eat grass, but one explanation may be that it contains a lot of fiber.
Does a dog’s diet affect its teeth and gums?
Sugar is obviously bad for a dog’s teeth. Calcium deficiency from a diet consisting solely of meat will weaken the teeth and bones in general. Hard and crunchy foods are generally better for the teeth and gums.
How much food should I give my dog?
There is no one simple answer to this question. Dogs vary in proportion to how fast they burn food. Very active dogs and working dogs have a tendency to eat more, as did the females to produce milk. Depending on how many puppies the mother dog has and what breed the mother dog is it can eat up to 4 times as much as usual. Younger dogs may undergo periods of growth where their appetite varies over a month. Old dogs need fewer calories but more minerals and vitamins.
Sled dogs benefit from a diet high in fat and protein for long stretches while a Greyhound fare better on food with high fat and moderate protein for its short and intense sprints. You can inquire about advice and guidance for your particular dog breed at your kennel club. As a rule of thumb you can adjust how much food you give your dog if the dog leaves food in his bowl or becomes too thin or fat. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, if you can’t then your dog is probably overweight. If you are unsure you may want to ask your veterinarian.
How often should you feed your dog?
Puppies need to eat several times a day while adult dogs can survive by eating one or two times a day. Some dogs are happy with just one meal a day, but two meals a day are safer – especially for an active or large dog. Give your dog at least an hour to digest his food before you take the dog out on a jog or something else active – otherwise it can be dangerous for the dog. A rule of thumb is that the dog must have its main meal after the dog has been active instead of receiving it before.
Dogs should also have time to relax after their exercise before the dog gets food. If you want you can replace a meal completely with dry food you use as prizes in training for a young dog. If you do this, you must take care not to give the dog too much. The dog’s stomach must not get overloaded while running around. It is best to feed the dogs at the same times every time, especially for a puppy you are about to train to be housebroken.
Can I give my dog vegetarian food?
It is possible, but certainly not recommendable. Dogs are designed to be carnivorous and it is very difficult to feed them in an appropriate way without giving them meat and fish.
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