I firmly believe that your Dog is part of your family therefore deserves the best When I say “the best”, that does not mean your best friend should be sitting down and eating the same food as you This may seem like the easiest option, however, it really is not. Unfortunately Dogs have very different stomachs to us and the wrong kind of food can make your loved one very poorly. The funny thing is, your Dog does not know what is bad for him He will eat anything if it tastes nice to him, he will not know it’s bad, even when you take him to the vet because of an adverse reaction to say a juicy leg of Pork.
How to Choose the Right Dog Food
Food is the most important factor in your Dog’s life. He needs to gain everything to ensure his body can cope with the energy required to run in a field or chase a ball. Also, he requires all the nutrients to ensure his body is healthy not only on the outside but internally. Too much or too little can have adverse effects on your Dog’s diet which can ultimately make him poorly.
The choice can be overwhelming as there are so many companies dedicated to producing Dog food. You should never fall into the trap of buying the product with the nicest packaging or the cheapest option There are many factors to take into account before making your purchase.
First you need to decide whether you need wet, dry or raw Dog food. Dry Dog food comes in the form of kibbles, pellets or biscuits Wet food comes with a kind of jelly that Dogs love and raw food is usually frozen with a high meat content
When buying the food it either comes as “complete” or “complementary”. A “complete” food will contain all the nutrients your Dog will need but a “complementary” will require other foods to supplement it.
You can also buy foods that are designed for different age groups, different breeds and for those with allergies
Things to remember:-
- Low quality foods tend to contain byproducts, additives, cereals, preservatives and artificial colours.
- If the first three ingredients of the food are corn, soy, wheat or byproducts, then the chances are this is low quality food that will not give your Dog the nutrients he requires.
- If within the first three products there is a good meat source and the list is short there is a better chance it is good quality. Also, if the food is naturally preserved then this should contain everything your Dog needs.
- Read the labels carefully. Look for specifically named meat or fish and avoid byproducts.
- If you have a very lethargic Dog that does not get much exercise, then refrain from giving him a high performance diet as this will cause him serious discomfort. High simple carbohydrate diets can lead to obesity.
- Rotate between different brands. Transition between the brands gradually. A balanced diet requires variety.
- High-temperature processing destroys essential nutrients. Try to stay as close as possible to organic and natural ingredients.
- A multi vitamin or mineral supplement can also help.
- You want your Dog to have a happy and long life, so, ensuring he has a healthy diet free from artificial additives etc should go a long way to helping him achieve this.
How to Deal with a Fussy Dog
If your Dog is a fussy eater then you will need to change his diet gradually. (Do remember they are very clever!!). It is a good idea to buy small packets of food to try out on him and try a few different brands until you find one he enjoys. Be aware though, if his diet changes and he starts to lose weight then you must go to the vet for a check up.
Raw Meat, Wet or Dry Food
You need to find a good quality product that your Dog likes. There are so many choices to choose from and the best way to find out which is best is by trial and error. Don’t listen to your friends who swear on this or swear on that as every Dog is different.
Some Dogs adapt really well to raw food while others become constipated. Some people feed a mixture of dry food and raw meat, or wet and dry food, whilst others cook meat for them. Our two Dogs love cooked meat. Nelly is a furry dustbin that can eat anything, raw or cooked, and it will have absolutely no effect on her whatsoever. Hudson on the other hand is far more delicate. He gets diarrhoea very easily so he only gets meat as a treat.
The Important Ingredients
- Nutrients – Your Dog needs a wide range of nutrients for a healthy life. These range from Macro-nutrients, like protein and fat, which dog’s need in large quantities to micro-nutrients that are needed in smaller amounts but are just as important.
- Fat / Oils – These serve essential functions. They promote healthy skin and hair. The fat provides twice the energy of protein or carbohydrates. Essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) cannot be made by your Dog so must be obtained from food. These control inflammation, blood clotting and brain development. Too little can lead to health problems. Some oils when taken in moderation can be beneficial for Dogs and some foods have them added. Common supplement oils include fish, evening primrose, borage oil and rosemary oil.
- Fibre – These have been much debate in the past as to whether a Dog needs Fibre in his diet. The growing consensus is that it can be very beneficial. Fibre provides zero calories and passes through the digestive system pretty much unchanged. It does however act like a sponge and absorbs less water from the colon. It will also help to soak up any diarrhoea so producing a firm stool. It also helps in the reverse. Too little water in the colon causing constipation, then the fibre will gather water from surrounding tissues to help resolve the problem. Fibre is also a pro-biotic. This means it provides a medium and a food source for “friendly” intestinal bacteria. These bacteria help the digestion of food and keep away harmful bugs.
- Protein – Protein is essential for healthy skin and muscle tissue growth and repair. It is also the key ingredient in hair and nails. Within Dog’s it is also an important energy source. Protein comes in many forms and the most important for Dog’s is through meat and fish. In important fact to take into account is that some cheaper brands substitute meat for lower grade protein sources such as soya meal, maize gluten, potato protein and vegetable protein. These are harder for your Dog to digest and can lead to dietary intolerance.
- Minerals / Ash – Ash is often misunderstood in the terms of Dog food. Ash is simply the measure of the mineral content of the food. The calorific content of the food is calculated by incinerating all the carbohydrates, fat, and protein. This leaves only the minerals. The energy released is measured and is known as the ash content. Dogs need a wide variety of minerals to stay fit and healthy. These are the most important:
- Calcium – Necessary for bone formation, teeth, muscle contractions and nerve transmissions.
- Phosphorus – This is required for skeletal structure, DNA, RNA structure, energy metabolism.
- Magnesium – This is needed to allow enzymes to function, nerve cell membrane interface and hormone secretions.
- Potassium – required for healthy nerve function, enzyme reactions, energy metabolism.
- Iron – Integral part of haemoglobin; enzymes in respiration and energy metabolism.
- Copper – Connective tissue; iron metabolism, blood cell formation and defence against oxidation.
- Zinc – Enzyme function; protein and carbohydrate metabolism; skin function and wound healing.
- Manganese – Enzyme reactions; bone development, cartilage formation; neurological function and metabolism.
- Selenium – Important in the immune system and protection against oxidation.
- Vitamins – Vitamins are essential for keeping your Dog fit and healthy. These need to be taken in through diet due to the fact your Dog’s body cannot produce sufficient quantities. There are currently thirteen known vitamins that are crucial.
- Vitamin A – Necessary for growth, vision, foetal development and healthy skin and coat.
- Vitamin B – (X8) These are primarily involved in metabolising and deriving energy from the food you eat.
- Vitamin C – Vital for the immune system.
- Vitamin D – Important during skeletal development and absorbing calcium in the intestine.
- Vitamin E – Defence against oxidative damage.
- Vitamin K – This is involved in assisting blood clotting and bone development.
How Much to Feed
It is just as important to feed your Dog the right amount of food as it is to choose the right Dog food. If I kept filling our Dog’s bowls full of food every time they emptied them they would soon be overweight and unable to do their daily walks. Dogs will just eat and eat as they do not have knowledge of diets and weight maintenance. There are plenty of guidelines on how much food you should be giving your loved ones. The information is also found on the sides of dog Food packaging. If you are unsure speak to your vet and try to weigh your Dog regularly. This will also help you keep an eye on his weight so you can tell if you are over or under feeding him.
When to Feed
Once you have chosen the correct amount of food to feed him then you can divide this up how you see fit. Vets advise against just once a day as your Dog can become bloated and suffer from Gastric Torsion. This can be potentially life threatening so its best to feed him 2 – 3 times a day. Dog’s love consistency so once you have food a good schedule stick to it. I’m sure if you forget a meal time your loved one will remind you ha-ha.
It can be a minefield trying to choose the best Dog food for your loved ones. Try to choose the best quality you can afford and always check the labels for percentage of meat quantity. There should be between 20 – 30% protein in Dry foods and between 5-8% in Wet.
As usual, if you have any comments please drop me a line.