Feeding Your Dog: The Basics of Healthy Dog Food

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The Basics of Healthy Dog FoodTo sustain your dog’s good health condition, it’s vital to feed him a well-balanced diet and the correct amount of it every day.

There is a wide variety of canine foods available, so it can be hard deciding which selection or make is the most beneficial choice for your pet.

There are, however, particular dietary nutrients that a dog can’t do without – protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, in addition to age, health and lifestyle factors to consider, and this helps to make the task of picking out the most suitable diet less difficult.

Diet Plan

Dogs are omnivorous in the feeding habits and can be kept satisfactory on specially designed vegetarian diet programs, although they do prefer meat-based meals. In a wild state the dog hunts, kills, feeds, then rests.


He may stuff himself on a whole animal one day, and then go without food for the following two or three; this is why a lot of dogs are keen to eat until they’re fit to burst – intuition tells them they may have to hold out some time before their next mealtime.

Adult domestic dogs are often fed once a day, but dividing that feed into two meals adds relationship and interest. It’s also preferable to feed certain deep-chested breeds, like German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Setters, several small meals as opposed to one big one, to avoid potentially terminal digestive conditions such as bloat.

You will find retail produced clinical diets available, typically only obtainable from veterinarians, that can assist dogs struggling with a wide range of disease, like kidney stones, signs of senility, obesity, digestive disturbances, diabetes mellitus and tooth and gum problems.

There are even food items engineered for long-coated breeds, in addition to life-stage formulas. You may also choose from holistic diets that incorporate no synthetic additives and diets designed for allergy sufferers.

Required Nutrients

The Basics of Healthy Dog FoodUsually, dogs aren’t difficult to feed, and they thrive on a diet not really different to humans, albeit with a little more protein. The majority of foods of animal origin, cereal products, root vegetables and fats are easy for them to break down.

The trick of correct feeding is to give a balanced diet that provides all essential goodness in the appropriate proportions to one another with the objective intended – work, breeding, growth or health adulthood. These types of nutrients are listed below:

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, by means of cooked cereal starch or sugar, provides up to 70% by weight of the dog’s food (after taking away any water present) or about two-thirds of the calories. Dog biscuits, pasta and rice are three useful energy foods for dogs, and rice is a useful food item for canines allergic to wheat.

Proteins

Proteins within meat and plants (although the latter is substandard to the former) improve body tissue, carry out “repairs” and produce hormones. The dry matter of dog food ought to contain at least 15% protein, of which the majority should come from animal foods (meat and dairy products), or high-quality vegetable protein like soya.

Minerals

Minerals are occasionally referred to as “ash” on dog-food labels. The essential ones are calcium, phosphorus and sodium chloride (common salt) in a well balanced combination. Calcium and phosphorus constitute most of the mineral matter of bone and must be utilized at the rate of about 3% calcium/phosphorus in the diet; an excessive amount of calcium in the diet, particularly in large-breed puppies, can result in skeletal irregularities, while an excessive amount of phosphorus (found in high meat and offal diets) could potentially cause eclampsia in lactating female dogs.

Additional essential minerals for good health, like zinc and copper, occur naturally in meat, cereals as well as other components of a balanced diet.

Vitamins

Vitamin A (also called retinol) is important for growth and eyesight, while vitamins of the B group are crucial for the upkeep, in particular, of the nervous system.

Vitamin D assists the body create calcium, required for healthy bones and teeth, as is phosphorus. Vitamin E (tocopherol) is important for the leveling of cell membranes. Since canines can create their own vitamin C (ascorbic acid, essential for maintaining healthy connective tissue and skin), this doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the diet.

Fat

Fat contributes to food palatability, but is in fact only essential as a source of the essential fatty acids (EFAs, also known as polyunsaturates) which are vital to maintain body health. They work mainly by handling water loss through the skin.

A deficiency in EFAs can lead to reproductive, skin, coat and wound therapeutic problems.

Fiber

An absence of fiber in the diet may result – particularly in elderly, inactive dogs – in bowel problems and other digestive problems cause by sluggish bowels. Fiber is provided through the indigestible plant matter in foods like cooked and raw veggies as well as cereals.

Balancing Act

The Basics of Healthy Dog FoodIt’s critical that the balance of nutrients provided to a dog is correct, since excesses could cause as many health issues as inadequacies. If your dog gets more calories each day than his body requires, he will get fat.

Just as in humans, obesity accounts for many canine illnesses, like heart problems, joint ailments and decline in lung function.

Just How Much Must I Feed to My Dog?

This relies on your pet’s:

  • Size
  • Activity level
  • Age
  • Personality
  • Temperature of surroundings

Young puppies and those being worked, or which are really active every day, may require more food (calories) per day than the average pooch, while an old, inactive dog will need less.

Keeping Track of the Calories

Energy is calculated in units of heat called calories. In a healthy dog, the amount of calories he requires levels out the number of calories that his body uses daily. If this balance is well kept, the dog stays healthy and fit and his weight remains regular.

An underfed dog steadily loses weight and condition as his body pulls on the reserves of fat and protein to make up the insufficiencies in his diet.

The amount of calories a dog needs daily is dependent on his size, life stage, activity level and individuality. As an example, a little healthy adult dog with two hours of regular activity a day demands anything between 125 and 700 calories daily depending on his size; a big dog will need from 1,400 per day, depending on size.

Puppies require more calories with regards to their body weight since they’re growing swiftly, tend to be more susceptible to heat loss because of their small size, and their energy requirements are greater.

Lactating female dogs require some 50 to 60% more calories than usual, and highly active (working) dogs require at least 40% more calories than normal moderately energetic requirements.

When Should I Feed My Dog?

Most owners feed either in the morning or the evening, and quite often both, determined by their dog’s age needs or individual preferences. Some canines fare better with their daily ration broken into two or even three meals, while some are pleased to eat their daily allowance in just a single helping, providing it’s safe for them to do so.

It’s best to not feed adult dogs at the same periods each day, since counting on a rigid routine can upset the dog if you come home late and aren’t able to give him food at the predicted time. Being unsure of when it will be fed likewise helps feed a dog food-orientated, which often proves most helpful when training; additionally, it discourages fussy eating.

Feeding Recommendations

The Basics of Healthy Dog FoodHere are a few basic guidelines to adhere to when feeding your dog:

  • Place a feeding mat, or newspaper, under feeding bowls, since many canines are sloppy eaters.
  • It is advisable to introduce changes to diet little by little to prevent intestinal problems.
  • Never give spiced food or that to which any liquor has been added
  • To avoid choking, get rid of all bones from fresh meats and fish.
  • Fresh, clean drinking water must always be accessible.
  • Make certain food and water bowls are always clean.
  • By no means allow your dog to consume chocolate intended for human consumption, as it’s toxic to them.
  • Confer with your vet if your dog exhibits any reluctance to eat or drink.
  • Dissuade your dog from begging at the table, and definitely don’t give into it.

Food Types

Good-quality proprietary food is the simplest to feed. It consists of all the essential nutrients in the correct proportions, which includes vitamins and minerals that may be lacking from a home-made diet of fresh or cooked meat and table scraps.

These are four forms of commercially prepared food:

1. Wet or Moist Canned or Pouch Dog Food

Canned food has high water content, is available in a wide range of flavors and is usually the preferred choice of dogs.

Pros:
•    Extremely palatable
•    Contains all the nutrients a dog needs
•    Long storage time if unopened

Cons:
•    Bulky to store and heavy to carry
•    Fattening
•    Strong odor
•    Not good for teeth
•    Contains many artificial additives
•    Spoils quickly
•    Expensive

2. Semi-moist Pouch Dog Food

The Basics of Healthy Dog FoodOften containing vegetable protein like soya, this food type contains less water than canned, therefore keeps well in a bowl without drying out and losing texture.

Pros:
•    Palatable
•    Contains all the nutrients a dog needs
•    Easier to store than the cans

Cons:
•    Fattening
•    Strong odor
•    Not good for teeth
•    Very expensive
•    Contains man-made artificial additives
•    Spoils quickly

3. Dry Complete Dog Food

As its name suggests, dry complete food contains minimal water and all the nutrients your dog needs.

Some types are designed to be moistened with water before feeding, while other types can be fed as they are, in which case your dog will need plenty of water to drink in conjunction with it.

Pros:
•    Economical
•    Low odor
•    Contains all the nutrients a dog needs
•    Better for teeth
•    Convenient to food

Cons:
•    Bulky to store
•    Goes off if stored too long
•    Not as palatable as canned/semi-moist
•    High cereal content can cause problems for gluten-sensitive dogs

4. Dry Complementary Dog Food

Designed to be fed with canned, cooked or raw meat, this food usually comprises cereal meal or biscuits. Fed alone, it doesn’t fulfill a dog’s daily nutritional needs.

Pros:
•    Economical
•    Low odor
•    Good source of energy
•    Most are supplemented with vitamins and minerals
•    Better for teeth

Cons:
•    Time-consuming to mix with protein-giving ingredients
•    Spoils if stored too long
•    Bulky to store

Homemade Food

A lot of dogs enjoy homemade foods, but basing a completely balanced diet around these can be really difficult; a vitamin and mineral supplement will likely be needed as well – consult your vet for advice.

For easy feeding, particularly for busy owners, it’s simpler to stick to proprietary dog food and only give a periodic homemade meal for a treat, or to tempt a dog that is ill and has lost his appetite.

In the case of the latter, items such as cooked porridge, boneless meats and fish, and scrambled eggs are often appreciated and easily digested. Always allow cooked foods to cool before serving.

Keep Your Pets Healthy, Naturally

Just like us, domesticated animals like dogs and cats are affected by the health hazards of modern living. Pollution, poor nutrition, stress and unhealthy lifestyles can lead to a variety of illnesses and conditions that are very similar to those experienced by people.

As our Native Remedies customers grew to know and trust our range of natural remedies for children and adults, they began asking for safe, effective natural solutions especially designed for their pets.

As treasured members of their families, our customers wanted their pets to be able to receive the same benefits as they had discovered for themselves with Native Remedies.

In many cases, our natural remedies for humans were used with great effect for the pets in the family and, as time went on, we could no longer ignore the need for remedies especially formulated for pets, with pet-friendly doses and remedies which could be easily administered.

Out of this was born PetAlive – a range of herbal and homeopathic remedies to help with a variety of ailments commonly experienced by dogs, cats, horses, and small pets.

Learn more about PetAlive and their large line of effective, safe and guaranteed remedies for pets!

Photo Credits:
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by LuAnn Snawder Photography
Photo by -=RoBeE=-
Photo by aussiegall
Photo by klynslis
Photo by Gene Hunt

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  1. Feeding Your Dog: The Basics of Healthy Dog Foo... - May 19, 2014

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