Canine Nutrition: Knowing Your Dog’s Needs

There’s so much information on diet and nutrition out there that it’s understandable to get fatigued by it all. The Atkins diet, the Dukan diet, the cabbage soup diet, low-fat, low-carb, low-G.I, fad diets spring up and are replaced so fast, it’s all so bamboozling. Just as soon as you’re told that one super nutritious food will solve all of your health problems, the very next day another nutrition guru lambasts it as the root of all evil. In this climate, it’s understandable that many of us choose simply to eat sensibly, in moderation and avoiding processed foods.

Unfortunately, in this spirit, many of us dog owners are living in ignorance of our pets’ dietary needs and plying them with heavily processed tinned foods that can eventually lead to health problems resulting in expensive vets bills. The good news is that far more nutrient rich foods from main meals to dog jerky treats and other healthy snacks are available at a fairly negligible difference in price.

Let’s have a look at what your dog needs and how you can provide it…

Age appropriate feeding

dog

Just like us, dogs have different nutritional requirements as they age. Puppies who have just been weaned will have sensitive palates and will need their food to be mixed with warm water or puppy milk replacement to create a soupy mixture that they’ll be able to eat and digest easily. Puppy food contains more vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids and proteins in greater concentrations than those needed for their adult counterparts. Likewise, senior dogs will eat less and will put on more body fat than when they were younger (yes, dogs get middle aged spread, too!), so they need more lean proteins and greater fiber (older dogs are prone to constipation) despite the reduction in calories.

Portion control- dogs need it too

In the Supersize Me age, many of us are all too happy to keep on eating way past the point of satiation until we feel fit to burst. Dogs are natural scavengers who are hard-wired to eat as much as they can because they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Thus, portion control is extremely important for dogs. While many look to the back of the pet food container for advice on how much to feed our furry friends, these can be very loosely defined. Try using this pet food calculator to determine the right amount to feed your dog based on their age, weight and activity level.

If your dog needs to lose weight

dog

It’s virtually impossible to find overweight animals in the wild. They only ever become overweight or obese when human intervention comes into play. If you’ve over-indulged your pet over the years your good intentions could lead to some health problems including:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis

You can reverse this risk by using the portion control calculator above and making sure that your best pal gets regular exercise. If you over-indulge them with treats, or keep sneaking them scraps at the table then these unhelpful behaviors will need to go!

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