Looking after your dog well is about a number of things – including dog walking, grooming, shelter, veterinary care, and a proper diet.
We tend to often think of dogs as carnivores and take it for granted that their diet should be exclusively meat, but in actual fact (and unlike cats in general), they are omnivores – they require a diet that is balanced in protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Many commercial dog foods are very high in protein, and are marketed as satisfying the instinctual needs of dogs to eat meat. High consumption of protein is, however, unnecessary and can even be detrimental to a dog’s health. This is particularly true if the dog in question has certain medical conditions.
Proteins are essential for functional health, but excessive amounts of protein cannot be processed at once and also cannot be stored in the body. Excess protein must be excreted via the urine and this can put strain on the kidneys.
High protein, purely meat-based diets also create imbalance in the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the body, and this can cause additional damage to kidneys and impinge on the proper growth of bones. These diets are also high in calories.
This is why a balance of protein with carbohydrate and good fats is so important. Optimal dog foods are formulated for the lifestyle your dog leads: is your dog a pup or a senior? Is he a working dog or does he lead a sedentary lifestyle? Is your pup a large breed or a toy breed? All of these considerations impact on your dog’s dietary requirements and future health that results from what he eats.
Choose a balanced pet food as recommended by your vet. The best pet food companies undertake scientific research and create a premium product based on this.
Other tips for feeding your dog include:
• Human-grade raw meat that is preservative-free
• Raw meaty bones (no more than one or two per week)
• Dog-safe vegetables (potatoes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumber, green beans, peas, sweet potato)
• Tinned tuna or salmon in spring water (occasionally)
• Fresh drinking water must be available at all times
• Feed at least twice a day (this will avoid bloating)
• Provide your dog access to grass that is not near toxic plants or chemically treated – dogs will snack on grass if they need some vegetable matter
• Never exercise your dog just before or just after feeding – this can cause bloating and gastrointestinal distress.
Remember – a healthy dog is a happy dog!