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Does it Really Matter What You Feed Your Dog?
Recently, there has been talk and questions about what is the best thing to feed your dog? Some people recommend the BARF or bones and raw food. Some believe that raw bones should be fed as a supplement to dogs’ regular diet, and some believe that an all-meat diet is best. The simple truth is that a meat-based, high-quality dry food is the best solution. The cheap grocery store brands of dry dog food consist mostly of grain, usually corn. Read the ingredients on the bag and look for protein, fat and Omega-3 fatty acid content. There should be at least 30% protein and at least 18% fat, as well as the Omega-3 fatty acids for immune system health, cell function, energy production and metabolism. These fatty acids also aid in neurological development. Calcium and phosphorus are needed for the development of teeth and bones.
Some specific ingredients to look for when choosing a dry food for your dog or puppy include lamb meal, which is better than just lamb because the lamb contains moisture that is not as optimal. Also, poultry meal, usually poultry, but not poultry by-product. Fat content is also important, but look for poultry tallow as the fat source, as it is easier to digest than animal fat, which could come from anywhere or anything. Remember that if you feed your dog a cheap grain-based food, you will have to feed him twice as much to satisfy his hunger and you will still not provide the nutritional balance he needs.
If your dog develops a food allergy, it will be due to a specific ingredient, no matter what brand you feed your dog. Your vet will help you diagnose the problem and decide the best food for your dogs particular allergy. Some indications of a food allergy include, coat and skin problems (hot spots) and digestive or even respiratory symptoms. A change of food will take at least 8 weeks before you see improvement.
What about sweets? Are they part of a balanced diet for your dog? The answer is yes. In moderation, treats are good for your pet. Try to get sweets that do not contain a high amount of soy and artificial color. Fruits, except grapes and raisins, are a good choice because they are poisonous to dogs. My 3 Dobermans like apples, watermelon and bananas. They may also have bits of cooked beef or chicken. In addition to treats, it’s a good idea to provide your dog or puppy with a high-quality, human-grade pet vitamin. These supplements provide antioxidants that fight cancer causing free radicals, as well as digestive enzymes needed for digestion that are lost in the processing of dry dog food.
The older or senior dog requires some special dietary care. How do you know when your dog should be considered a senior? It actually depends on the size of the dog. Since large dogs don’t tend to live as long as small dogs, a dog weighing 91 pounds can be fed senior formula. Up to 90 pounds, a dog can be considered a senior at age 6. Some of the health changes older dogs face are dental problems, obesity and failing eyesight. They require fewer calories but not reduced protein.
I just want to say a word here about feeding large breed puppies. The quality dog food brands have developed a special formula for puppies that will grow to over 65 pounds. This is important because too much development too quickly can cause bone and joint problems as the puppy grows. The puppy must be well fed, but not excessive. The balance of nutrition in the large breed formulas is designed to prevent puppies from growing too large too quickly. I hope this helps answer some of the questions about what and how to feed your dog or puppy.
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