Monthly Archives: September 2012
Healthy dog food: how to feed your dog properly
One of the vital ways to promote good health and ensure a long life for your dog is to provide him or her with meals that are both wholesome and nutritionally balanced. This balance must match your dog’s phase of life; puppies have different nutritional needs than do dogs in their last years of life. Throughout your pet’s life, a healthy weight dog food will help to ensure that he looks and feels his best; it can even influence the behavior habits he develops along the way.
Healthy dog food and how to feed your dog properly
There are three main types of dog food today’s consumers can choose from: homemade mixes, raw foods, and commercial mixes. For reasons of cost and convenience, most dog owners today opt for a commercial mix. There is no reason why this cannot provide optimal nutrition for your dog, but it is important to be sure you are using a commercial preparation that will promote excellent health.
Dogs are mainly carnivorous, which means that meats, poultry, and fish should predominate on the list of ingredients. While all of these are high in protein, dogs also need calcium and other nutrients; this is why commercial dog foods often contain ingredients from the vegetable and dairy groups. However, too much fibrous matter can cause digestive problems; consumers should check labels carefully to be sure that at least 30% of the calories in a product come from protein sources. It is also best to avoid preservatives as much as possible as a number of them are linked to health problems. BHT and BHA, for example, can contribute to the development of liver and kidney dysfunction.
Tips and advice for dog owners
A dog food that offers solid nutrition with a minimum of chemical preservatives is only the start for the responsible dog owners. It is also important to carefully gauge the amount you feed your dog since even the healthiest preparation can lead to obesity if too much is consumed. Read the instructions that come with any commercial preparation, but regard them as guidelines that may be impacted by several other factors.
Your dog’s activity level will influence his need for calories. House pets that rarely engage in vigorous outdoor running and playing should have calories cut back by about 10%, while very active pets may need as much as 40% more calories than expected. Above all, let your pet’s weight be your best guide. Watch carefully for any signs of obesity and cut back on portion sizes accordingly.
Another issue to keep in mind is general health. Dogs that are recovering from an illness or a medical procedure may need additional calories as they regain strength and heal damaged tissue.
Feeding your dog: dos and don’ts
Feed an adult dog once or twice each day, but provide food for puppies three or four times in the same span. This will help younger dogs steadily develop their bones and muscles as they grow.
Don’t ever feed a dog scraps from the table. This practice will discourage the dog from eating the more wholesome food in his bowl and will also tend to promote obesity.
Avoid overfeeding a dog. Your pet may well eat as much as you provide even when the additional calories are not needed. An obese dog may have a hard time losing weight, and those excess pounds can contribute to diabetes and heart disease as well as several other debilitating health conditions.
Feeding your dog right throughout his or her lifetime will help to ensure that it lives a long and healthy life – a life that both you and your pet can enjoy to the fullest.
Sarah White is a freelance writer who loves pets.