Dog nutrition is essential for your dog to remain healthy on the inside and out. With the overwhelming number of dog food choices on the shelves today, how do you know which ones are considered quality and which ones are not?
The dog food trends appear to consist of diets that are all natural, grain-free, raw foods, and gluten-free. Some pet parents are opting for homemade dog food instead of commercial brands. Organic seems to be a buzz word among canines as well. The good news is that with all the quality foods available to you today, it is difficult for your dog to have a nutritional deficiency.
What’s In Quality Dog Food?
Quality food contains vitamins and minerals, fats, and carbohydrates. The main ingredient in quality food should be protein. Protein can be in the form of beef, chicken, lamb, fish or turkey.
The easiest way to know if the food you are feeding your dog is high-quality, complete and balanced, is to look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) information on the bag. The AAFCO is responsible for safeguarding the health of our pets and establishing a baseline of dog nutritional requirements so all foods can be evaluated using the same standards.
A complete and balanced diet means that your dog is getting the proper nutrients he needs for strong bones, a sharp mind, bright eyes, shiny coat, and support for his joints. When your dog eats a nutritious diet found in quality dog food, he will be strong and remain healthy.
The Role of Nutrition in your Dog’s Health
Dogs can live healthy lives by eating a variety of foods. They enjoy eating meats, fruits, vegetables and grains just like we do.
The bulk of your dog’s diet should come from a nutritionally complete and balanced dog food. Treats should only comprise five to ten percent of your pet’s diet.
If you are interested in giving human foods as treats to your pet, some safe and healthy options may include Green Beans, Carrot Sticks, and Cucumber Slices.
Make sure that all treats are bite-sized pieces that are easy for your pet to chew and swallow. If you notice any digestive upset, be sure to discontinue those foods causing discomfort.
There are also some foods that you should never feed your pet including Avocados, Grapes, Raisins, and Macadamia Nuts. View more veggies on our list of the best & worst food for your dogs.
Ingredients In A Complete and Balanced Diet
- Proteins make up the tissues of your dog’s body. Your dog can naturally produce 13 of the 23 amino acids (building blocks of protein). He must consume the other ten from outside sources such as plants and meats, so what you feed your dog does matter in keeping him healthy.
- Fats such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 will give your dog energy and help keep his skin and coat healthy. A deficiency in Omega 6 may lead to a dull, flaky coat.
- Vitamins & Minerals help to keep bones & teeth strong, improve metabolism and help to satisfy your overall dog’s nutritional needs.
- Water is essential in your dog’s diet because 60 – 70% of an adult dog’s weight is comprised of water. Make sure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
- Carbohydrates will help keep your dog’s intestines healthy and prevent diarrhea and constipation. With the right amount of healthy carbohydrates, there will be less waste in your backyard. In quality food, your dog is using more of the nutrients that his body needs instead of creating piles of unused nutrient poop. While some believe that dogs do not need carbohydrates in their diet, the expert’s at CesearsWay.com and many others still consider carbs to be an important part of your pup’s overall diet.
The Role of Nutrition in Treating Disease
If you are feeding your dog too much food, they will likely become overweight. This will put them at a higher risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Dogs with Diabetes
Nearly 40% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Like humans, losing weight and staying trim is key when your dog has diabetes. When your dog loses those extra pounds, he will be better able to regulate his insulin levels, which will make it easier for his body to turn food into energy.
Your veterinarian will help you determine how many calories your dog needs every day. He will make recommendations based on your dog’s current weight and activity level. It will be your responsibility when you get home to monitor his food intake.
Most vets recommend a high-fiber, low-fat diet for dogs with diabetes. Fiber slows the speed at which glucose enters the bloodstream and helps your dog feel full longer. Low-fat diets have fewer calories so giving your dog a diet that combines both high-fiber and low-fat can help him eat less and lose weight.
Dogs with Heart Disease
The omega-3 fatty acids are known to help to reduce inflammation, so they are effective in dogs with heart disease. Studies in Boxers and other breeds have shown positive results with fish oil. The use of Vitamin C and E also helps increase circulation and blood flow throughout the heart.
If your dog is currently taking medications to treat their heart disease, they may have lower levels of potassium and magnesium. This can lead to heart arrhythmias and weaker heart muscles.
Dogs with Allergies and other Skin Conditions
If your dog starts to lick and scratch excessively or is always shaking their head, they may be showing signs of an allergy. In food allergies, your dog may be allergic to a particular ingredient, which may mean a series of feeding trials to determine which ingredient may be the culprit.
Symptoms of food allergies in your dog may include chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, chronic diarrhea or gas, excessive licking of their feet or an itchy rear end.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids have anti-inflammatory effects, so they are beneficial for dogs suffering from allergies and other inflammatory skin conditions.
How Nutrition Can Influence Your Dog’s Behavior
When dogs are feeling happy and healthy, they will want to be active with you. They will want to go for walks and play fetch outside. Exercise is good for dogs. Not only does it help keep them at an ideal weight, it is good for their joints, keeps their bones strong, and helps them burn excess energy. Excess energy may lead to destructive behaviors that we may not find as adorable as our four-legged friends.
When your dog is suffering from food allergies, skin conditions, arthritis, diabetes or joint discomfort, they are more likely to show aggression and may withdraw from the family. They may not like to be touched or combed as they once did, and may no longer enjoy some of the same activities that used to bring them joy.
How Important Is The Quality Of Your Dog’s Food?
The quality of our dog’s food is just as important as the quality of your own. As a valued and loved member of the family, your dog deserves the same amount of due diligence in making sure their food is of high quality. A good quality food that meets a dog’s nutritional requirements will supply them with everything they need to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. After all – we are what we eat!
Want to see what veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker thinks of the commercially available dog foods? Watch the following video to find out.
VIDEO: The Quality of Pet Food Ingredients
Dr. Karen Becker walks us through the importance of choosing a good quality dog food. And what makes up a quality food? Quality ingredients, of course?
First and foremost, when evaluating a packaged food, look for the AFCO Approval. AFCO is the American Association Food Control Officers. This means the food is balanced nutritionally and a good choice for your dog.
Also review the Veggie, Protein & Fat Content. Most healthy dogs require a high protein diet. The ingredients should be in order of importance: Protein, Veggies and Fruits should be first.
She explains that some of the most healthy foods come from the freezer section of the upscale pet boutiques. She recommends raw food first. If you can’t or don’t want to feed raw, then canned food is the next best thing. Dehydrated Foods are also a good choice. They serve as a good transition point when changing your dog’s food from a dry food to raw.
Dry food is last on the list since they are normally high in carbohydrates.
Proactive veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker visits an upscale pet boutique to evaluate the quality of the different types of pet food.