Dog food marketing experts do their best to convince you that their brand is better than all the rest. The food’s nutritional value should be the focus of your purchase, but the manufacturers often make the food look and smell like meaty human food in order to attract your attention.
You have several choices of dog food formats. You probably know what they look like and how much they cost, so let’s just jump to the relative merits and drawbacks of each format, then wander into other things we feed our pets that also make up part of their diet.
TYPES OF DOG FOOD
Commercial dog food comes in three general formats:
|Moist or Canned Food||good taste, digestible, with a long shelf life||most expensive|
|Dry Food||affordable, reduces tartar build-up on teeth||storage problem—food can get stale and lose some nutritional value|
|Semi-Moist||easy to store, tastes good and digestible||cost may be quite a bit higher than dry food|
VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
If you’re feeding your dog a good quality dog food, you’re probably not depriving your dog of good nutrition. On the other hand, a good balanced supplement isn’t likely to hurt your dog and, for some dogs, supplements help coat quality. The biggest mistake you can make, though, is throwing your dog’s diet off balance by over-supplementing with unbalanced products. Healthy dogs don’t need much in the way of supplements. If you’re thinking about supplementing your dog’s diet, check with your veterinarian first.
WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY DOG?
Dogs, like humans, have different nutritional needs at various stages of their lives.
Puppies: A puppy’s diet should take into account his need for extra nutrients. Avoid enthusiastically overfeeding your pup; follow the directions on bags or cans of trusted puppy food manufacturers. Some breeds are prone to obesity and overfeeding at an early age will have a long-term effect.
Adult Dogs: Adult dogs need no exceptional diet. Major dog food brands are dependable and have all the nutrients your beloved pooch needs. Adjust the quantity fed to keep your dog at the proper weight.
Older Dogs: Generally, after age seven, dogs may benefit from foods specially designed for aging dogs. While some older dogs may have failing appetites, others may be prone to obesity because they get less exercise.
Performance Dogs: Hunting dogs, racing dogs, guide dogs and police dogs are all examples of performance dogs. Clearly, they require extra energy from their diets because of both physical exertion and high stress. The professionals who work with them are usually well informed about dietary options for these special canines. A high energy, high fat diet is the general rule.
Pregnant Dogs: Pregnant and lactating bitches undoubtedly need extra energy in their diets. Malnourishment is bad for your bitch and her puppies; follow feeding directions carefully to make sure she has the energy she needs to supply milk for her litter. A nursing mother dog is really a performance dog with respect to her energy needs.
Is Human Food Good for My Dog?
Many of us mistakenly feed our dogs human foods as a gesture of love. For the record, dog food is more balanced and nutritious, but if you’re intent on letting your dog have a taste of what you eat, then keep these things in mind:
- Dogs love raw meat, but it has too much protein and too little calcium.
- A little vegetable oil can improve the look of your dog’s coat, but if his coat and skin aren’t lustrous, chances are his food is inferior or even stale.
- Eggs are good, but never raw!
- Cow’s milk is high in lactose; it might give dogs, and especially pups, diarrhea.
- Bones are failing fast as a good tartar buildup solution; even good old knucklebones can break an older dog’s teeth.
- As for chocolate, don’t feed it; unsweetened is the worst: 2.2 ounces is a lethal dose for a 25-pound dog. Milk chocolate isn’t quite as bad: 1.5 lbs is a lethal dose for the same dog.
Other Human Consumables
Many substances that are perfectly safe for humans may not be good for your dogs. Some are harmless, but may be a waste of money.
- Glucosamine has been shown to help human joints stay healthy. While this supplement may help your dog, check with your vet to be sure the dosage is appropriate.
- Ibuprofen can be deadly for dogs. Check with your vet if your dog experiences pain. Tylenol may be prescribed, but stick to the dosages recommended by your vet.
- Toothpaste and mouthwash made for dogs may be more of a treat than a necessity. A switch to dry food may take care of foul breath better than these items.
- Avoid sharing your drinks with your dog. Substances with sugar and alcohol aren’t for your canine buddy. Don’t leave liquids on the floor of your deck or patio where your dog might indulge.
WHEN SHOULD I FEED MY DOG?
In reality, the routine should suit your lifestyle. If your dog is left alone a lot and your comings and goings are random, you might start out with free choice feeding where you dump a whole day’s food in the bowl and let him eat when he’s hungry. If you like routines and you’re used to feeding once or twice a day, then go with it.
If you provide home cooked food for your dog, use a trusted recipe designed for nutritional balance. Lady may love to polish off a half pound of hamburger, but raw meat doesn’t even begin to fulfill her nutritional requirements.