What kind of food is fed to your dog can help it live a long happy life or can sometimes cause health problems. There are many reasons you feed the food your dog gets but here are some things that might help increase the nutrients your dog gets on a daily basis.
The Food You Feed Your Dog
Do you know what the food your dog eats has in it? I am not going to tell you what food to feed your dog but educate you on how to find out what you are feeding your dog to be able to make better-informed decisions about the food you give your dog. Learn how to feed healthy food to your dog. Some food brands and types of food have been known to have unsafe ingredients in them and can make your dog sick and are still being sold every day.
Where You Buy Dog Food Makes a Difference
Most of the food you buy at a grocery store or large multi-department store, are normally not foods with the best ingredients in them. Some of the ingredients in low-quality food are known to be toxic and are still allowed to be put in our dog’s food. Recalls happen more often with low-quality food, but only after causing a lot of health issues or even death to multiple or hundreds of dogs. Most dog food has been recalled for different reasons, it is good to check the brand of food you are feeding right now or want to feed and see when the last recall was and what it was for. Some recalls are not toxic for your pet, but others are from the manufacturer for not having the correct ingredients in the food which is why you should know what the recall was for.
Ingredients on the Back of the Bag
Always make sure to read the ingredients on the back of the bag and do not rely on what the bag “claims” on the front of it as these are marketing words and/or phrases that the company knows will get more people to buy their food. If you read the ingredients, you might find what they are saying on the front of the bag is not entirely true of the ingredients. If a company does say claims on the front but does not match what the ingredients are on the back, I would not trust that company.
What to Look for in the Ingredients of Healthy Dog Food
When looking at the ingredients in dog food look for words that you can pronounce and read or as few of the ones that you cannot read or pronounce as possible. Make sure there are no artificial flavors or coloring as these can be toxic to your dog. If your pet has any disease(s) worsened by inflammation, make sure the food does not have ingredients that are known to increase or cause inflammation. These foods include corn, soy, white rice, white potatoes, and highly processed meat (meat byproducts and meat meals). This goes for food that you make for your dog too if you choose to do this. These foods should be avoided if your dog has arthritis, skin issues, chronic bacterial or yeast infections, chronic diarrhea, constipation, among other symptoms. If your dog has any type of chronic disease, you should get less processed food to allow the body to heal and not have to do so much work breaking down the food.
Different Types of Dog Food
Kibble is the most processed food we can give our dogs. All the ingredients are mashed together and cooked at very high heat. Food companies add vitamins and minerals to make sure the dog gets the correct amount of nutrients, but the heat kills a lot of the nutrients that were in the food, to begin with. The next most processed would be canned food. Canned food normally has the same ingredients as the counterpart to the kibble of the same brand and type of food but is not cooked at such high heat and has water added to it. Then you have fresh food or frozen food which is normally slightly cooked to fully cooked meals in tubes, patties, or meatballs, depending on the type and brand. You can also make your food at home, but you need to make sure you know how much of each group of food to give daily and have all the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your dog’s body working as well as it can. Then there is raw and freeze-dried food. These foods are minimally processed and come in several different forms and are easy for the body to digest.
How Much Work Kibble Takes the Body to Break Down and Use It
Kibble is the hardest of the types of food to break down since the body must first rehydrate the food and then the body can start to break down the food to be able to use it. If you have an older dog, a dog with kidney disease, or a dog with bladder issues such as chronic bladder infections, crystals, or stones, you should add water to the kibble before feeding it to make sure the dog does not use up the fluid in their body or a lot of energy rehydrating the food. You should allow at least 15 minutes for the kibble to soak up the water or sodium-free broth before feeding it to your dog. Not feeding kibble and feeding one of the other forms of food can be better for dogs with kidney disease, older dogs, and dogs with bladder issues.
With raw food, the body must learn how to use this type of food and if you do a transition from kibble to raw make sure you do it over a few months to make sure it does not upset your dog’s intestines and/or stomach. You can slightly heat up or cook the food when first introducing real food to make sure your dog does not have stomach issues including vomiting, diarrhea, and/or gas, or continue to cook it slightly if do not feel comfortable feeding raw food to your dog. You do need to be careful if you decide to cook raw packaged food since there are normally bones in them and cooking bones and feeding them to your dog can cause the bones to become sharp and can cause damage to the intestines so just slightly heating the raw food with bones can make the transition a little easier or try a brand that does not have bones in it or add the bones in after heating the rest of the food.
Types of Food
There are so many different companies making fresh food now. Make sure to do some research to find one that you like, and that your dog will like. You want to make sure they have good ingredients and do not have a lot of fillers or proinflammatory foods. There is also dehydrated food available now. This can be a great transition food from kibble to raw if that is what you want to end up feeding or just feed the dehydrated food. You do need to add water to the dehydrated food before feeding it, but it is close to feeding fresh food just follow the directions on the package.
Switching to a Healthy Dog Food
When switching foods make sure to do it over a few weeks or if your dog has any disease or is older this should be done over a few months. Start with adding just a little bit of the new food and take away that same amount of the old food. See how your dog reacts and if there is any stomach upset including vomiting, diarrhea, and/or gas back off the new food for a few days and then try adding in a little bit more of the new food. Anytime you increase the amount of new food wait a few days to a week and if the dog tolerates it then increase the amount of new food and decrease the old food until you are done with the old food and your dog is tolerating the new food well enough to stop giving the old food.
Switching Dog Food
If you have any questions about switching foods, how fast or slow to switch food, talk to your veterinarian. Different veterinarians have different views on food so make sure to talk to your vet about your goals for the food you want to feed your dog and their recommendations for your dog according to their age, breed, activity level, and any disease(s) they might have.
Foods to Feed If Your Dog Has Any Disease
Most diseases have different recommendations for what ingredients are best if your dog has a certain disease and things to stay away from. If you are cooking or preparing food yourself you should talk to a veterinary nutritionist to make sure you are feeding the correct foods and have the correct supplements, vitamins, and minerals that are needed to help keep your dog healthy. Make sure to check out my article on Toxic Food for Dogs to make sure you do not feed anything that can cause harm to your dog. The food does not need to be perfect every day, but you do not want to be missing key ingredients for long periods. This can potentially cause problems, but it is not hard to make dog food on your own.
Adding Fresh Food
No matter what type of food you feed your dog it is a good idea to add some fresh food to their diet to help keep them healthy. You don’t have to even buy extra food. You can give them the scraps of food that you were going to throw away. The broccoli stems, tops of strawberries, tops of tomatoes, leaves of cauliflower, the top of zucchini or squash, among others. Make sure to not feed them anything that might make them sick. Make sure to check out my article on Toxic Food for Dogs for which foods to not feed. Another great reference for adding fresh food to your dog’s diet is Dr. Pitcarin’s Compete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
How Much Food to Feed Your Dog
Whatever type of food you decide to feed your dog make sure you do not feed them too much. Most bags of food advise you to feed a specific amount of food based on the weight of the dog and if you feed that much every day your dog would become obese. These measurements are based on active dogs and most house dogs are not that active and therefore do not need that many calories. If you are switching to new food and your dog is at an ideal weight, then start with how much you are currently feeding and watch them for weight gain or loss and adjust as needed. Make sure you are measuring the food, so you know how much you are feeding and can decrease or increase as needed easily. Normally in the winter when dogs are less active, you should feed them a little less.
Obesity in Dogs
Most dogs are overweight or obese and for them to live long happy lives they do need to be on the thinner side. Did you know how much fat is on the outside of their ribs there is that much fat around their heart making the heart work harder, work less efficiently, and the lungs do not have as much room to take in oxygen? If you have concerns about food, always talk to your veterinarian before changing the brand, type, or amount of food to make sure it is not going to harm your dog.
For more information on food check out my article on Healthy Cat Food to get more information or if you have a cat at home too.