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I want my dog to be at a healthy weight. Should they be a vegan to maintain weight?

To Vegan or not to VeganDogs are omnivores, meaning they can eat many types of food, and live healthy and full lives. Dogs are a lot like people when it comes to nutrition. Vegetables, meats and grains can all be a part of a balanced canine diet. Age, activity level and ideal weight are the three main factors you should assess when determining what to feed your best friend, but you should not rule out preference altogether for your pet. What if your parents made you eat food you did not like as a child and never gave you a break? What if, as an adult, someone else mandated what you were allowed to eat? More than likely, we would not be happy campers. Well, our pets are very similar and those of us close to our creatures can tell stories about Ralphie turning his nose up at this food and walking away, or Scout overturning the actual food bowl resulting in a landslide.

Consulting with your veterinarian is a good idea when choosing vittles for your little ones. They can help you determine which food brands might be good for your dog’s health needs and personal preferences, while keeping in mind your budgetary must haves. Small breeds, like yorkies, with low levels of activity need fewer calories while larger, more active breeds require more calories. Lap dogs will need less food than hunting dogs. After a long day at the beach you and your family can put away all three of those pizzas you ordered, but if it rained and you stayed inside playing board games you would probably only need one pizza pie.

Also, do not be fooled by labels such as “natural,” “organic” or “healthy.” These are misnomers and do not mean much. A company can just put these words on their packaging with no fear of recourse (as of right now until legislation is changed.) The best course of action is to look at what is actually IN the food; the ingredients on the label. If the first ingredient is “corn” or “corn meal” then the food is mostly carbohydrate filled fuel and is more than likely lacking in proteins, especially since the first ingredient listed on any kind of food is always the main ingredient.

Another very healthy option that is rising in popularity is making your dog’s food yourself. This is usually chicken, rice and green beans- sometimes carrots. No seasoning is best. Dogs love this! Of course, but it does take a lot of time. Pet owners who do this most times cook large batches and freeze what they do not use for the week. Depending on how much your dog eats, this can also get expensive. Watch out for food allergies with this one too.

It will be apparent when your dog is thriving under their diet regimen. It will also be obvious if you need to make a change. If you need to make a change, do this gradually. If this is not done delicately and deliberately, major health problems and concerns such as vomiting, nausea and diahhrea may occur. It is recommended that you give your dog 75% old food mixed with 25% new food for a few days, followed by a 50-50 mix for another few days then, a mix of 25% old with 75% new before phasing out the old food altogether.

Something to think about regarding your pet and food has to do with table scraps or “people” food. We love our animals so much that they become part of our families, and we treat them accordingly. It does not stop with how we feed them. However, there are many foods that can be harmful, even fatal, to dogs. Here are some basic guidelines to get you started. Dogs cannot eat salt. Salty foods can cause excessive thirst and urination which lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high temperature, and seizures. Canines cannot eat fruit seeds or cores like those in apples, pears, persimmons, peaches and plums. Persimmon seeds may cause inflammation of the small intestine, while apple and pear seeds, and peach and plum pits contain cyanide which can be poisonous to both humans and dogs. Your dog can, however, eat the meaty part of fruit in strawberries, blueberries, bananas and kiwis. These can be a deliciously sweet treat!

Dogs should not eat yeast because it will swell inside and stretch the abdomen causing severe pain. Fermentation also occurs to make it rise, producing alcohol which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Dogs can eat cooked pasta.

Contrary to popular belief, bones and fat trimmings are not good for your dog and can lead to pancreatitis, but dogs can eat tuna. Everybody knows dogs cannot eat chocolate, but did you know they can eat carob?

In closing, don’t use your beloved pet as a garbage disposal. They will live longer lives and you will have smaller vet bills.

The best thing about hiring a pet sitter is we can cook and even sing or dance for your pets.  Well maybe not dance.  Call Jackie our friendly pet manager, aka Director of Operations at 770-695-3096 and ask her what pet sitting is all about and how it can benefit you and your pets.

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