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Feeding Your Dog Properly

In 2007, over one hundred dog food brands were recalled due to a tainted ingredient which was imported from China, making some dogs sick and killing others. We hear about dog food recalls on the news and salmonella has even become a concern for various dog food products.

A responsible pet owner has choices. They should be able to read the nutritional label on a can or bag of dog food and then read the ingredients and understand what is in that products and know if it is a product that is safe and provides the proper nutrition our omnivorous canines need. Vitamins and minerals can have long chemical names but don’t let words like “tocopherol acetate” or “cyanocobalamin” scare you; these are life-essential nutrients with its scientific name showing and nothing more. Canine parents can also opt to feed their dog with a well-balanced meal made at home.

The Question, any pet owner, should ask is what is a healthy, well-balanced diet for your dog?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) stamp shows an animal food has met some standards for dog nutrition and safety on dog food found on supermarket and pet superstore shelves.  It indicates only that the product has met the AAFCO’s strict guidelines for production and proper labeling only. While it is not foolproof, your closest guarantee to a safe food product is that stamped one that meets those transparency and safety standards.

Whether you buy commercial dog food or decide to prepare your dog’s meals at home, there are three things a dog requires in their diet. Dogs require protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.

The most important ingredient is protein. In the past, dogs primarily survived on a diet of meat.  They were largely carnivorous. They consumed large quantities of protein that is essential for energy and building muscle. Your dog is not concerned with the cut of meat or part of the animal it comes from. They only want and need the protein. Therefore a dog is properly fed and gets the right nutrition from parts of animals we’d not consider edible for ourselves. Dogs even love gizzards and offal, and they are cheap at the grocery store or butcher. Dogs benefit most from green tripe (the lining of a cow’s stomach), the liver, heart, and the kidneys. These internal organs are what for humans are typically considered food waste or special ingredients for ethnic dishes alone. These are extremely high in concentrated nutrients such as protein and iron and form an important piece of your dog’s lifetime development. These meat by-products and the parts we’d not normally eat are actually the best parts for a dog. Eggs and legumes are easily found at the store and are also good sources of protein. Meat and legumes or eggs should be combined for flavor and variety and to improve the nutritional level of protein if a meal is using more eggs or legumes than meat protein. A dog should not be fed a vegan or vegetarian diet. To ensure a canine has all essential amino acids is very difficult and therefore using meat is the optimal way to ensure your dog gets the proper nutrition.

Carbohydrates are the second ingredient that is need for a dog’s proper nutrition and is needed in smaller amounts than protein. High concentrations of carbohydrates used for energy are found in common cereal grains such as rice, wheat, corn, barley, and oats. Carbohydrates can be used in small amounts as fillers, or added with sources of vitamins and minerals with fiber as green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, celery, and broccoli, to name a few. Carrots and corn are also beneficial and carb-rich vegetables. Along with being a great source of carbohydrates and fiber, they also contain vitamin A and Beta-carotene, which is good for eyesight. Fiber is necessary for digestion. Fiber helps to act like a natural broom pushing food through the gastrointestinal tract and ensures nutrients are absorbed. Easily digestible carbohydrates are excellent sources of fiber. This category is mainly comprised of fruits that are part of your diet, such as apples, pears, and oranges. Never give your dog grapes or raisins in their food, as they are poisonous for canines. Ask your vet for nutrition advice regarding other fruits and vegetables. 

What should you avoid in home-prepared dog food?

If you know your dog has a food allergy, it is easy to know if there is anything you personally must not feed your pet. There are several foods that should not even be given to a dog

  • Raisins, onions, and garlic have been found to be toxic to dogs.
  • Yeast dough before baking can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing bloating, pain and possible rupture of the stomach.
  • Sugary foods can lead to obesity as they offer dogs no nutrition but many calories and can contribute to dental decay.
  • Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages or foods and beverages with the chemical compounds theobromine or theophylline can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous systems. Caffeine and canines just isn’t a good combo.

To keep your canine buddy at peak health and well fed ensure he gets plenty of high-quality protein and moderate amounts of carbohydrates and fiber in his diet. Even prescription diets from pet specialty stores can provide this type of quality nutrition and save you time, and some money over home-cooked dog meals. You can always include a home cooked dog meal a few times a week and use commercial dog food that is nutritionally balanced to provide variety. Make sure your dog has a long and quality life by feeding it healthy quality food. As always consult your veterinarian for your pets dietary needs. We are not nutritionists. We are a loving and caring pet sitting and dog walking. We can help keep your pets fit with a daily dog walk while your at work. Give the gift of exercise for your pet. Give 2 Paws Up Inc a call 770-695-3096, or send us an email morgan@2pawsupinc.com

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