Good health from good food
By Samantha Ryder
[About the writer: Samantha Ryder runs the successful blog, Dog Care Reviews (http://dogcarereviews.com). She has written several e-books on dogs. Her book on dog food recipes is for sale on the site.]
Feed the dog a diet rich in nutrients that is easy to digest. Do not over-feed him, as the dog may become obese.
A perfect diet for the dog is one which
- Is similar to what his ancestors fed on, in their natural environment
- Has a good balance of vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals and fluids
Clean water should be readily available for the dog, maybe from a water fountain attached conveniently. In summer place a slab of ice in the dog’s water dish, so that he has access to cool water.
Commercial dog food
There are four types of commercial dog food.
- Extruded: A well-balanced meal created by combining cereals, meat, minerals and vitamins, cooked in steam. The end product is cut into pieces and stored
- Complete: It provides complete nutrition
- Flaked: Separately cooked cereals and meat are combined together to create flaked dry food
- Complementary: This type of food is combined with another complementary food to provide the dog a balanced diet
Commercial dog food is available as canned dog food, moist packed food or dry dog food. All readymade dog food that you buy should contain the AAFCO endorsement and animal feeding trials should be listed on the label.
AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which is responsible for ensuring the quality and adequacy of pet foods. AAFCO sets guidelines for performing feeding trials. That means, the food is actually fed to a target group and tested. The product gets AAFCO certification, once the food is found to be safe for the target group.
Home-made dog food
Meals prepared at home should contain fresh, high quality ingredients combined and cooked to create a nutritionally balanced meal. Many dog owners prefer a healthy mix of home made and commercial food to create the dog’s meal.
Ingredients to avoid when preparing the dog food are alcoholic beverages and stems, seeds and leaves of apples, cherries, peaches and plums. Other ingredients to be avoided are
- Chocolate and coffee
- Grapes and raisins
- Maize and Avocados
- Moldy or spoiled food
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Small bones – Large bones that do not splinter easily and cannot be swallowed whole are safest
- Onions and Macadamia nuts
(Diary products can be given in moderation)
In spite of taking the utmost care to provide superior quality meals, your dog may fall ill after consuming food. The chief reason for this would be food allergies dogs have. These allergies are different for different dogs.
Allergies in dogs are significantly due to hormonal imbalances. Yet, allergies are also caused by preservatives or additives in dog foods and sometimes by certain types of high protein food.
Food additives that are usually found to cause allergy are Ethoxyquin, BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
These are added to increase the shelf life of foods and to preserve fat content in them. Other preservatives that tend to cause allergies in dogs are sodium nitrate and nitrite and propylene glycol.
Allergic symptoms range from mild to severe as the following list will tell you
- The dog’s nose has less pigmentation
- Eyes water all the time
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of hair and sheen on the coat
- Sporadic ruptures on the skin
- The dog appears tired and listless
- Indications of liver and kidney problems
It makes sense to avoid commercial dog food that has one or more of these additives. The right precautions in planning a dog’s meal ensure that he leads a long and healthy life.
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