Dog Nutrition

by Alessia

We love our dogs and want to make sure that they live long, healthy lives as part of our family. Here is dog nutrition in a nutshell, from A to Z.

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Apples. Apples are great for your dogs in the same way that they are for humans due to their great insides. However, the seeds contains cyanide which cannot be filtered out in their systems, and too many apples could lead to diarrhea and/or weight gain due to sugar content.

Bones. Most people know this, but a surprising number of dog and non dog owners do not – bones are bad for dogs no matter what type they are if they aren’t prepared correctly. Poultry bones are especially dangerous because they splinter, but when slow cooked for many hours, they soften up and are edible. Beef and pork bones can be inproperly prepared as well – when safe for dogs they should be rock hard and shatter-proof.

Canned, wet food vs. bagged, dry food. Canned food tends to be a more low calorie, low carb option with more protein and actual meat. Dry food normally contains meat byproducts (though our dogs are not as picky as we are), and can often be good if the wet food from the same company is highly nutritious. Wet is usually a little more expensive, but dry is easier to store. Go with what your pet likes to an extent, but also keep in mind that the urge to chew is granted with kibbles, tarter can be knocked off of their teeth, and if they have missing teeth, kibble could damage their gums. All factors considered, you can still provide your dog healthy meals as long as you research.

Drink. It is recommended that your pooch drink an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. Lucas weighs 35 pounds, so that’s 35 ounces of water that he should be drinking. Dogs will normally regulate their own water intake and keep themselves hydrated as long as they have clean, fresh water in their bowl. If your dog is not drinking or you see an increase in water intake, contact your vet just in case.

Eggs. Just like they are great for humans, they are for dogs. They’re packed with protein and vitamins, and some say it’s okay to give your dog raw eggs (the yolk contains biotin) and even the shells because salmonella in dogs is extremely rare. When in doubt, scramble them up, but they’re great for your pooch.

Fish. Boneless, cooked fish is full of protein and great for your dog. While some say that sushi and raw chunks of fish are great for canines, there are tiny bones and scales on raw fish that could pose a threat to a dog’s digestive system, or make them choke.

Grains. Grains, especially rice, are great for a dog’s digestion. Some may have gluten allergies, just like humans, which could cause itchy skin or inflamed ears, so look out for these symptoms if your dog eats wheat or rice. Oats and barley are other options for dogs with this issue.

How much/often to feed. As long as your dog is energetic and trim, he is probably eating the right amount of food per day. Overweight dogs can incur some of the same problems as overweight humans, so it is important to keep their diet under control. It is tempting to feed your dog to show love, but if you indulge him too much, he could be taking in way too many calories for a pooch his size, age, or weight. Adult dogs should eat a morning and evening meal per day, but you can consult your vet for puppies.

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Ice cream. Dogs are lactose intolerant in the same way that humans are – it varies from dog to dog. But also like humans, they love dairy. A spoonful of ice cream or frozen yogurt every now and then won’t hurt your pooch, but keep it just at that. Make sure that the ice cream does not contain harmful ingredients such as chocolate, some nuts, coffee, etc.

Jerky. Chicken and beef jerky has been found to contain some harmful ingredients (melamine-tainted gluten) when coming from China, and recalls have been issued, but dogs go wild for jerky, so you can find a safe one, or even a human jerky that isn’t spicy or flavored as a once in a while treat.

Kibble. Dry food is actually very easy to make, and recipes are all over the internet. If your dog has certain nutritional needs and you have some extra time, you can make your pooch kibble with the exact ingredients that would benefit him, and you would know that there weren’t any filters. It can be stored in the freezer for a long time, and you can rest easy knowing what is in your dog’s food bowl.

Labels and how to read them. Just like with human food, terms like “gourmet”, “natural” and “organic” do not mean that the food is automatically healthy for you. Reading the label can save your dog from inhaling a bowl of food full of fillers and additives. The first few ingredients on the list are going to be the most prevalent ingredients in the food, so make sure you know what you are purchasing.

Mold. Both humans and dogs can be allergic to mold, i.e. moldy bread, but a little bit of mold won’t hurt your pooch, so don’t freak out if he gets himself into something in the garbage that he shouldn’t have.

Nuts. Walnuts and macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, so make sure they cannot get into anything containing those two. Peanuts and cashews are fine, but they should be a once in a while treat.

Organic food. Organic food is great because it does not contain pesticides, food colorings, synthetic preservatives, and other fillers, just whole grains, and human-grade protein  sources. Pet foods are certified as organic based on the same scale as human foods, so read the fine print to make sure you are getting what your dog needs. Besides the expense, organic is a good way to go as long as it really is organic.

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Pumpkin. A couple of teaspoons for puppies or tablespoons for adults of cooked pumpkin a day is a miracle worker for the digestive tract. Diarrhea or constipation issues can be solved with pumpkin in the diet, because it contains a lot of fiber and is then turned into vitamin A. This is also something great to add to some rice to feed your dog if they have ingested something they should not have, and you need them to “dispose” of it quickly.

Quick tip! If your dog tried to chew on electrical wires, use a mixture of rubbing alcohol and hot sauce (or a store bought anit-chew spray) to deter them. This mixture works on anything you don’t want your dog to chew, though some houses, like mine, would be covered head to toe in hot sauce if this were the case. Choose your battles.

Raw meats. All raw meat carries the risk of microbes, parasites, bones, and salmonella poisoning. These are risks posed to both humans and dogs. Debates continue about “pristine” raw meats for dogs that are packed with protein, but most humans don’t have access to this type of meat. If you want to go this route with your dog’s food, like many are, make sure you are buying the highest grade of meat possible, looking out for bones, and keeping an eye on your pooch’s overall health after the change in diet.

Supplements. Normally the need for supplements are determined by your vet, for example, if your dog is on a meatless diet or has digestive issues with certain foods. If your dog is energetic and getting his nutrition from good meals, chances are that a supplement is unnecessary as they could potentially do more harm than good depending on their ingredients.

Treats. All dogs deserve treats now and again, and treats are amazing for training, but like humans, too many treats can lead to a high caloric intake and weight issues. Though it is common to want to smother your adorable little pup with food as a form of love, a hug or rustle of his fur can satisfy the urge to show your love as well. When choosing snacks for your dog, make sure to read the labels and choose treats with high nutritional value and not too much salt or fat.

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Use measuring cups. Serving sizes for food is on the food package, or can be specified by your vet. Use a measuring cup when feeding your dog rather than eyeballing it, because your eyes could be bigger than your dog’s stomach. Keep his diet in check so that you have a healthy, energetic pooch on your hands, not a chunky, overweight, and sleepy dog who cannot control his own nutrition.

Vegetarian diets. Dogs are true omnivores who get most of their essential vitamins and proteins from meats, but if you are going the vegetarian route, you must be committed to providing your dog with a healthy diet. Eggs are a great meat substitute, and for vegans, legumes and brown rice are great. Let your vet know if a vegetarian or vegan diet will be your route with your pooch so that he is in the know and can make sure that vitamin or nutritional deficiencies won’t be an issue.

Weight matters. Obesity is one of the largest issues in dogs, leading to joint and other problems. If you notice more fat around your dog’s rib cage, a round belly, or any other unusual jiggly parts, consult your vet and get your dog on a stricter diet to head off any issues that can be caused by being overweight.

X out these foods. There are a lot of things that your pooch can’t eat that you love, but here are a few: avocados, alcohol, baking soda and powder, caffeine, chives, chocolate, corn cobs, fruit pits and seeds, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts and walnuts (see “Nuts”), milk and milk-based products, mushrooms, nutmeg (and other spices), onions, raisins, rhubarb leaves, tomatoes (especially stems and leaves), xylitol (found in many candies and gums), and yeast dough.

Yucca. The roots of this plant is a natural miracle worker for dogs with aching joints or inflammation. A quarter teaspoon ground up into your dog’s food can help as an anti-inflammatory, alleviate pain from hip dysplasia and arthritis, and can calm itchy skin caused by allergies. Ask your vet about suggested doses.

Zinc. If a pooch with a balanced diet gets too much zinc (from either a supplement, or a penny minted after 1982, which is filled inside with zinc) vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia can occur and be diagnosed by your vet. Zinc toxicity can lead to kidney failure, so it is important to get your pooch to the vet right away if they ingest something with zinc.

Phew, deep breath. A lot of information, but a lot of important information. We want to give our pals the healthiest lives possible through good dog nutrition, so a little bit of reading won’t hurt! If you research any of these topics more in depth and find anything of value to add, please share below!

Alessia xx

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