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Posts Tagged ‘Dog Nutrition’

What Should a Dog Eat?

Monday, June 6th, 2016


What should a dog eat and how do you know if you’re giving your pet the best diet possible? There are so many different types of diets available for dogs today – dry food, canned food, raw meats, cooked meats, turkey, vegetables, and specialty blends.

The diet that you feed your dog will have an effect on its physical health, its weight, and the luster and health of its coat. If the diet you feed your dog lacks in needed vitamins and minerals, your dog can become restless, irritable, and tire easily. Certain foods can also cause dogs to become overly excited or nervous.

To be sure your dog is eating the healthiest diet possible, you need the right combination of vitamins and minerals as well as the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

Should a dog eat meat? Humans don’t need to eat meat to stay healthy but dogs do. A nutritious, well-balanced dog food should contain approximately 40% meat (to provide the protein), 50% vegetables, and 10% carbohydrates. If a dog’s diet is lacking in sufficient amounts of protein it can cause weight loss, muscle wasting and slow growth in younger dogs. A diet lacking in vegetables can lead to vitamin deficiencies, and carbohydrates are important to keep a dog’s thyroid functioning properly.

To maintain a healthy balance of the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids a dog needs for optimum health, select a dog food that contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as Vitamin B1, B6, and B12, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and choline.

There are twelve minerals that are critical to a dog’s health. These minerals are calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, Iodine, sodium, potassium, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese and selenium.

In addition, there are ten important amino acids dogs obtain from the food they eat that are necessary for correct body functioning. These amino acids are arginine, histidine, threonine, tryptophan, lysine, methionine, leucine, phenyalanine, valine and isoleucine. A dog needs these essential amino acids to build strong muscles and to control nerve impulses in its body.

A dog that does not receive sufficient vitamins, minerals and amino acids in its diet is susceptible to weakness, joint pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, increased heart rate, and enlargement of the thyroid gland.

There are other side effects of poor nutrition due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A deficiency in vitamin A can cause central nervous system depression and a deficiency of vitamin D can cause fatigue or exhaustion. A sodium deficiency can cause restlessness and a magnesium deficiency can cause irritability.

The best type of dog food your dog should eat is a high-quality, all-natural dog food containing adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. A nutritious dog food should not contain by-products or synthetic additives. Buy the best food you can afford for your dog and you may enjoy many more years together.

Low Carb Dog Food

Monday, March 21st, 2016


If your dog is substantially overweight or obese like one fourth of all dogs in the United States, you should begin feeding your pet a low carb dog food which can be beneficial to any overweight or obese pet.

Dogs are able to maintain an appropriate weight consuming almost any dog food on the market as long as they don’t over-indulge at mealtimes, are not fed too many treats and snacks at other times, and are getting enough exercise. But even for dogs who are not overweight or obese, a low-carb diet can help avoid health problems later in life.

Obese dogs are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and metabolic disorders. A low-carb diet is a necessity for dogs that are overweight and for dogs diagnosed with diabetes.

Dogs are omnivores which means they eat meat and vegetables, including fruits and grains. But considering the evolution of dogs who originated from the wolf, it makes sense that over-feeding your dog with grains like wheat and corn is not a good idea.

Dog’s bodies were designed for diets that are low in sugar and refined starches, and the high doses of carbohydrates a dog consumes when eating manufactured dog foods are not healthy. It may shock you to know that most commercial dog foods contain between 30% to 70% carbohydrates.

In addition to the high doses of carbs, many dog foods contain filler ingredients such as corn meal and starches. These ingredients, along with animal by-products which are the leftovers from other food processing, are unfit for human consumption. The reason they are added to dog food is to provide cheaper ingredients for the manufacturer and make a dog feel full faster without providing the nutrients a dog needs; something akin to fast food for humans.

Dog food ingredients you should try to avoid include wheat, corn, cornmeal, yellow corn and whole grain corn, brewer’s rice, cereals, and potatoes. All of these are filler ingredients that are very high in carbs.

There are many good brands of low-carb dog foods. Some come in the form of raw and dehydrated foods which are beneficial to a dog’s health because they are higher in nutrients. Several brands use entirely grain-free recipes as well as hormone-free turkey and meat.

Check for pet foods that are lower in carbs by examining the ingredients. Look for a low carbohydrate and high protein content in the food. Some of the ingredients to look for are beef, chicken, lamb, turkey or pork. Never give your dog any food containing “animal meal” or “animal fat.” This is a red flag for very poor-quality dog food.

Dog foods containing vegetables and fruits are also good for your dog and provide many of the nutrients missing in meat. Many low carb dog foods may also contain apples, bananas, cranberries, spinach, carrots, and celery.

Low carb dog foods with these ingredients are healthy for dogs in all stages of life, from puppies to senior dogs. Just remember to avoid all dog foods containing grains and buy those with real meat, fruits and vegetables.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Kidney disease in dogs can be caused by several factors; it can be a causal effect of the dog’s age, severe dehydration, a new or past trauma to the kidneys, or even tick borne diseases.

There are a lot of valuable pieces of information your veterinarian will be able to obtain from analyzing your dog’s urine sample if he suspects kidney disease. The vet will interpret the results of the urine test by reviewing the history of your pet, completing a physical exam – sometimes including blood work, and depending on the severity of the kidney disease, further testing may necessitate x-rays or ultrasound.

If obtaining a urine sample from your dog is difficult, try one of these different ways to collect the sample: The most common way to collect a sample from a larger dog is to use a clean, dry container, (you can even use an aluminum pie pan or cake pan, or a deep plastic dish that will hold the urine). After your dog has urinated, pour the sample into a clean container and seal it. Be sure to save the urine sample in a clean, dry container you can easily transport to your vet. The sample should be delivered to your veterinarian’s office immediately. If you are unable to deliver the sample immediately, refrigerate it but never freeze a dogs urine sample.

If your vet requires a sterile sample of urine to test for kidney disease you will need to take your dog to the vet’s clinic to undergo a procedure called “cystocentesis,”. The vet will insert a small needle directly into the dog’s bladder through the body wall. This procedure will not take long and will provide a sample uncontaminated by bacteria from anything outside the dog’s bladder, including its fur.

In addition to checking for kidney disease, a urinalysis will also provide information about your dog’s bladder, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

A complete urinalysis of your dog’s urine involves three steps:
1. Checking and recording the color, cloudiness, and how concentrated the urine is.
2. Completing a chemical analysis of the urine.
3. Centrifuging a small quantity of the urine sample and examining the sediment under a microscope.

Normal urine is amber-yellow in color and clear to slightly cloudy. Concentrated urine will be a darker yellow. White blood cells can also make the urine cloudy. If there is blood in the urine it will have a reddish-brownish shade.

Many of the chemical tests for kidney disease can be done using only a small quantity of urine. A dipstick is used to transfer a small amount of urine to special medical pads containing chemical reagents that test for a particular material in the urine. When the urine comes in contact with one of the reagents a chemical reaction occurs and the color of the pad will change based on how much of the substance is in the urine. The vet will then compare the pad with a color chart to determine approximately how much of the substance is in the urine. Some medications may interfere with the chemical tests causing false results and your veterinarian will need to know about any medications or supplements your dog is taking.

The following substances are just a few of the chemicals that are tested when performing a routine urinalysis to test for kidney disease:
Urine pH – (a reading of how acidic or alkaline the urine is).
Protein – (healthy dogs usually don’t have any protein in their urine, although sometimes trace amounts may be present but that is normal.
Glucose – (sugar in the blood being significantly higher than normal.
Ketones – (substances formed in the body during the breakdown of fats).
Bilirubin – (a pigment made by the liver from dead or dying red blood cells).
Urobilinogen – (Big word for a compound formed from bilirubin by intestinal bacteria).

Blood cells in the urine are normal, but a larger than normal quantity indicates a problem.

An examination of the urine sample under a microscope tests for several problems and larger than normal numbers of white blood cells may indicate inflammation from a bladder or kidney infection.

Kidney disease is a very serious health problem for dogs, just as it is for humans. If you are concerned that something is just not right with your dog, you definitely should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Are You Feeding Your Dog The Right Food?

Monday, December 10th, 2012


When you shop for dog food do you often wonder whether you are feeding your dog the right food or not?

It’s important that you get reliable advice about feeding your dog a healthy diet. If you’re like me, heading for the pet store to buy something healthy and nutritious for your pet dog can be a daunting experience. There are so many brands and types of dog food on the shelves and I don’t have hours to spend reading the long list of ingredients on every single bag.

When my dog was younger I faithfully followed the vet’s advice and paid higher-than-normal prices for my dog’s food purchased from the vet. As the years progressed and my dog’s taste buds seemed to change to encompass anything he could find to eat, I started shopping for his food at both the pet store and the grocery store. If I thought the pet store was a palace of confusion when shopping for his food, I wasn’t ready for the massive selection of dog food and treats vying for my attention from the grocery shelves. Perhaps “leering at me” is a better way to describe the cornucopia of selections at any supermarket I visited. And if you’ve ever shopped at a “super center” grocery, you have a good idea of how choosing what’s right for your dog becomes a massive chore.

When you’re shopping for food for your pet dog, take the time to discover what is REALLY in the can or bag of food you’re buying. Learn how to read the labels to protect your dog from ingredients that are of no value to your pet and may be injurious to its long-term health. Many ingredients in pet food have no nutritional value and are only added to create volume or add flavor when there is none from natural ingredients. Try to avoid products that have wheat or corn as their first ingredient. Meat or meat-by-products should be the first ingredient listed if you care about providing healthy, nutritional food for your pet.

Your loving pet deserves the same consideration you give yourself when deciding whether to buy or not buy a particular food item at the store. Feed your dog the right food by giving it only healthy products that will help it grow correctly. Feed your dog the healthiest food you can afford, and you’ll be rewarded by having your pet around a lot longer to keep you company.

Tasty New Dog Foods

Monday, June 13th, 2011


This is a great article published last week in The New York Times and we wanted to share it with all our readers who missed the opportunity to read it:

June 4, 2011 by Andrew Martin – NY Times

“ What a menu. Pan-seared duck with brown rice and blueberry compote. Roasted turkey with butternut squash and russet potatoes. Salmon with black-and-white quinoa.

Delicious – but this is not a new high-class New York restaurant – it’s dog food. Not mere Alpo, mind you — not by a long shot. And to prove it, a company called Petcurean Pet Nutrition, is offering a taste. If you’re wondering why anyone would even consider noshing on dog chow, you haven’t been to the Global Pet Expo here, where the impresarios of America’s thriving, multibillion-dollar pet economy profitably ply their wares. Even as the economy for us humans bogs down again, the pet economy has proved remarkably resilient to a weak housing market, high unemployment and those diminished 401(k)s.

The pet food industry has continued to grow through the current recession, albeit at a slower pace, and last year, Americans spent a record $55 billion on their pets, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts – more than the gross domestic product of Belarus.

Wherever the stock market goes — and lately, it has been going down — this nation seems to be in the thrall of a great bull market for pets. And high-priced, “human grade” pet food is only the beginning.

Pet owners, or “parents” in industry parlance, are being sold on human-style luxuries and medical care. There are stylish rain slickers, organic foods and even antidepressants for today’s pampered cats and dogs. If more evidence of this boom were needed, consider Neuticles, prosthetic testicles for neutered dogs and cats, at about $1,000 a pair, which, their designers say, help “your pet to retain his natural look, self-esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.”

The growth in the pet market last year was driven in part by a 7 percent increase in veterinary services. America’s pet population, like its human one, is living longer. Human medical technologies are increasingly being used for pets. Dogs’ and cats’ owners — particularly those without children at home — are taking better care of them, both medically and nutritionally, experts say.

“Pet owners aren’t just looking to provide a home for their pets,” says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. “They are investing in their pets’ quality of life. Oftentimes they do this at their own expense, cutting personal expenses, but not those affecting their faithful companions.”

Jessica Taylor, managing editor of Petfood Industry, says that when she started at the magazine four years ago, the pet food industry lagged human trends by a year or more. Now, it is just six months behind, or less. She predicts that blueberries and pomegranates, whose antioxidant wonders have been marketed to humans in recent years, will be the next big thing in pet food.

The pet industry has long considered itself recession-resilient, and it proved just that during the recent downturn, despite some bumps along the way. Sales growth of pet products slowed, particularly among “hard goods” like leashes and bowls. But they were still up — which is more than you can say for many industries. Analysts say the pet industry will continue to rebound, driven by demand for veterinary care and health-related products, including premium treats and chow for dogs and cats.

Expected demand for luxury pet products is strong enough to lure companies and even celebrities into the business. Among them: Martha Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Fisher-Price and General Nutrition Center, which now offers health supplements for pets.

Wall Street is bullish, too. Shares of PetSmart, the pet store chain, are hovering near a record high, at $43.46 a share. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company said same-store sales had increased 6 percent over the quarter a year earlier.

PetSmart’s main competitor, Petco, is privately owned and doesn’t publicly report its earnings. But Jim Myers, Petco’s chief executive, says his company did not have a single negative quarter throughout the recession. Fewer people traded up to more expensive items during the downturn, but he said they didn’t trade down, either, sticking with a “premium and higher-level range of food products.”

About 62 percent of American households have a pet, with dogs accounting for 40 percent of the total. Cats are second, at 34 percent. Dog and cat ownership has continued to grow slightly in recent years, even as the popularity of other types of pets, like birds, fresh-water fish and reptiles, has declined.

Canine Caviar Foods says it makes “the only alkaline-based dog food in America that was specifically designed to prevent cancer.” The ingredients include canned beaver, duck and venison tripe for dogs and cats, as well as a variety of “free-range, grass fed buffalo” treats for dogs. The Honest Kitchen is offering dog food with names like “Zeal” and “Verve” and lists the provenance of the ingredients. There is also organic, fair-trade quinoa from Bolivia and “wild, line-caught Icelandic haddock.” Its food is “gently dehydrated” to preserve it.

Hill’s Science Diet promotes prepackaged meals to help slim down tubby dogs and cats. American pets, it turns out, have weight problems just like many of their owners. Bravo Raw Diet is peddling raw food for pets, which, along with refrigerated pet food, is among the hottest trends in the business. Bette Schubert, a co-founder, says dogs that eat raw meat diets — much like their wild ancestors — are healthier than those that eat processed kibbles.

The idea of eating your dog food to prove its wholesomeness didn’t originate at the Global Pet Expo. Paul Newman sampled his organic dog food on “The Tonight Show” in 2006. The audience howled.

These days, pet food makers are eating their own products to make a point and close a sale, tasting all sorts of dog treats while tweaking recipes for products.

And for those dogs with a sweet tooth, you can buy cookies and microwaveable cakes for dogs.”

This abridged article was provided courtesy of The New York Times.

P.S.
Next time you have hunger pangs or yearn for a different and ‘exotic’ food, you might try tasting a bit of your dog’s diet – unless you’re feeding it an “el cheapo” brand of dog food.

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