Diet affects good health and well being. There exists no greater testament to this than the moments after Thanksgiving dinner, as we unbutton our slacks, and accept our gluttony. We've eaten too much, too rich, too heavy. Diet matters. It matters to us, and to our small canine friends.
If life, some certainties exist. When the dinner bell rings, your little dog will appear at his food bowl, tag wagging, ready to indulge. Small dogs have specific dietary needs, and when you consider that he may live long enough to be considered a teenager in human years, his bowl should contain the right food to keep him healthy into double-digit age. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, small-breed dogs require foods that are calorie dense to meet the needs of their higher metabolic rate. A small dog requires 40 calories per pound of body weight, whereas a larger breed dog requires far less.
All dogs, regardless of size and breed, have basic dietary needs. Your dog's food should contain proteins, grains and carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, which assist in the absorption of vitamins, and water. Read the ingredients. The further down the list the protein is, the smaller the amount of protein in the dog's food. Federal law requires each dog food manufacturer to list the ingredients in the order in which they are most prevalent. A pet food made specifically for small-breed dogs, with the right balance of these most important ingredients is a good place to start.
Finding What Works
Unless your little guy is fresh from his mother's womb, he's probably been eating dog food for some time. If you've adopted from a shelter, a rescue or from someone you know, ask about the food he's been eating. If your little dog's coat has a good appearance, and his potty breaks produce normal results, what he's been dining on might be working well for him. Most dogs can tolerate a change in dog food, and rotating your dog's food every three to four months can be a good idea, but feeding the same food when he's first adopted might be the right choice initially.
Greater than 10 percent of all allergies seen in dogs are food allergies. A change in behavior, such as excessive itching or gas, might mean your dog is allergic to something in his bowl, and finding out what that is will come down to a lot of trial and error. Some of the most common allergens include wheat and eggs, and such proteins as beef, chicken and pork. A raw diet might make it easier to eliminate what is troubling your dog, but feeding raw can be difficult. It is imperative to follow the instructions of a raw diet down to the last ingredient, to be certain your dog is getting the necessary balance and vitamins his body needs.
Ask the Vet
Your best canine pal, regardless of size and breed, should be seen by a vet immediately if his behavior changes. There is no one more highly qualified to determine what is best for your small dog's dietary needs. The sea of food choices is vast, and what food to choose isn't a matter of brand, how large and popular the company is, or even the product reviews. Dog food manufacturers produce food by the billions of pounds, but no one specific food is best for any small breed. Your dog is an individual and determining exactly what he needs to eat to be at his best is as important as the precious time you spend by his side.
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