Responsible dog owners take nutrition seriously. They read the ingredients list on new pet foods, check their dog’s weight and monitor his condition regularly. But it's folly to focus on the nutrient content alone, as there is another important factor when it comes to choosing the right food. The texture of his food plays a crucial role in your dog’s health and his enjoyment of what he eats.
Dogs are attracted to food primarily based on its scent. However, in terms of palatability and health, texture plays a crucial role. An unpleasant or unappealing texture may cause the dog to ignore the food, regardless of its scent. This results in the dog missing out on crucial nutrients. Similarly, a texture that is rewarding for the dog attracts him to a certain food that he would otherwise ignore based on its taste or smell. A good example of this behavior is the chewing of bones. There is little nutritional benefit to the dog, but the texture of the bone is rewarding enough to merit many repeat behaviours, as most pet owners can no doubt testify.
Commercial pet food, while designed to deliver the required nutrients, often falls short when it comes to texture. Canned food is soft and sloppy and kibble is dry. It is up to owners to introduce other textures, such as crunchy vegetables and chewy meat, to compensate for the lack of variety provided by a standard commercial diet. Compared to what a dog would eat in the wild - typically carcasses with fur, feather, bones, partially digested vegetation and of course, flesh - commercial pet food lacks texture and may become boring for the dog.
Not only does a variety of textures make feeding time more interesting for your dog, it also provides health benefits. The abrasive texture of bones and good quality kibble remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. Roughage in the form of crunchy vegetables aids digestion and as part of a calorie-controlled diet, can promote weight loss in obese pets.
Canned pet food and a handful of kibble is certainly convenient and in most cases, will satisfy your dog’s nutritional needs, but it isn’t difficult to add a variety of new textures to your dog’s diet to mix it up. A handful of flax seeds sprinkled over his breakfast adds a new texture sensation and delivers an extra dose of omega-3. Some raw carrots or leftover cooked vegetables add crunch to that soft canned food. Brown rice is a good source of fiber and also adds a new dimension to your dog's typical meal.
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