Your canine friend may walk on four legs, talk a different language and lick his own feet, but when it comes to diet he’s just like you. Like humans, dogs have certain general dietary guidelines they should follow to maintain their health. Make sure your dog is getting all he needs to lead a long and healthy life alongside you.
Know Your Labels
Ensure dog food has the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ stamp of approval, which means it is considered an adequate source of nutrients. Avoid any brands that list animal byproducts as an ingredient, as these have no nutritional value. Make sure the meat is the first or second ingredient listed. Avoid foods that say flavored or infused, such as chicken-flavored kibbles, as this typically indicates no actual meat and the use of chemicals. Find a food that not only lists a meat as one of the first ingredients, but also includes one or two vegetables.
Making food at home for your canine companion is one way to ensure he receives suitable nutrients. An easy rule to follow is a meal composed of 40 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent vegetables. For example ground beef, brown rice and chopped broccoli is one easy meal. Do not flavor foods, always debone meats, chop foods to appropriate size for your dog and cook thoroughly. Purchase a general daily dog vitamin supplement to provide along with homemade meals to provide for the best nutrition possible.
Overfeeding or underfeeding can result in poor health on both sides of the spectrum. If you purchase store-bought food, follow the directions precisely with regard to your dog’s weight. If you choose to make food at home, you can refer to dog food labels at your local pet store for an idea of how much your pooch needs. When in doubt, visit your vet to get a recommendation of adequate food amounts based on your dog’s specific breed and activity level.
Treats are another thing to consider when planning your dog’s diet. While they may seem like small portions, a little treat loaded in fats and chemicals can harm your canine over time. Stick with treats that contain a lot of fiber and little to no fats, again avoiding flavored treats or those with animal byproducts. One option to ensure optimal health is to use small cut up veggies as treats, or pieces of whole grain cereal with no sugar coating or artificial sweeteners.
No two dogs are alike, and as such their diets may need to be differed too. Select foods made specifically for your dog’s age level, as they contain more or less of the nutrients your dog needs at this time in his life. If your dog has health issues, such as weak joints, allergies or sensitive stomach, there are specific kinds of foods catered to these ailments. They should be used accordingly.
As part of maintaining a healthy diet, you should watch for any signs that your dog’s diet is problematic. Initial signs can include vomiting, diarrhea and rash. All should be taken seriously, and you should visit your vet immediately, as these can be symptoms of allergies or food poisoning. Long term signs of a poor diet include obesity, lethargy and a lackluster coat. If you notice any of these signs, you should consult your vet who can help you determine what specific dietary adjustments need to be made.