Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend. Don’t you think they deserve nothing but the best?
As a pet owner, you have a responsibility to treat them right and with kindness. Just like people, our dogs need proper care, comfortable shelter, regular visits to the doctor for check-ups and vaccines, love, respect, and a nutritious meal at the very least.
Statistically speaking, around 40% of dogs are suffering from obesity, according to this article. Worse, dogs can even die of cancer. They may also suffer from liver diseases, heart ailments and kidney failure.
If you’re shaken by the reality of pet health, now is the time to pay close attention to their diet. Being knowledgeable about these things can save you lots of money and spare your pets from distress.
Let us discuss some things that you should know about dog food.
Effect of “fast food’ diet
Our dogs have almost the same genetic makeup with us humans and most likely we share the same nutritional requirements. Therefore, commercial dog food must be thoroughly checked before buying. Know what is best for your dog and his needs before you buy or decide for their food.
Buy brands that you trust because most edible pet products are saturated with fats, which can make them prone to diseases. Many processed foods are loaded with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), preservatives, additives and coloring that can trigger health problems.
Let us do away with “fast food thinking” – or the tendency to prefer instant food in order to save time and energy.
What your friendly veterinarian is trying to sell or prescribe when it comes to dog food might not always be accurate nor the best option. Most often, your pet doctors would offer a product that is tied up with a certain pet food company or what sales representatives are trying to sell them. They might even get a profit from the product.
It might be a good idea to ask the vet if he/she has a dog, and if he / she feeds the pet with the same food prescribed for your dog.
Feeding your dog with human food
If you think there is nothing wrong with feeding your dog with the same food that you eat, you may be wrong on so many levels! The degree of importance we give to our own choice of food should also apply to our dogs. Healthy food should be on top of the list.
People need to eat nutritious and fresh food, but so do our dogs. Don’t just serve them stale or leftover food.
Sure, some of the food products that people eat may also be good for dogs. However, we just need to know some of the restrictions and the small differences when it comes to nutritional needs. For starters, chocolate, grapes, onions, raisins, wheat and corn are not safe for consumption by dogs.
The product label is your friend
Be warned: Some commercial dog food products are recycled from dead meat of animals. When the label says it contains “4-D” meat, it only means that it contains meat from dead animals who might have met an accident, suffered from a disease, or died through euthanasia. These meat components may be combined with grains from mill sweepings and other throw away ingredients from the market and the slaughter house.
Manufacturers may display an ad saying that their product is good for our dogs, but let the label speak for their product.
How is it priced
Our dogs deserve the highest quality of food that we can give, but unfortunately that’s going to be costly on your part. Simply put, if you love your dogs, price should not be a hindrance to you.
Fine print and warnings
We often see warnings on labels of both human and animal food products. The use of these labels is controlled and regulated by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). Therefore, when a company claims that their product is good for your pets and the label says “clinically proven” or “veterinarian recommended”, it’s a guarantee that their product is good and not just part of a marketing strategy.
Here are some terms that you may find on dog food labels, and their respective definitions:
- Clinically tested: Experiments and tests were performed on animals using the product, but there’s not telling whether the results were good or bad. There’s no guarantee that the product is really good.
- Clinically proven: The product has undergone scientific tests and has passed specifications. It also shows that the product has been tried on animals with favorable results before being introduced to the market. This statement is stronger than clinically tested.
- Complete and balanced: This is not synonymous to “maximum quality”, but it shows a certain level of quality. This term implies that the product has met health standards to make it safe for the typical dog. In addition, tests conducted are limited to a certain number of subjects over a short period of time only.
Check the ingredients
Animal by-product meal. Meat by-product meal. Animal fat. If you see one of these indicated on the label, it means the product is from recycled products and wastes, and may compromise the health and safety of your dog. Just imagine the contaminants and pests that accompany the recycled ingredients, in addition to the toxic chemicals and waste materials that go with it.
Corn may be harmful
This is not the same corn that we eat on our tables, but rather feed corn provided for cattle but not safe for dogs. This is a common ingredient in some dog food products responsible for a higher risk of obesity and diabetes in dogs.
Most common health issues concerning dogs involve dental diseases. Dogs are given hard treats like kibble on the belief that it will also clean their teeth, leading some dog owners to do away with brushing their dogs’ teeth. This myth can only lead to dogs suffering from mouth/teeth diseases and you losing a fortune to your vet.
Facts on kibble
Speaking of kibble, how safe is it for your dog? Kibble is a dry-cooked meal that is exposed to heat multiple times in order to preserve it. Production of kibble usually undergoes artificial preservation.
It has been reported to cause broad-chested canines to experience kidney and bladder issues, as well as dehydration. Between kibble and canned foods, the latter has less risk, but nothing beats fresh ingredients.
Nutrition requires variation
Feeding your dog the same food meal after meal and day after day is unhealthy. If that particular food item has low nutrient content, your dog may suffer from nutrient deficiency.
Just like people, dogs also need variety. You have to introduce new types of food gradually to enable them to adjust to the variation and prevent gastrointestinal upset in the gut of your dog.
Foods that are dangerous to dogs
- Avoid feeding your dogs cooked bones and skin chews, because these increase the risk of sending your dog to the emergency room for surgery due to blockages in the throat and other digestive organs.
- Some common foods like chocolate, onions, Xylitol, onions, raisins and grapes are deadly to dogs if swallowed, while wheat-based goodies can give them allergies.
Remember: A little knowledge on how to feed and what to feed your pet dog to achieve optimum health can go a long way!