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Feeding Your Dog A Healthy Balanced Diet

Less than 4 decades ago, most dogs were fed on table scraps and food that was not considered fit for humans. Now, in 2002, we find a pet food market that is positively bursting with science diets, anti-fat diets, puppy, adult, junior, oap diets and just about every conceivable concoction or formula to keep Fido in the best of health. How are we supposed to know who's brand is best suited for our pets or why we should or should not feed particular diets to certain individual dogs?

There is no single dietary regime that could be considered suitable for EVERY dog. Like most things in life, with dog food you do tend to get what you pay for so choosing a reputable brand is important if you decide you would like the convenience of feeding a complete food. It is always a good idea before choosing a food to have to bear these factors in mind

  • Your dogs exact weight
  • Activity level
  • Previous food sensitivity
  • Coat condition
  • Age

An advantage to feeding a dry food is as opposed to meat is that it will help to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy. This doesn't mean you shouldn't feed meat though. Many, many dogs are much happier, healthier and in generally tip-top condition when they are fed on a diet of raw tripe, lamb, beef or a meat based stew of some sort.

Meat is the natural food of the carnivore. Canines, unlike felines, can eat a wide variety of foods such as vegetables and some fruits. There are tales of escaped dogs that have survived in the wild on a diet of berries, rotten apples and pears. As responsible dog owners, our dogs shouldn't have to just survive. 

With the pet food market as it is today, there is no reason whatsoever why you shouldn't be able to find the perfect balanced diet for your dog. There is a formula by one manufacturer of another that will have designed especially for the stage of life and lifestyle of your dog.

Things to check for:

Make sure that protein ratios in your dog's food are compatible with their lifestyle. Working dogs need a higher protein diet whilst in work and a maintenance level whilst resting. Typically, protein levels in complete food range from 20 to 30% you may find your dog is better suited to a very low protein diet of somewhere in the region of 16%.

Make no mistake. DIET AFFECTS BEHAVIOUR IN DOGS. If you are suffering with a completely unruly pooch, reviewing their diet could be a step in the right direction.

Never overfeed your dog. Dogs do not have the same eating habits as humans. He may look hungry when he puts his paw on your lap and dribbles all the way down your leg but that's because he knows you will probably give him something for doing it, not because he really is starving. Give your dog treats by all means but do it by simply giving very small portions of the food he normally eats and legislate for this when you feed his main meals. Overfeeding is one of the biggest killers in dogs and can cause untold pain and suffering in later life. If you feel you must feed table scraps, counter it by feeding less in the dogs's main meals. Never, ever feed chocolate as it is a toxin to dogs and has been known to kill through poisoning.

When switching dog foods, do it gradually over a week by increasing the ratio of new food to old food. This will help avoid digestive upsets. Avoid oversupplementing your dog’s diet with vitamins and minerals. Excess dietary supplements cause nutritional imbalance and medical disorders. Some vitamins and minerals are toxic in high dosages. 

Summary:

The barrage of pet food companies competing against each other to provide the perfect complete dog food is great for dog owners. If feeding a complete food, go with a brand, not just because it has a shiny bag, clever T.V commercial or advertisers heavily in the dog press (you will actually pay for the that in the price of the food). Go with the brand that provides the best food for your dog. If it's expensive, that's life. You will get what you pay for and dog food is no different. Natural food is a perfectly acceptable means of feeding but be prepared for the extra work in preparing the food and the cost will probably work at more if you are feeding the right things. Don't be afraid to feed a varied diet but at the same time, don't chop and change for the sake of it or because a new product is a few pence cheaper. If your dog has a health skin and coat and is energetic, well behaved (reasonably) and is given top marks from his regular vet check ups then you must be feeding him right. Alternatively, if any of these traits are not what they should be in your dog, his diet is unusually the first place to start looking for a remedy.

Copyright ©  2002 - 2010 G.Double.  All rights reserved.
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