Dog Food Tips

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How does a dog adjust to changes in dog food?

Better Food, Less Mess

To get your canine the healthiest he can be, consider feeding him a high quality natural dog food that is typically found at a specialty pet store or online.

Because these foods have less preservatives and fillers, your pet will excrete less waste. That makes clean-up quicker and easier. Your canine will enjoy a healthier, more nutritious diet and you have less mess to deal with!


What makes them different?

Proponents of super-premium dog foods offer some strong arguments in favor of paying extra for better food. They argue that it's better for the dog and can end up being cheaper in the long run than serving bargain kibble. Why? According to Good Dog Magazine, there's so many more nutrients in super-premium foods that you can actually feed the dog much less food to get him basic nutritional requirements. Testing done by the magazine showed that super-premium foods from brands like Nature's Variety and Merrick dog food offered an average of 27 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat, while bargain foods offered only 20 percent and 8 percent respectively. So even though the super-premium food costs more to start, you end up with a lower cost per-meal because of the higher nutritional power. What else makes them different? There's the flavor. It's no secret dogs like meat. Anything with a higher meat content and smell is going to be a big hit with the four-legged members of the house.

Can I cook for my dog?

Good Old Home Cooking

A healthy alternative to feeding your dog commercial dog food is to cook it yourself. This way, you'll know exactly what your dog is eating he won't be consuming meat by-products and preservatives that are in many commercial dog foods.

You can try some of the following to see what you canine likes:

• Ground turkey, Chicken wings and thighs
• Brown Rice
• Vegetables such as carrots, corn, peas, and squash
• Most nuts (excluding macadamia nuts, which is toxic to your dog)
• Oatmeal

Avoid onions, garlic, sugary foods and salt. If you keep your food list simple and are consistent, you'll find that home cooked meals are an inexpensive way to keep your dog healthy and resistant to disease.

How much should I feed my large breed puppy?

Don't Overfeed Large Breed Puppies

It is important to avoid overfeeding puppies of large breeds such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, and Alaskan Malamutes. Large breeds are typically at risk for skeletal diseases such as hip dysplasia. Overfeeding and excess weight can increase the stress on the skeletal system. You can use the following guidelines when feeding your puppy:

• A 10 lb. puppy should get 850 calories a day
• A 20 lb. puppy should get 1,400 calories a day
• A 30 lb. puppy should get 1,800 calories a day
• A 50 lb. puppy should get 2,700 calories a day

Each puppy is an individual and has different specific needs. Always watch your puppy's weight and adjust her feeding amounts accordingly.

What is the best way to help my dog to lose weight?

Obesity in Dogs

Your dog is likely obese if you can't see a difference between his ribcage area and his abdomen. Dogs become overweight due to lack of exercise, overeating, and occasionally a genetic tendency for extra pounds.

To fix your dog's pudginess, put him on a food diet and increase the amount of his exercise. Go for longer walks, play that extra game of fetch, and limit the amount of treats.

Be consistent and patient. It may take a while for you to see some results, but your canine's health is worth the time and effort.

What is the history of dog food?

History of Dog Food

Up until the 19th century, hunting dogs and sheep dogs often ate a bread meal composed of wheat, barley, or rye. They were offered meat on rare occasions as this was considered an optional part of a dog's diet.

During the 19th century, meat symbolized status among people in industrialized societies and dogs began to eat meat as a result.

The very first dog food was a dog biscuit produced in England in 1860. James Spratt, an American electrician visiting London, thought he could do better and formed his own dog food company. Thereafter, several U.S. companies entered the dog food market. After World War I, commercial dog food markets added horse meat to their products. The 1950's saw the introduction of dry pet food. Today, we have a wide variety of commercialized dog food available to the pet consumer.

What are the basics of choosing a good dog food?

You Are What You Eat

A dog needs a diet with a wide variety of nutrients to keep her healthy. These include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins, and minerals.

A good way to select the appropriate dog food for your canine is to read the food label. Look for dog foods that have a high amount of meats and use only whole grains and vegetables. Generally, meat, fish, or poultry and grains and soybean meal should be at the top of the food ingredient list on the packaging. Avoid dog foods that carry a high level of meat by-products, unidentified fatty sources, and artificial flavors and preservatives.

Giving your dog the best diet you can manage and afford is worth it. She'll reap the benefits of a shinier coat and better resistance to diseases and other health problems.

How should I feed multiple dogs?

Feeding Two Dogs

Feeding two or more dogs demands extra care and attention on your part. It's helpful to feed the most dominant dog her food first and then offer the more submissive dog her food bowl.

Each dog must have her own bowl and a designated spot for her food bowl. If your dogs become aggressive or competitive over food then you'll have to feed them in separate areas.

How often should I feed my puppy?

Watch that Weight

If your puppy is overweight, you can take steps to correct the problem now. Obesity is a common problem among domesticated canines and can lead to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and skin and joint disorders. You can cut back on the amount of food that your puppy gets at each mealtime to aid in her weight loss. Before six months of age, a puppy should be eating three meals a day.

Should I worry if my dog eats grass?

Dogs Eating Grass

If your dog is acting normally and appears healthy, then a little grazing on the lawn doesn't hurt. Grass eating is a topic that may receive some debate between veterinarians, but most agree that there is no proven correlation between eating grass and any ailments in canines. In fact some vets suggest that dogs simply eat grass because they enjoy it and they lack this aspect of roughage in their diet.

What is tripett?

Tripett - YUMM

One of the more interesting dog food supplements out there today is a product called Tripett. Tripett is an easily digestible, all natural dog food and dog food supplement which contains the stomach lining and stomach contents of cattle containing partially digested grasses and grains, digestive enzymes, gastric juices, amino acids, and essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6).

It might sound gross to a human, but dogs love it! Many top breeders supplement their dogs diet with this product, and it makes for a shiny coat, and a healthy diet.

What can dog food labels tell me?

Read the Label

One good way to know if your dog is getting the proper nutrition is to read the pet food labels. Your dog should be eating a proper well balanced diet that includes the following:

Carbohydrates: This helps your dog's energy levels, prevents constipation, and includes well-cooked grains, starches, and sugars.

Proteins: This is for proper growth and the maintenance and repair of tissues. Protein sources include meat, eggs, fish, and soy products.

Fats: This gives your dog energy, a healthy and shiny coat, and adds flavor to his meal.

Vitamins and Minerals: They are the basis for the day-to-day functioning of your dog and promote good eyesight and growth. Your dog can get vitamins from products like meat, eggs, fish, and vegetables.

How often should I feed my puppy?

How Often to Feed a Puppy

Puppies should be fed multiple times a day to accommodate their metabolic rate.

Feed your puppy three times a day, in the morning, early afternoon, and early evening until she is six months of age. Thereafter, you can feed your dog twice a day in the morning and evening. Always remember to provide plenty of fresh water at each mealtime and throughout the day.

Why is organic dog food good for your dog?

Organic Dog Food

Organic dog food is all natural and is free of preservatives, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Since organic dog food is made to adhere to a certain level of standard, beginning with the meat and vegetables that go into the food, they are often healthier for your pet to consume.

When a dog food is certified organic, it is held to a very high level of scrutiny when it comes to handling, livestock standards, and crop standards:
• Organically produced foods are handled and packaged separately from non-organics.
• Organic livestock receive 100% organic feed, and are prohibited from receiving any antibiotics or hormones.
• Organic crops are managed the old fashioned way: crop rotation, natural fertilizers, etc.

All of these practices must also be documented and backed up with detailed record keeping. Only then can a dog food be "Certified 100% Organic.".

When should I feed my dog?

Regular Feeding Times

Most dogs thrive on a routine and this is true of feeding your dog. Try to set specific feeding times and a feeding location for your canine companion. For puppies, you should feed them three times a day until they are six months old. Many adult dogs will do well on two meals a day. Keeping a regular feeding routine will help your dog manage his weight and aid in housebreaking.

What are the pros and cons of commercial dog food?

Commercial Dog Foods

There is a wide range of commercial dog food on the market today; this ranges from bags of dry kibble, to semi-moist food, to canned dog food.

The main advantage of dry commercial dog food is convenience and cost. Dry kibble can also help with reducing tartar and plaque build-up on your dog's teeth.

Semi-moist food is easy to store and does not need to be refrigerated. However, they tend to also have a high sugar content, which can make it easy for your dog to overeat.

Canned dry food is tends to be more expensive and does need refrigeration after opening. There is a higher water content in canned foods which may necessitate more frequent urination in dogs.

If you decide to feed your dog commercial dog food, look for the highest quality dog food you can afford, which contains the most amounts of healthy, digestible food products from the four food groups as well as the least amount of unnatural preservatives.

What foods are more digestible than others for my dog?

Digestibility of Food

You need to pay attention not only to the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a dog's diet, but also the digestibility of the nutrients. Carbohydrates such as well-cooked grains, starches, and sugars, aid in digestion.

Some types of protein are more digestible or can be broken down and then used by your dog. An inexpensive dog food may actually require that you feed your dog more to give the same amount of nutrient value since many inexpensive commercial grade pet foods are laden with non-nutritive fillers. An organic or natural dog food is composed primarily of foods from the four food groups and will typically use only natural preservatives.


Where can I find them?

You can buy super-premium dog foods at most pet stores and superstores. You can find brands like Nature's Variety, Merrick dog food and Tripett online. Prices vary. Foods with raw meat can be expensive, expect to pay $80 to $100 for about 24 pounds of raw patties, more if you want organic raw chicken. Super-premium dry dog food goes for about $1 a pound, in bags of 5, 15 or 30 pounds. Expect to pay about $1.50 to $2 a pound for canned Tripett tripe, available by the can or in cases of 24 cans.

How does a dog adjust to changes in dog food?

Changing Dog Foods

Whenever you decide to change the brand of dog food or type of food you are feeding your dog, always do so gradually. This will keep your canine's digestive system from suffering from stomach upset.

If possible, make changes slowly over the course of a few days by adding a small portion of the new food to the old until you have switched your pooch to her new diet. You can also introduce yogurt as a mild protein to help your dog's stomach adjust if you want to transition her dog from kibble to a raw protein diet.

Avoid changing your dog's food before any kind of performance competition to prevent possible upset stomach or runny stools.

My dog gobbles his food and this is causing digestive problems. What can I do?

Slow Those Fast Eaters

If your canine is gobbling up kibble faster than you can feed him and you need to slow him down, there's a few things that you can do to aid in the proper digestion of his meal.

• Put his food in a muffin pan.
• Feed him by hand.
• Put large, smooth rocks in his bowl. Be careful that he can't ingest any of these!
• Place a thick chain in his bowl.


Eating better than you?

With dog food, you get what you pay for. With super-premium dog foods, you're paying a lot more than for basic kibble. What you get are all-natural, often organic gourmet dog foods. For example, you can buy raw meat mixes that are up to 95 percent meat, meat-counter-quality bones, or grain-free kibble in a variety of exotic flavors (including Cajun Turducken). There's even canned green tripe, which is taken from cows that have partially digested grass in their intestines. You can get canned, freeze-dried or dry mix, depending on your dog's tastes. Brand names include Merrick dog food, Natures Variety and Tripett. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to more than $100 (for organic raw chicken from Nature's Variety).

When can I give my dog table scraps?

Avoid Table Scraps

You should refrain from feeding your pooch table scraps. Not only do you run the risk of feeding her something she shouldn't eat, it teaches your canine the bad habit of begging from the table. However, if you can't resist the occasional treat from the table, then follow a few guidelines:

• Avoid feeding her sweets as they can cause cavities. Absolutely do not give your dog chocolate. Chocolate is a toxic substance to dogs.

• Consider giving your pooch some vegetables, rice, plain yogurt, and plain pastas to round out her diet.

• Avoid giving her duck, venison, pork, or veal. There's too much fat in these meat and they should be avoided.

What special nutritional needs do older dogs have?

Feeding Geriatric Dogs

An older dog is going through a lot of physical changes. They tend to be less active and may be prone to being overweight. They may also start to develop health problems, including arthritis and diminished eyesight.

To help keep your older dog as close to her prime as possible, give her a diet that has lower calories, protein, and fat than regular adult dog food diets. You should also increase her fiber intake, which helps the digestive process.

When can a puppy go to just one meal per day?

Dropping a Meal

You should feed your puppy three meals a day until she is about six months of age. Feed her in the morning, early afternoon, and early evening. Thereafter, you can feed your dog twice a day, in the morning and evening. If you have a dog that is prone to bloating (a condition causing the stomach to swell), you should maintain a feeding schedule of two to three times a day into adulthood.

How can I check to see if my dog is in good body condition?

Watch that Waistline

One way to know if your dog is eating right for his weight is to check his waistline. You should be able to clearly distinguish between you canine's ribcage and abdomen. However, his ribs should not be showing through his coat (especially if he is short haired) or this would indicate an underweight dog. If you were to run your hands along the sides of his body, should be able to feel his ribs between his shoulders and his hips.

Are there alternatives to commercial dog food?

Commercial Dog Food Alternatives

There are alternatives to feeding your furry friend the commercial pet foods that you find at most grocery stores.

Options include balanced cooked homemade foods, raw dog food, organic canned dog food, and all homeopathic dry dog food. One popular diet alternative is the BARF diet, which stands for "Bones And Raw Food". Most dog food alternatives are available at specialty pet stores and on-line pet stores. Before you feed your dog a homemade or raw diet, make sure you check the latest research in pet nutrition and healthy food sources for canines.


Does your dog need super-premium foods?

Think of super-premium dog foods like human health foods. It can't hurt you to eat organic and whole-grain products, and it might even help you feel better and contribute to your overall health. Most vets think the same way about super-premium brands like Nature's Variety, Merrick and Tripett. It can't hurt and it might make a difference in your dog's coat and overall health, let alone the dog's feelings about mealtime. But few vets come out on record saying that these foods definitely make a difference in your dog's health. It's really up to you, the owner. If you're someone who sees the benefits in human health food, you're probably going to see it in dog food as well. It's up to you – and your ability and interest in paying a lot more for your dog's meals.


How much should my dog eat?

Most super-premium foods like Nature's Variety or Merrick are much higher in protein and fat content than premium, like Iams, or economy dog foods, such as a store brand. So you can easily feed your dog less food and have him obtain as much or more nutritional value. Look for the feeding guidelines on the package. Be careful not to overfeed your dog, especially if you're changing from an economy food with lower nutritional value. Portions will also vary according to age, size, environment, temperament, breed and activity level. If you have questions about how much to feed your dog, you should ask your vet, breeder or trainer.

What is a raw dog food diet?

Raw Dog Food

Some dog owners believe in feeding their canines a raw food diet. This can include a number of different meats as well as a mixture of foods from the other food groups.

One popular method of feeding your dog on a raw diet is referred to as the BARF diet, known to some as "bones and raw food". Others refer to the same acronym as "biologically appropriate food". This diet was developed by an Australian veterinarian named Ian Billinghurst.

The diet consists of not only meat, but foods from the other food groups as well. Some of the edibles on the list include raw meaty bones from chicken or lamb, raw eggs, raw vegetables, and cooked cereals, yogurt, and supplements.

The BARF diet is based on the belief that dogs should be fed foods that they were meant to eat based on the process of evolution. Feeding your canine raw foods remains a hotly debated topic as to its benefits and drawbacks.

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Guru Spotlight
Patricia Walters-Fischer