Do you really know all there is to know about your canine companion’s nutritional needs? Many pet owners think they’re doing what’s best for their dogs when it comes to dog food and dog treats, but in reality they rely on pure instinct more than science. Nutrition isn’t a guessing game, even when it comes to your pooch. Think about it. If you were left to feed yourself based only on what you craved and had no knowledge of what your body needs to function, would you be eating 5 servings of fruit and veggies or would you head straight for the Ding Dong case at the market?
1. Cover all of the bases.
A dog’s diet can be as complex as any human?s (including yours!), and it’s absolutely essential that you, as an owner, hit all of the vital nutritional bases. A deficiency of certain vitamins and nutrients can lead to upset tummies, overly dry or oily skin, brittle bones, weight issues, and, in some of the worst cases, death. A balanced and proper diet is the building block of your dog’s overall health – if he doesn’t get the right blend of nutrients, the most impeccable care otherwise won’t mean a thing. But with the right diet, his defenses against disease and disorders are infinitely stronger than a dog whose owner hasn’t put much thought into an eating plan.
2. Mix it up!
For the most part, pre-packaged food will help you cover all of the major nutritional requirements a healthy, fairly young dog has. This where many owners trip up simply because of the ease of the decision. Most think that the major choice is between dry and moist food, when in reality the best diet you can provide your dog is one varied in ingredients, textures, and nutritional value. Dogs, of course, are carnivores, and that instinct remains in their blood to this day. They continue to hunt prey (poor Kitty), love sausage-flavored treats, and adore the great crunch they get when chowing down on a bone. Those varied elements should give you a little bit of insight into how diverse your dog?s diet can be.
3. Move beyond meat.
Building some portion of his diet from meat gives you many of the crucial nutrients he needs for energy and growth, but he also needs fiber and carbohydrates to aid in digestion and stability. You could throw down a bowl of dry food every day and maybe give him a “treat” of moist food once a month, but how would you like it if the tables were turned and he insisted on feeding you pancakes every day for the rest of your life? Not such a sunny outlook, is it?
4. Make it a real meal.
Listen, nobody ever said you had to rely on a bag or can of food to feed your dog. You cook for your family all the time. Doesn’t your dog deserve similar treatment?
5. Give him some green.
Your dog needs a well-balanced diet, and the best way to accomplish that is through a wide variety of ingredients. Did you know that many dogs love veggies? Give it a shot and see what you – and your dog – think. After all, the worst that could happen is an improvement in your pooch’s health!
The only set rule in feeding your pup is to make sure his meals satisfy the unique nutritional requirements any dog has. You don’t have to stick to the bag or the can, and you don’t have to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen. Making dishes for your dog can be a family event, and nothing expresses gratitude better than a big, sloppy, wet kiss.
Mark Eckenrode is a lover of dogs, his own is named Ryker.