Pet Nutrition: The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Food

Owning a dog can improve the quality of your life. Having a dog as your best friend can decrease your blood pressure, your cholesterol levels, and your feelings of loneliness. Being a dog owner can also increase your opportunities for exercise and socialization. Aside from these health benefits, there are security benefits that dogs can provide to your home and to you due to their loyalty, intelligence, keen hearing and sense of smell.

Did you know that dogs can detect cancer in humans? Your pet can help you get treatment for any cancerous disorder while it is still treatable. Dogs have long helped humans with disabilities, track criminals, rescue victims of disasters, deliver messages, hunt for food, and herd animals. Some breeds are better than others for particular ways of helping people. For instance, Golden Retrievers are best for therapy while Border Collies are best for herding. 

But for you to continue enjoying the health benefits and companionship of your pet dog, you should prioritize pet nutrition. The food you provide your pet can significantly affect your pet’s health. Giving your dog adequate amounts of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals will ensure that they will live healthily for the longest time possible.

To easily determine what you should and should not feed your dog, note these do’s and don’ts when it comes to dog food:

1. Do Share Your Vegetables

Vegetables are healthy for humans but are you aware that this is also true for your pet dog? Dogs can highly benefit from vegetables because these are great sources of carbohydrates that can give them energy as well as fibers and minerals that can improve their overall bodily functions. 

With some exceptions, you can add cooked or raw vegetables to your dog’s kibble bowl or give these as treats. Here are some of the best vegetables for dogs:

  • Asparagus: If you have been feeding your dog with the same foods for years, incorporate steamed asparagus to their diets. This vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals and can add more flavor and texture to any of your dog’s meals.
  • Broccoli: Adding broccoli to your dog’s diet is always a must as this vegetable can boost your dog’s immune system, fight arthritis inflammation, and ward off cancer. However, when feeding your dog broccoli, make sure it’s no more than 5% of your dog’s diet. More than that can upset your dog’s digestive system and cause major gas issues.
  • Carrots: Your dog’s mouth can become a breeding ground of germs and bacteria when not cleaned properly. Aside from regularly brushing your dog’s teeth, giving them crunchy carrots can help clean teeth and ease canine anxiety. Antioxidants in carrots can improve your dog’s eyesight and immune system.
  • Green beans: An obese dog can have serious health risks. Excessive weight gain can lead to high blood pressure and heart diseases in dogs. To avoid these, replace about 5% of your dog’s diet with green beans, which is high in fiber and can help regulate your dog’s bowel movement and digestion.

2. Absolutely No Toxic Foods

Regardless of how much you love your dog, remember that you can’t share all of your food with your pet. Foods that are safe and healthy for humans aren’t always beneficial to dogs. In fact, some human foods are toxic to dogs. Yes, dogs can die from some types of human food.

If you don’t want to put your dog’s health in danger, make sure that you don’t feed the following foods to them as these are considered toxic:

  • Chocolate, coffee and anything else with caffeine: Eating chocolates and drinking your favorite cup of coffee might be a treat for busy adults but these should not be given to dogs. Chocolates, coffee and any food that contain caffeine is poison to dogs. Even icing made from these ingredients can cause severe nervous system damage in your dog. 
  • Mushrooms: Never feed your dog mushrooms. Mushrooms can be poisonous and can cause sedation, seizures and tremors to dogs. Having said that, some experts say that some mushrooms are safe for consumption by dogs. Still, if you’re not sure, play it safe and no, don’t, never, provide mushrooms as dog food. 
  • Onions and garlic: Onions and garlic are dangerous to dogs. These can cause severe liver damage and even death. Always check the food that you give to your dog for any amount of onions or garlic in any form, raw or cooked, or even in powder form.
  • Nuts: Any type of nuts should not be given to your dogs as this can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting. Over time, this can lead to dehydration and death among dogs. The side effects of nuts when taken by dogs aren’t always visible, so make sure to keep your nuts away from your canine friend. While some veterinarians approve of peanuts, almonds, and cashew nuts, always ask a licensed professional.

3. Get Professional Advice Before Serving Dog Food

With the increasing variety of dog food choices and pet diets available for sale today, choosing one for your dog can be very challenging. Should you follow your friends’ advice? Or should you settle for an organic diet that is widely advertised in the market today? What will be your basis for choosing? Play it safe and ensure that you’re not putting your dog’s health at risk. Get professional advice from your vet before giving any dog food to your pets.

Your vet’s advice regarding your pet’s dog food can help you choose pet food that suits your dog’s nutritional requirements. This is especially important if you are feeding puppies, senior dogs or dogs with medical conditions. Be careful. The wrong dog food can create health issues or aggravate existing medical conditions.

4. Don’t Overdo Treats

Giving treats is essential when you have a dog. The treats you regularly give them serves as incentives or rewards for your dog. This can motivate your dogs to follow your orders and learn new tricks. However, although beneficial, it’s also important to know where to draw the line. Since dog treats usually contain high levels of sugar, feeding excessive amounts of treats to your dogs can put them at risk for weight gain or obesity. Over time, this can also cause lethargy or even diabetes.

Most pet owners understand how dangerous it is to give excessive amounts of dog treats, but they would usually give in whenever their furry friends put on those “puppy eyes.” If you don’t want to experience this kind of situation and ensure that your dog only receives enough treats, consider these tips:

  • Give treats consistently as you’re training your dog for the first time: Training your dog is beneficial for a lot of reasons. This can benefit the owner and the dog because training regularly can strengthen their relationship. Training regularly can also help your dog become more sociable and smart. Training serves as mental exercises for your dogs to keep their cognitive functions sharp.  

To ensure that your dog remains excited to train with you, give treats consistently when you’re training with them for the first time. Whenever you teach them a command or trick, always give them treats whenever they follow through. This can help reinforce positive behaviour and motivate them to continue following your orders.

  • Consider using clickers along with the treat: If you want your training sessions with your dog to be more effective, invest in a clicker. This is a great reinforcing tool that can ingrain positive behaviour in your dog. A clicker is cheap, easy to use and produces great results in a short period of time.

When using a clicker, make sure to “click” it the moment your dog exhibits the behavior you command them. If you instructed them to do a “high five” using their paws, use the clicker when they touch your hands using their paws and then immediately give the treat to them.

  • Give praises whenever you hand out treats to your dog: Dogs can be considered as social creatures because they love affection and appreciation. In fact, your dog understands your words and your body language towards them. This is one of the reasons why you should praise your dog whenever you hand out your treats to them. Speaking kind words, petting their heads and praising their actions are great rewards for your dog. Along with the treats you give them, your praise will serve as a powerful tool for your dog to always listen to your commands. Remember: positive reinforcement does not always mean treats.
  • Reward randomly: As your dog learns tricks, begin to reward them randomly. If you’re confident that your dog already obeys your every command, reward them once in a while and not always. Instead of giving a treat whenever they follow your command, pet them or praise them verbally. These options are great ways to reward your dog’s positive behaviors without putting their health at risk from too many treats

5. Do Feed Your Dogs With Fish

Contrary to popular belief, adding fish to your dog’s diet can be very beneficial to their overall health and wellness. Some of the safest and healthiest fish you can give to your dog are ocean whitefish, herring, flounder, walleye, Lake Whitefish and salmon pike. Depending on the age of your dog, you can bake, grill or steam fish before adding it to their food bowl.

However, when preparing fish, avoid using too much seasoning such as salt and pepper. You can use greasing agents such as oil and butter but only in extremely limited amounts. The blander the fish is, the better it’ll be for your dog’s health. Don’t forget: seasonings and greasing agents can irritate your dog’s kidney and can cause health problems in the long run. 

With some exceptions, fish is considered a good addition to your pet dog’s diet. Don’t forget to remove bones from fish before feeding it to your dog. If possible, consider adding boneless fish to your dog’s diet. Fish is vital for dog nutrition as it contains Omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin A. 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your dog’s health, particularly during their early years, when they are still puppies. This nutrient can properly support the brain development of puppies. It can also help dogs with arthritis by reducing inflammation of the joints. At the same time, Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your dog’s susceptibility to cancer, boost their immune system, and improve their heart and kidney health. This nutrient is very important for sickly or senior dogs.  

If you’re looking for a natural remedy against your dog’s anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity, add more fish to their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids can encourage natural balance in your dog’s body and help maintain their mental health, too.

  • Protein: Protein is one of the important building blocks of your dog’s body. This nutrient helps your dog’s body to function properly, and improve their skin and hair health. Having normal levels of protein in the body can also ensure that your dog’s muscles develop properly, and their tissues are repaired fast. Protein is also responsible for producing and regulating antibodies, enzymes, and hormones in your dog’s body.
  • Vitamin A: Your dog naturally stores the vitamin A in their bodies and then only consumes it whenever needed. This is an essential vitamin that is responsible for a lot of your dog’s bodily functions. You should add fish to your dog’s food to increase the supply of vitamin A. This vitamin is responsible for your dog’s healthy coat and skin, It conditions their fur and improves their physical growth. Vitamin A can also help manage common health problems among dogs such as night blindness and difficulty breeding with other dogs.

Work With Pros

Being a pet owner is not an easy feat but knowing what to feed your dogs can make your life easier. Consider this article as a starting guide. Remember to work with an experienced veterinarian to make sure that you are doing everything right. With your dedication to taking care of your pet and their expertise in the industry, ensuring that your dog is well-fed and healthy can be as easy as unconditional love.