Guest Post by Ali from Wag The Dog
So, what do you feed your dog….??
Talking about pet nutrition these days is a bit of a mine field, there are so many options and so many opinions that sometimes, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.
At Wag the Dog, we do not condone a particular diet or brand – as we are all to aware that there are multiple factors that need to be taken into account when people choose a pet food – but we thought that we would offer a few top tips to help people out.
This article really does literally just touch on a few points (there is a lot to discuss with pet food!), should you want any more info – feel free to contact us, and check our blog and next month’s Newsletter for additional information.
One of the most important things, is to make sure you know the correct portion size for your dog – small or large, you need to ensure it is getting the right amount of food. Also know what goes in and what comes out!! What comes out is a great representative of whether your dogs diet agrees with them or not. Feed your pet twice a day at around the same time (do not be regimented about timing though as this in itself can cause problems – what if you are late home from work etc.?), and make sure your pet has a quiet environment to eat in. For larger dogs, you may wish to use a raised surface or raised bowl so they do not have to bend down too much, which can cause digestion problems and possibly bloat.
Okay, let’s start with the” bones and raw food diet”; it is true that dogs are by nature carnivores, and, as a result require meat in their diet, however, if you are feeding them a diet entirely based on bones and raw food, then you need to be aware that they may be missing out on various vitamins and minerals that they do need to have for a complete and balanced diet. You can provide supplementation for your pet, and it is beset that you discuss this with your vet to ensure that you are providing the balance that they need throughout their diet.
If you wish to include meat in your dogs diet, but you are concerned about the cost, then consider buying chuck beef (off the bone) or chicken wings & chicken necks – both of which are fairly cheap by the kilo, even from your local supermarket. Remember that your dog should NEVER be given cooked bones, as these are too brittle – all bones given to your dog (or cat) must be raw. Beef brisket bones and chicken wings are great for your dog, but do bear in mind the size of your dog in relation to the size of the bone.
Raw bones are also the best form of dental care you can provide your dog, as the chewing process helps keep tartar and plaque down, however, if your dog is a big dog, it may simply bolt down chicken necks, which means that the dental benefits become obsolete. For smaller dogs and cats, you can cut up chicken necks/wings, to make it easier for them to eat, but they do need to actually crunch through the bones and chew them to benefit their oral hygiene.
Dogs need food for the same reasons we do – for energy – however, dogs do not need carbohydrates like humans do, although they can use them as a source of energy. Most dog foods these days are ‘complete’ – so in theory they should meet all your dogs dietary needs. When buying any pet food it is recommended you buy the best you can afford. With premium pet foods, the quality of the ingredients is usually better and your pet will actually need to eat less in order to keep it satisfied and happy.
It is advisable for your pet to receive some form of dry food/kibble as at least part of its diet and this can also help with dental care. However, it is not strictly true that eating dry kibble alone will clean your dogs teeth, it just clings to the teeth less than wet food and as a result less decay and bacteria will form on the tooth. A low quality, dry dog food will be cheaper than wet food (tinned food), however it will have a relatively low meat content and may have a high ‘filler’ ratio, such as soy and wheat – these can be difficult to digest and can cause allergies in some dogs.
Wet dog food (tinned food) can contain a lot of water – due to the high water content, if you were to feed your dog wet food alone, you would need to give it considerably more than if you were feeding it dry food. When you buy wet food, it can look like it is filled with meaty goodness – however, what you think is meat, may in fact be ‘textured vegetable protein’. This is made up from soy products such as soy protein, soy flour or soy concentrate – it may also contain cereals too. As part of the wet composition of the tinned food, this can supply quite a lot of protein material to the contents of the tin, so even if a tin has a low protein composition, it may seem to have a lot of meat in it, which in turn, is actually vegetable.
Ideally you want a real protein source to be listed high in the ingredient list of your chosen food – i.e. beef, chicken etc. However, keep in mind that the listed item will be what is used at the start of the process, so it will not accurately tell you what is in the food after processing – where the water is removed. Make sure meat and fat products are specifically listed by species as this goes towards the quality of product that you are buying; avoid products that use unidentified ‘animal’, ‘meat’ or ‘poultry’ products in the food. Similarly, if there are ‘meal’ products in the food, you want them listed in a food specific way, the meal listing is also a little confusing, as the meal content represents the weight after water removal, so, realistically, you want your chosen meal product – such as chicken meal – to list higher than your basic meat product, as it is in essence, more meaty!
Pet food inevitably will include grains or cereals of some kind – be it wet or dry – it’s a key part of the pet food industry. Choose a product that has corn rather than soy as it’s chosen product – corn is more easily digestible to dogs than soy for example; also make sure that what is listed are quality whole grains rather than grain fragments – which really do have no nutritional value.
Too much cereal based food in a dogs diet can cause allergies in some cases and also hyperactivity (allergy reactions include: lethargy, hair loss, rashes, hotspots and diarrhoea). If you think your dry food may have a lot of cereal in it, then soak some in water for 15 minutes – if it swells up and goes mushy, then it has a high cereal content.
Five things that your dogs food should contain are; calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium and linoleic acid (we will also be following up with the various things that your pet food should NOT contain!)
Dogs of course love food, and will, a lot of the time eat whatever you provide them with – however, you can provide them with a reasonably varied diet by combining dry food with wet food and also including raw bones in their diet too. If you decide you need to change your dogs diet for any reason, then do so gradually over a period of time – do not just swap their food over one day and hope that they like it!
Ultimately, whatever you feed your pet, it comes down to an individual choice for you and your dog – just be sure that your choice is an informed one!
Be safe; keep your family close and your pets closer!
Article authored by Ali from Wag The Dog – Dog Walking Gold Coast.
Wag the Dog is a Professional business, we are fully insured, police checked, a member of PIAA and all consultants hold a Pet First Aid and CPR Certificate.
- Do You Know What is Really in Your Pet’s Food? (livingforpets.com)
- What Human Foods Must Not Be Given To Dogs (animaltopics.com)
- How Does the Nutritional Needs of Cats Influence the Price of Dry Food? (brighthub.com)
- Understanding Pet Food Labels (everydayhealth.com)
- Safe Handling Tips for Pet Foods and Treats (everydayhealth.com)
- Your Guide to Choosing Healthy Pet Food (everydayhealth.com)