What to feed your dog


When it comes to choosing a dog food, consumers are faced with an overwhelming number of brands, all claiming to keep your pet his healthiest, with the shiniest coat and most energy. This is especially true with the latest pet food recalls. The truth is that there are many excellent pet foods on the market and one particular dog may not do as well on a particular food as another dog. You may have to try a few different brands before you find the one that suits your dog. Then you have another decision: dry, semi-moist or canned? Much of it is personal preference, but there are some things to keep in mind when choosing a food for your pet.

Meat, eggs, fish, or meat or fish meal should be the first or second ingredient on the label. Some foods are corn or grain based and may not offer a high quality protein content. Avoid foods that list generic ingredients such as animal fat, poultry fat, corn gluten meal, meat by-products or meat digest. These are byproducts of human food production are low-quality proteins. Artificial colors and preservatives such as BHT/BHA or ethoxyquin also signs of a low-quality dog food.

Premium foods cost more initially, but your dog will require less food to get the proper nutrition, so they can be more economical in the long run. An added bonus is that dogs who are fed premium food will need to eliminate less, since they are eating less volume and more of the food is absorbed instead of passing through the digestive tract.

Whether to feed dry, semi-moist, or canned food depends upon the size of your dog. Semi-moist and canned foods contain water, and are less calorie-dense, so a larger dog (more than 30 pounds) may not get enough calories since the extra water in the food may fill him up before he finishes his meal. A large dog will get more calories and nutrients on a diet of mostly dry food. Slightly moistening the dry food with water or broth will make it easier to digest. Smaller dogs will do as well on any of the three, but some vets do not recommend semi-moist food because of its higher salt and sugar content.

Dogs in different stages of life require different amounts of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals. A puppy may not get enough calories on a diet of adult food, and an adult dog who eats puppy food may gain excess weight. Senior dog food is more digestible for older dogs, so their bodies may absorb more of the nutrients. Choosing a food that is formulated for your dogís age will help insure that he is receiving proper nutrition.

Some people foods should never be given to pets. They may contain chemicals that can make your dog ill or even cause death. The pits and seeds of apples, plums, cherries, and apricots contain cyanide and can be toxic. Food containing caffeine or tannin, such as chocolate, coffee, or tea are also toxic. Onions can cause anemia in dogs. Some low-calorie treats your dog may enjoy and are safe for him to eat include carrots, celery, cauliflower, peas, beans, broccoli, bananas, melons, and apples (seeds removed).

You will be able to tell if your dog is receiving adequate nutrition from his diet by his body condition, at an appropriate weight, with bright eyes and glossy coat, and good energy.

If you want to cook for your dog, be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure you are meeting the specific needs for your pet.

Big Paw Designs has also created downloadable recipes for your pet, with the proceeds benefiting Used Dogs rescue in New Orleans. They can be purchased here.

Visit Big Paw Designs for more pet fun, tips, and cool shopping.

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