A healthy and balanced diet is vital to ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy. Certain foods are crucial and beneficial for your dog’s overall well-being, whilst others can be harmful or even poisonous.
There is no ‘one diet fits all’. Depending on the dog breed, age, level of exercise, and pre-existing conditions, your dog’s nutritional needs will differ from other dogs of even of the same breed and age.
This article will give you an overview of the foods that your dog can and should eat and those that your dog must not eat. You will also learn why you need to look out for highly processed dog foods.
Feeding Amounts and Treats
A normal-weight adult dog can be fed between one or two times daily. It is important to not to overfeed your dog.
Obesity can lead to serious health consequences for your dog. A dog that has excessive fat is much more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and urinary bladder stones among other things.
After feeding your dog, give them time to digest their food before taking them for exercise. Wait at least 60 minutes before walking your dog. but also wait at least 30 minutes to feed them after a walk.
If your dog needs to lose weight, try to feed them only once a day in the morning. By doing so, your dog has time to work it off over it day. In contrast, if your dog needs to gain weight, feed your dog regularly and in the evening, before bedtime.
Don’t feed your dog treats regularly. If you want to reward your dog for good behaviour do so by rewarding them with access to a toy, rather than treat-motivation. If you wish to feed your dog treats, the best thing that you can do is to make them yourself since there is no such thing as healthy ready-made treats.
Processed Commercial Dog Food
When it comes to processed and/or shelf-stable dog food, you should do your research before making a purchase decision.
Sadly, most processed dog foods contain rather bad ingredients for your dog. Moreover, making dog food shelf-stable often requires the use of bad preservatives, additives, or other agents that are anything but healthy and rather damaging to your dog’s health over the long-term.
When buying dog food, turn the package around and look at the ingredients list. The list is in descending order from the ingredients that make up the largest percentage of the food. Next, look these ingredients up via Google. You might be surprised by what you discover. Many ‘standard’ ingredients used in dog foods are in fact very bad for your dog and can even make your dog sick.
Ideally, you should consider feeding your dog homemade food to ensure all the bad stuff is left out.
To give yourself an idea of how bad processed dog food can be, here are the
top 7 worst ingredients in processed dog foods, and their health risks:
1. BHA/BHT - Preservatives that can cause cancer.
2. Sodium Hexametaphosphate - Retarded growth, skin irritation and swollen kidneys.
3.By-Products – Often the flesh of animals that had infections or other diseases and had been stuffed with hormones and penicillin, which can still be found in their flesh.
4. Carrageenan - Can cause intestinal inflammation in animals.
5. Ethoxyquin – This preservative is found in herbicides and can be linked to kidney and liver damage, cancer, immune deficiency syndrome, blindness and leukaemia in animals.
6. Propylene Glycol - Found in anti-freeze products and might build intestinal blockages.
7. Vegetable and Canola Oils – Can cause inflammation.
This is not a complete list. These are just a few ingredients that you should look out for when buying dog food.
Avoid meat that is marked as pet meat or pet mince as these might contain preservatives or other agents to make old meat appear fresh. Ideally, feed your dog raw human-grade meat.
Never feed your dog cooked bones because they can often splinter and thereby cause critical internal injuries. Feed your dog raw bones instead. Once a week is ideal, as this is beneficial for their dental hygiene. You shouldn’t feed them raw bones more often, as this might cause constipation.
While it’s not bad for your dog to have cooked food, it is also not beneficial for them either. By cooking the food, it loses a lot of nutrients, which need to be added elsewhere without overfeeding your dog.
If you wish to give your dog cooked meat, it should only be a small amount of plain meat like lamb or chicken with no added salt, gravy, bones, and so forth.
Fresh Whole Foods
Feed your dog fresh vegetables and fruits. The emphasis is on fresh. Many nutrients will be lost by cooking vegetables and they won’t be as beneficial for your dog anymore. Whole foods are packed with fibre, which is important for digestion.
But be careful, not all fruits and vegetables are suitable for your dog and some are even toxic. You will find a list of foods that you must not feed to your dog below.
Vegetables good for your dog
Pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, beetroot, green beans, kale, cucumbers.
Fruits good for you dog
Apples, bananas (in moderation as they are high in sugar), blueberries, mango (in moderation as they are high in sugar) but remove the pit as it contains cyanide which can be deadly for your dog. Oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, watermelon, raspberries or strawberries are ok for your dog too.
Cooked pasta and rice or any type of grain isn’t necessarily bad for your dog but also won’t benefit your dog either.
Instead, replace grains with legume food like lentils or green beans. They are rich in fibre, proteins and minerals and high in B-group vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
It is ok to feed your dog fish such as canned tuna, salmon or sardines every now and then, but not regularly. The fish should not be tinned in oil, brine or spicy marinates - choose spring water instead.
Hydration is crucial for your dog. Therefore, a bowl of fresh water should always be accessible to your dog. Change the water daily and make sure your dog knows where they can find it.
Do not feed these human foods to your dog
Some foods are highly toxic and life-threating to your dog. Never leave these foods somewhere unattended and easily accessible to your dog.
Important: This is not a complete list!
Never feed your dog chocolate. Never leave chocolate easily accessible to your dog. Make sure your dog won’t be able to reach it. This includes a low in height coffee table or a dining table with chairs around where your dog can easily jump on to. The smell of chocolate will be tempting to your dog, so never risk it.
Onions & Garlic
All kinds and forms of onions such as onion gravy, onion powder, cooked onion and raw onions are poisonous for dogs. As well as garlic in greater amount.
All kinds, such as bread dough, and yeast dough.
Coffee and Alcohol
This includes everything containing coffee or caffeine, as well as alcohol.
Grapes, raisins or sultanas
This includes foods that contain grapes, raisins, and sultans such as fruitcake or Christmas cake.
Walnuts, macadamia, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio, brazil nuts, chestnuts, hickory nuts, pine nuts, pecans, filberts. Peanuts or Cashews are ok in small amounts.
Fruit pits, stones and seeds
They contain cyanide, which is highly poisonous for your dog and can even lead to death.
Fruits and Vegetables
Avocados, cherries, mushrooms, tomatoes.
Don’t blindly feed your dog any kind of food, even if your dog is eager. Do your research and always have your dog’s wellbeing in mind when choosing their next meal. Loving and caring for your dog also means being informed about the health risks of their diet and taking a strong stance - even when your dog’s begging is melting your heart. In the end, all that matters is the wellbeing of the ones we love.
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