As I’m sure dogs would agree if they could talk, nutrition is perhaps the most important aspect of dog life, right up there with being loved. It’s not important just because dogs like to eat or because food keeps them running around and fetching sticks either. A lot can depend on your dog’s nutrition and diet, including health, of course, but also discipline, training and appearance.
With that said, it goes without saying that your dog’s diet is something to pay attention to and do right. In the coming weeks, we will go over some of the best natural dog foods, most renowned dog food brands, but also natural dog food recipes and the like, which you can make on your own.
We will also cover the all-important topic of treats in a similar manner. By the end, you will have a solid understanding of how to make your own natural food and treats but also know what to look for when shopping for dog food in general.
For this time, however, we will start by looking at what constitutes a proper, healthy diet for a dog and how you should organize it. That means understanding a dog’s needs and devising a balanced dietary plan. In essence, we will explore the basics of a good diet for your pooch, so let us delve right in.
Amount & Structure
How much you feed your dog, when you feed it, and what you feed it are all equally important factors in your dog’s diet.
To start with, the obvious question is just how much food your dog needs. However, there is no quintessential answer to this question because the amount of food required can vary heavily from one dog to another according to a number of factors.
- To ensure that your pooch is getting enough food, you should always consult a veterinarian or a trusted dog forum online. The factors that have to be taken into account are your dog’s breed, age, size, and the amount of daily exercise.
- What can be established with a fair amount of certainty, however, is the number of meals recommended. Puppies that are under six months of age should receive three to four meals every day, while those that are a bit older will do fine on two.
- Some fully grown dogs can also get by just fine with one meal. The chances are very slim that you will end up underfeeding your pet. What you should be worried about is overeating.
Adjusting your dog’s daily schedule to accommodate those meals and sticking to a rigid program will help you in that regard. Make sure that your dog’s meals are a rule to be enforced every day and don’t feed it sporadically with everything it glances at. This will help you have a good grip on how much your dog eats, but it will also promote discipline and steer your pup away from becoming greedy.
Of the Market and a Dog’s Needs
The most desirable natural dog food ingredients usually include different meats such as beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or venison, as well as different vegetables. Dogs need a wide range of vitamins, proteins, fats, carbs and minerals, just like we do.
A truly balanced diet will include all of these, and it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to just pick a product and stick to it if you want to provide every nutrient that your dog needs while also keeping the diet completely natural.
Certainly, many pet food products are marketed as wholesome or holistic, natural dog food, but such claims leave a lot of room for doubt. Your dog will live quite alright on a reputable, high-quality brand that is made according to a wholesome recipe and marketed as such, but every dog owner should know which individual foods and ingredients contain the nutrients needed by their dog.
Furthermore, it is important to note that dog food can be split into two important categories, and those are dry and wet dog food products. Dry dog foods are generally heavily processed and conditioned to last with many additives and preservatives. They also often put a strong emphasis on caloric content. As such, these products are viewed by some as fast food for dogs. Quality, moist foods that are usually canned are generally healthier and much more “natural” dog food products.
Among the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals will usually come from various fruit and veggies, grains or vitamin supplements.
- While dogs don’t really need fiber, fiber is still very beneficial to conducting the potty business, among other things. Fiber will also be a way to provide carbohydrates.
- Proteins come from where you would expect, but the particularly preferable, natural dog food ingredients that have them are eggs, chicken, beef, turkey, fish, lamb, soybeans, and so on.
The origin of fats is also not that difficult to figure out, but it’s worth mentioning that you should be careful how you deliver them. If you want to feed your dog pork, you should adjust the amount, as pork might be a little too rich in fats. Other meats such as chicken are usually a better alternative. Other, even healthier ways of providing
- for your dog’s fatty needs are products like Omega 3 oils that can be added to your dog’s food.
Foods Your Dog Should Not Eat
Most people have heard that quite a few human foods can be dangerous or outright lethal for dogs, but some of these are often forgotten, so it’s important to know what to avoid next time you want to treat your pooch to a tasty snack as a reward.
Being one of the more famous examples, chocolate is generally very bad for dogs, with a rule that states that the darker it is, the worse it can be, as these contain a particularly high concentration of theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. Overly sweetened foods with a lot of sugar, as well as candy in general, are to be avoided altogether. And the same applies to very salty snacks.
While some dogs can consume dairy, a great portion of canines are intolerant to lactose and can’t process it very well, which can lead to all sorts of unpleasantness. Cow’s milk products are also very rich in fat, which, like in most other fatty snacks, can lead to many problems in dogs, including pancreatitis, gastrointestinal problems and the like. That means that plain old bacon is also not recommended, as much as your dog would love it.
Other things such as grapes, raisins, garlic, onions and avocado, among others, might be natural food and good for humans, but they are not good dog food. It also goes without saying that sharing a coffee or a beer with your furry buddy is a no-go, as caffeine and alcohol are very dangerous for canines.
With that said, you will find that your home is a place where many of the best, all-natural dog foods can be made by you personally. Therefore, make sure to check out next week’s article, when we examine many useful DIY tips and natural dog food recipes, both for general diet and treats.