You are what you eat isn’t just a mantra for people, but dogs too. Deciding what to feed your dog is not something you should take lightly. Aside from exercise, diet is the biggest contributor to your dog’s well-being, so feeding healthy dog food is important.
Getting sucked into poor eating habits can be the difference between a long and healthy life for our beloved four-legged friends. Read on as we share some key principles every dog owner should know to apply to their canine diet.
Introduce Fresh Whole Foods
Fresh whole foods such as fruit and vegetables are full of live enzymes that will add a whole new dimension to your dog’s diet. Whole foods are full of fibre which helps with digestion, encourages pooping and improves stools.
Unfortunately, many of the nutrients in these wholesale foods are destroyed by the cooking processes that create shelf-able dog foods. To compensate, manufacturers add synthetic nutrients that mimic the natural nutrients, so it is always the better option to go for the real wholesale foods.
Avoid Shelf Foods
Thanks to clever marketing, many people overlook the downsides of processed foods. There is a reason why processed food has a 12-to-24-month shelf life. Marketing has conditioned many dog owners to believe that shelf-stable foods provide everything that a dog needs, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Shelf stable products have no live enzymes due to the industrial cooking process, as previously mentioned. They rely on synthetic supplementation to meet the “balanced” nutritional standards. The products themselves are okay for the average dog from time to time, but solely relying on them as a prime source of food is not a well-balanced diet.
After all, if human food were processed and fit into a small pellet or can, most of us would not eat it as part of our diet. So why should dogs?
Biscuits, kibble, and canned foods have their place in shelters, long trips, charities, and occasions where you are pressed for time, but they should not be used as a staple diet.
Avoid Cooking Meat
All species aside from humans eat raw meat, which loses many beneficial nutrients when it is cooked.
The same goes for when it is fed to dogs. While certain foods may release more nutrients when cooked, it is best to avoid cooking meat when giving it to your dog.
Ignore the marketing Hype and read the label
No matter how good it may sound, relying on advertisements for nutritional information is not a good practice. Many of the commercials and advertising you see have been cleverly put together by a marketing agency that didn’t even formulate the food. Their job is to make even the worst kinds of foods appear healthy.
Sounds horrible? That’s because it is. Always carefully examine your dog’s food and treat labels to help make more informed purchases.
Product labels will always display ingredients in order from largest to smallest. A good standard practice is to google the first five ingredients to find out how good or bad they are, and the results may surprise you.
Do Not Overfeed and Put a Limit on Treats
The amount you feed your dog should depend on whether they need to gain or lose weight. If your dog is overweight, you should feed them in the morning to give them time to burn it off. Similarly, if your dog needs to gain weight, you should feed them more regularly, especially before bedtime, preventing them from burning calories.
If your dog is on the skinnier side, you shouldn’t worry (within reason). It’s perfectly normal for dogs to be slim, especially in their younger, more active years. At the same time, as your dog ages, it will gain weight easier, so don’t set your dog up for failure by overfeeding.
The same goes for treats. Many treats are incredibly bad for dogs, so you should ration them carefully. If you’d like to feed them more treats, consider making fresh and healthy alternatives at home. Dried coconut flakes are a great example!
Unfortunately, the dog food industry is incredibly mistreated, and many people are tripped into buying poorly made products that provide little to no benefit for dogs. Some key points to take home would be to always go for wholesale foods where possible, and if you can’t, at least read the label.