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Whether you have just gotten a puppy, or are a seasoned dog owner, here are 5 must-know dog food dietary guidelines when it comes to ensuring your pup gets all the nutrients it needs from its grub.
1. Make sure they eat their fruit and veggies: Unlike their feline counterparts, dogs are not pure carnivores and can also derive nutrients from fruits and vegetables on top of their meat-heavy diet. In fact, fruits and vegetables serve as a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are essential to ensuring that your pup’s dog food is filled with all the nutrients’ it needs.
Vegetables such as dark, leafy greens can reduce your dog’s risk of developing cancer by 90% and carrots offer beta-carotene which helps boost their immune system, support eye health and improve their skin and coat. In addition, fibre helps their digestive track. Feeding raw carrots is also good for your dog’s gum and teeth when they chew on them.
2. Tailoring dog food according to dog size: It is important to note that dog food when tailored correctly to suit the needs of a dog’s breed size can help in reducing health issues and may even prolong their lives. Large breed dogs are prone to develop orthopaedic diseases such as hip dysplasia and when they enter their senior years, tend to develop arthritis.
On the other hand, smaller breed dogs have extremely high metabolic rates and can burn through a meal in just a few hours when they are a puppy, which means that they can develop hypoglycaemia if they don’t receive enough calories on a frequent basis. As they get older, ensuring that their dog food has high levels of antioxidants can help prevent free radical damage over their comparatively longer life spans than those of larger dog breeds.
3. Don’t overfeed your dog: Keep meals to 1-2 a day or feed within a short timing window of 8 hours if you prefer to feed them 2-3 times a day. Generally, most indoor dwelling dogs have low energy requirements and should have an appropriate calorie count for their ideal body weight. Stick to dog food which have real, recognisable, whole-food ingredients and avoid those that have unfamiliar listed ingredients. High quality protein and meat will also help to keep your dog feeling full. Ditch the carbs.
4. Don’t go nuts with what you put in dog food: While we would love to give in to our dogs whenever they give us their puppy eyes as they see us munch on snacks like nuts, it is important to note that there are some nuts that should never be included in their dog food or fed to them as snacks. Macadamia nuts for example, are toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, weakness, hyperthermia and even depression. Almond nuts, while not toxic to dogs as macadamia nuts are, can be a choking hazard so be sure to cut them into smaller pieces or crush them and sprinkle them over their diet. Salted almond nuts may also be potentially fatal to dogs prone to heart disease as their salt content can cause increase in water retention. Unsalted cashew nuts on the other hand, are safe for dogs to eat but only when eaten a few at a time. Cashew nuts include calcium, magnesium, antioxidants and proteins.
5. Limit the amount of dog treats given each day: As much as we would love to treat our fur friends, ensuring that they are not overfed with treats is important in managing their diet. As a role of thumb, your dog should not be eating more than 10% of their daily calories from treats. You can seek your vet’s advice on what that 10% amount is, alternatively you can check on the back of the dog treat package to determine how many calories it contains. (If they don’t list the calories, you probably might not want to buy that treat.) We like to recommend your table scraps as treats, as long as it is cooked whole food - a mixture of meat, fruits and veggies and maybe some whole grains. Of course never feed onions or grapes.
It is important to remember that while we feed our dogs that we don’t just pick the cheapest and easiest option, or conversely, pick the most expensive and add on unnecessary supplements unless advised by your dog. In fact, over supplementing can actually be harmful to your dog. As long as you have these 5 guidelines at the back of your mind, you can ensure that your dog will have a healthy, balanced and satisfying meal each time they take a bite!
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