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Diet and Nutrition

Feeding your dog the wrong diet will affect his health and behavior, and may even make him more susceptible to disease and/or infection.

All dog foods have certain things in common. To pass regulatory standards, they must contain six essential elements but that's where the similarities usually end. These elements are:


First, more protein is not better. High protein diets are used for show or working dogs and a normal dog could become jittery and hyper on this type of diet.

Second, price will tell you nothing about protein content, you must read the label. To meet the minimum daily requirement many dog foods use vegetable proteins which are harder to digest than animal proteins. Find a dog food that uses more animal protein and requires smaller portions to meet the MDR..

Many dogs are allergic to grains found in dog food. The most common allergies are to corn, wheat and soy. If your dog refuses to eat his food or his digestion seems abnormal, consult your vet and save the label from your dog's food to help identify the problem.


Vegetable sources of protein also contain high levels of carbohydrates which can be a problem for your dog to digest. This causes digestive problems such as bloating, upset stomach. constipation, and too much stool. Make sure you pick a diet that contains more animal protein than vegetable protein. You can do that by selecting a food that has two or more animal sources of protein listed in the first five ingredients.


Do not buy your dog a "fat-free' food. Dogs need fat to keep their skin and coat healthy. In proper moderation, fat gives your dog energy and keeps him cool when it's warm and warm when it's cool. If you feed your dog a natural diet, make sure to watch the expiration date. If it spoils, it can lead to a host of health problems for your dog.


Vitamins perform two important functions - they unlock nutrients from food and provide energy. There are two types of vitamins, fat soluble (including Vitamins A, D, E and K which are stored in fatty tissues and the liver) and water soluble (Including Vitamins B and C which are flushed from the body daily.). The need for vitamins depends on your dog and his lifestyle.

The MDR for vitamins is averaged for all dogs, meaning it's based on a beagle-sized dog so it might be wise to invest in a good vitamin supplement because vitamin deficiencies can lead to poor growth, digestive disorders, elimination problems, weak immune system, greasy, stinky coats, thyroid malfunction and sterility.


Like vitamins, minerals help the body in its normal daily activities like circulation and energy production. They come in two varieties, elemental and chelated. Though mineral deficiencies are more common than vitamin deficiencies, do not supplement your dogs diet unless directed by your vet. Adding minerals to your dog's diet can cause an imbalance that can harmful to his health.


How much water your dog needs depends on the level of physical activity and type of food he eats. Dry food encourages thirst because it only contains 10 percent moisture. Your dog will need about a quart of water for every pound of dry food. Canned dog foods or home-cooked diets will require less rinse to wash down.


Dog allergies include wool, dust, molds pollen, cedar chips, house and garden plants and food products.

If you suspect your dog has allergies, talk to your vet to determine what medication would be right and follow this checklist:

Use detergent soap designed for babies' diapers when washing your dog's bedding.
Do not use any sprays in your home, yard or garden that would be toxic to your pet.
Use bleach and water to clean your dog's areas. Many dogs are allergic to commercial disinfectants.
Don't overuse cleaning or parasite products. Flea sprays, powders and dips are very toxic.
Commercial Foods

A good diet should help your dog produce two to three compact inoffensive-smelling stools a day. When looking for commercial foods here are four constants to look for.

The AAFCO's stamp of approval.
The suggested daily ration. Is it realistic?
Eliminate foods causing weight loss, loose smelly stools or poor coat condition.
Respect your dog's judgment. Refusal to touch the food could be a sign of spoiled ingredients or allergies. A dog with a very active lifestyle will need a performance food with high levels of crude protein providing lots of energy to burn. Crude protein measures a dog foods total protein including protein from animals and grains.. A food with more cereal grains is ideal for a more sedentary lifestyle.

Dry Versus Wet

No studies have proven either to be nutritionally superior so the choice is up to you. Many vets suggest a combination of the two. Check the nutritional label to ensure you get a blend of high quality proteins (from dairy and meats) and low quality proteins (from vegetables and grains).

Lamb And Rice Diets

This diet is becoming increasingly popular due to some dogs' food allergies which cause vomiting, diarrhea and gas. If you suspect your dog falls into this category, speak to your vet.

B.A.R.F Diet

The Bones and Raw Food Diet is based upon the idea that dogs and cats are by nature carnivores and it's healthier to feed them what their ancestors ate. While some owners swear by its results, some say it can do more harm than good. Contact your vet for more information.

Sarah Hodgeson, "Choosing, Training and Raising a Dog", Alpha Books, 1996

Information provided by Pets911 at

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