|Like humans, nutrition is important for dogs. It keeps them healthy, happy, and is essential for proper growth. But also like humans, there's actually no fixed formula on how your dog should eat because all dogs are different / Photo by: Javier Brosch via Shutterstock|
Like humans, nutrition is important for dogs. It keeps them healthy, happy, and is essential for proper growth. But also like humans, there's actually no fixed formula on how your dog should eat because all dogs are different--different breeds with different sizes that can consume a varied amount of food.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Chief Veterinary Officer at American Kennel Club (AKC), Jerry Klein, shared that "nutritional requirements for dogs vary by breed, size, age, and health." There are a number of potential diets out there, but it is best to seek the assistance of a vet who can recommend the best combination of food with maximized nutritional value. But, there exist general guidelines that dog owners must keep in mind.
How much food does your dog need to eat?
Vets can help assess the current situation and nutritional value that your dog gets, but a rough estimate would include identifying if a dog is underweight or overweight. According to the RSPCA pet insurance Australia, a dog that is 20% underweight is one whose ribs are easily felt with no fat cover on their skin. When a dog is 10% underweight, bones are still raised, but with minimal tissue cover between the skin and bone. A dog is at its ideal body weight when ribs can be felt through but with slight fat cover. When a dog is 10% over ideal body weight, it'll be difficult to feel their ribs through a moderate fat cover. When a dog is 20% over ideal weight, ribs are totally difficult to feel under a fat cover.
Water intake for dogs is always a necessity and should be available whenever a dog needs or wants. Make sure that the dog's bowl is filled at all times, but changed consistently.
What can a dog eat? Can a dog be vegetarian?
With 31.68 billion US dollars in pet food sales in the US, according to data portal Statista, and an estimated 4.2% growth, we're seeing the community of pet lovers finding alternatives and options for all available food. 9.2 billion US dollars was spent on dry food sales for dogs, and 2.4 billion UE dollars in wet food sales.
It may not look like much, but dogs can eat commercial dog food. It's designed to meet all of a dog's nutritional requirements with meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and vitamins. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition says that commercial food is safe, balanced, and healthy, with food available for dogs at specific stages, puppy age, adulthood and even in pregnancy. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) shared that benefits arise for both wet and dry food. Dry food is believed to be good for a dog's teeth, and wet food is believed to benefit dogs that aren't able to drink a lot of water.
Domesticated dogs are largely carnivorous. One must ensure a dog's balanced diet at each stage in their life especially if they have medical issues. Shifting a dog to an all-vegetarian diet would require extensive research, to be able to provide dogs with alternative sources of protein and ensuring they are receiving this through vegetables. The best would be a fixed diet through a vet.
It is important to feed your dog in a way that is appropriate for its age and stage of life. Puppies at 6 months and younger should eat three to four times a day, while puppies above 6 months can eat just twice a day. In adulthood, dogs can eat once or twice a day depending on how much exercise they get. A border collie who plays and runs all day would likely need more food than a chihuahua who would stay on your lap for the same amount of time. It's important to feed the right amount with the right nutritional levels because pet owners tend to overfeed their pets.
|It may not look like much, but dogs can eat commercial dog food. It's designed to meet all of a dog's nutritional requirements with meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and vitamins / Photo by: Michael Pettigrew via Shutterstock|
Human food and table scraps
An all-kibble diet is acceptable, and a mixed diet with raw meat, fish, vegetables and rice would offer the same benefits along with proper food-handling and hygiene. Even human-grade food can be given as dog-grade raw meats could include harmful preservatives.
Moreover, there are many food items that can be given to dogs straight from your own plate. The Food and Drug Administration warns that chocolate, fatty food, chicken bones, moldy food, salty snacks, and select raw meat are not good for pets. Grapes, raisins, and onions are also to be avoided. Chocolate, onions, and garlic are found to be toxic for pets. Citrus fruits and flavors can cause vomiting, as well as milk, because most are lactose intolerant and milk causes similar vomiting. Raw yeast causes gas buildup in pets, and in extreme cases, can rupture a stomach. Fatty food should be avoided as this can cause pancreatitis in animals. Salty foods affect muscle and nerve function.
As shared by Pets, online informational source about pets, we can hand food over to our pets from our own plates but stay watchful. Only about 10% of food should be extras outside of a dog's daily diet. Above all, it is best to consult with a vet to maximize nutrition given to your favorite pets.
|An all-kibble diet is acceptable, and a mixed diet with raw meat, fish, vegetables and rice would offer the same benefits along with proper food-handling and hygiene / Photo by: szefei via Shutterstock|