Dog Food and Nutrition
A balanced diet is important to keep our four-legged friends healthy. Components such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and mineral salts are essential and should never be lacking in daily nutrition.
Packaged Dog Food
Many people wonder if packaged food is better than homemade food. There is no answer, because it all depends on the quality of the food.
The dog’s diet must be tailored to its specific nutritional needs. For this reason in general, if we do not have too much time to prepare food for the dog and we have no idea which foods are suitable for him, better buy the packaged food.
Packaged food, which includes canned food and biscuits, is calibrated according to the needs of dogs. On packs we can easily check if the food is suitable for puppies, adult dogs, sterilized dogs, old dogs. Also on the packaging there is also a table that allows us to prepare portions based on the size and weight of the dog.
However not all packaged food is the same. There are more conscious brands that choose quality ingredients and others that are more scarce, usually at a lower price that could use unreliable ingredients, dyes and preservatives that can harm the dog, just as they would hurt us.
Lately even in choosing dog food, many people are turning to cruelty free dog food. It has been discovered that most of the multinationals that produce food for animals carry out invasive tests on dogs and cats to prove the efficacy and non-danger of the foods they produce. The tests consist in inducing diseases in healthy animals and trying to cure them with medicated foods. In these cases the animals are always kept in cages in special enclosures.
Instead the vast majority of small private companies or even large enough – but not multinationals – have no interest in subsidizing expensive animal experiments; while normally using ingredients tested on animals by third parties (preservatives, dyes, etc.) they do not perform or commission tests on animals for the finished product by making the animals ill and keeping them caged.
Finally, there are brands that claim to be cruelty free and others that have even studied a balanced vegetarian diet to avoid sustaining the feeding of the dog by killing other animals.
Homemade Dog Food
If we want to dedicate ourselves to the preparation of food for our dog, we can avoid all or almost all the packaged food and therefore all the possible dyes and preservatives present. Or we can alternate between the two types of food, relying on croquettes for the days when we won’t have time to prepare food. It would also be healthy for the dog to change feeding both in taste and in consistency.
The key point to understand is that homemade food for dogs does not mean feeding it only with leftovers. Giving leftovers to the dog is fine, but be careful that they are balanced for him. Therefore, it is vital that the diet is balanced. Veterinarians recommend the following percentages: 40% protein, 50% vegetables and 10% starch.
For this reason, if leftovers are only meat or only bread, or just soup, that is not a balanced meal and must be compensated for in the following meal or in any case in the following days. The ideal is therefore to prepare a dedicated meal for the dog. There are so many online recipes for dog food, including cookies! Those who love cooking can create whole menus!
One of the questions that most often torments dog owners is:
Can I feed the dog with bones? Bones are rich in calcium and phosphorus, high quality proteins, mineral salts and essential fatty acids. Bone is rich in vitamins A, D and E, iron, copper, anti-oxidants and enzymes. In a bone the dog finds almost all the nourishment it needs.
Furthermore, the bone is a hard food that engages the dog for a long time, helps keep teeth clean and above all, dogs love bones! Sometimes they hide them and then pick them up again in the following hours and days, for them it’s also fun, so you can give the dog the bones every two or three days.
Just pay close attention to the turkey, chicken and rabbit bones because due to their small size and limited consistency, they can break and become small splinters, very dangerous for the esophagus and the stomach of our four-legged friends . Pork, beef and other animal bones are perfect.
Toxic and Dangerous Food
Dog Feeding Based on Age
Feeding the puppies until weaning. Newborn puppies feed exclusively on breast milk, which provides them not only with the nutrients they need, but also the immune defenses needed to grow healthy and strong. In this period they grow very fast, so they need to eat often and feed on foods rich in protein, calcium and fat.
Orphans. Another argument applies to abandoned puppies that cannot be feeded by their mother, so you will have to think about it. This task can be hard and complicated for those with no experience, so we advise you to check with your veterinarian.
Weaning. Between the sixth and eighth week of life the puppies start eating even soft foods, such as baby food, or food for puppies moistened with water. This process is called weaning, as they stop being fed by the mother and start eating solid food.
Feeding of puppies after weaning. After the eighth week, in general it can be said that the puppy has already been weaned and eats solid food. From this moment, until he becomes an adult, he will grow very fast and be very active, so he needs foods rich in proteins and fats.
Adult dogs. This phase is called “maintenance” because dogs do not grow further, but only need to put on mass and volume. Adult dogs have less need for calories per pound compared to puppies, which means that they do not need foods that are high in protein and fat, but less caloric foods.
Older dogs. Older dogs need to follow diets that are appropriate for the type of activity they do, which is less than that performed by an adult dog, and should not be rich in protein to avoid damaging the kidneys. The formulas suitable for these dogs usually bring Senior on the packs and should contain ingredients that are easier to digest. It is also a good idea to use food supplements or vitamins for older dogs.
Obviously, specific needs will depend on the specific conditions of each dog, the environment in which it lives and the amount of physical activity it carries out. Keep in mind that the various breeds of dogs mature at different ages, so not everyone stops being puppies at the same time. In general, small and medium-sized dogs are considered adults when they reach one year of age, while large ones are around 18 months old.
Apparently, hunting dogs, work dogs, those that do intense canine sports or long physical activity in general, need more caloric foods than other dogs. In this case you will have to give them more caloric foods so that the dog receives the energy he needs without having to eat too much.
Up to 3 months, you can feed your dog 4 times a day. Between 3 and 6 months, instead, you will have to reduce the quantity to 3 times a day. From 6 months until he is an adult, you will have to feed him twice a day.
The adult dog should not eat more than two meals a day. It is good practice not to weigh down the digestive system of your dog too much with a single meal a day. The ideal would be two well distributed throughout the day and never more. As far as possible it is good to accustom your four-legged friends to always eat at the same times.
Don’t change place often. The ritual of food has its rules, so even the “where” is very important. To convey a sense of security to the dog and make it eat with greater serenity, it is best to always use the same place whenever possible.
If there are more dogs that have different needs, by age or weight, or if one is more hungry and tends to eat food from others, separate the bowls and put them in different rooms.
The treats are different from “food”. They must be given as a reward during training or when the dog deserves them because he was good!
The dog must not get too used to the taste of the treats, otherwise they lose their effectiveness!