When it comes to nutrition, everyone knows that this can be quite complicated for both humans and pets. Your dog should eat a balanced diet that contains all the essential ingredients for healthy development or maintenance, depending on the life stage he or she is in. As a dog parent, you are the one in charge of his or her nutrition, and you need to know what you can and cannot include in it.
What do ‘balanced’ and ‘complete’ mean?
While browsing through the various dog food brands available for sale, you will notice that some of them have on the label terms such as ‘complete’ and ‘balanced’. As mentioned earlier, nutrition is a complex thing, with many aspects to bear in mind.
It can be challenging, to say the least, to include in your pet’s diet everything he or she needs. Dogs are not just carnivores, as they can eat some plant-based foods, too. Their evolution from wild to domesticated animals did not change or influence too much what dogs are eating and what is good for their optimal health.
Instead of struggling with creating recipes for your dog at home, with little to zero chances of success, you can always pick a formula from the pet store that was created with all these complex nutrition needs in mind.
A complete and balanced diet takes multiple aspects into consideration. For instance, your dog needs an excellent source of protein in his or her diet. The premium dog food brands on the market use only real meat in their recipes, and that’s just one thing to remember.
They also cleverly combine various ingredients so that they offer your pet the best nutrition possible. You cannot have a healthy dog without a diet that is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and the right amount of antioxidants.
Why you should not feed your dog home-cooked meals
As a dog parent, you probably think that home-cooked meals show your love much more than just pouring some kibbles in your dog’s bowl. However, this approach can deprive your dog of essential ingredients, and despite your good intention, he or she won’t benefit from the best nutrition possible.
You may not be aware of the needs of your dog throughout different life stages, as you settle for the same home-cooked recipes. A mature dog needs senior dog food because his or her dietary requirements are different now.
A senior dog can be more exposed to the risks of various illnesses associated with old age. For instance, he or she can suffer from arthritis, and therefore, the dog food you provide should be rich in ingredients that can address such problems, and alleviate the painful symptoms.
The right amounts of various ingredients are scientifically measured for the commercial dog foods you can find on the market. Premium brands invest quite a lot in their research department, and that means that they improve their recipes to guarantee optimal health for your dog.
Is raw meat problematic?
There is quite a heated debate going on regarding whether a dog should be fed a diet based on raw meat or not. Raw meat can contain pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli, and even if your dog doesn’t fall ill, there is a health risk for you and your family that you should not neglect.
The pathogens in the dog’s waste can transmit severe diseases to humans, which is why such a diet is not seen as a good idea. Health care specialists stand firmly against it, and they advise to limit the number of times you offer your pet raw meat. Also, they recommend getting only human grade raw meat.
Especially puppies can fall ill if they are fed a diet that includes raw meat. Their small bodies are not strong enough to eliminate pathogens, which is why you must be careful with what you should feed them. For them, you should get some premium puppy dog food that complies with all the nutritional requirements for their life stage.
Foods that you should never feed your dog
While earlier we focused on some basic principles regarding a dog’s nutrition, now we will talk about those foods that you should never feed your pet. They are dangerous, toxic even, and they can cause severe health problems.
Chocolate – you might have heard it plenty of times, but it is something still worth repeating: never feed your dog (or cat) chocolate. This much-loved dessert in the world of humans is toxic to animals. The darker the chocolate, the highest the number of toxic compounds will be.
Cooked bones – dogs love chewing bones; it is a known thing. However, you should get only premium raw bones from the butcher’s shop, if you want to offer your dog a well-deserved treat. The problem with cooked bones is that they become frailer through the process of boiling or frying. That means that they can break into splinters, and these can hurt your dog’s stomach.
Large chunks of vegetables – you may know well that dogs should eat some veggies, too. However, this doesn’t mean that you will see your dog stuffing his or her face with broccoli. It is best to offer your dog cooked vegetables, and it is preferable that you cut them into small pieces. The larger chunks can get stuck in the digestive tract, causing vomiting and other problems.
Xylitol – this artificial sweetener is present in many sugar-free sweets, including peanut butter. Usually, dogs would not have any means to eat xylitol since you don’t feed them chewing gum, for instance. However, peanut butter is often used for training, so you may accidentally give your dog xylitol without knowing it. This ingredient can cause digestive problems.
Nuts and seeds – dogs cannot digest these well. The main risk is that they can end up getting stuck in the digestive tract causing problems. Anything that can lead to such issues should be excluded from your dog’s diet.