The importance of nutrition for the health of your dog cannot be emphasised enough. It is very common for a multitude of health problems to start from poor nutrition.
Allergies from food are very common. So for example, when your dog has chronic ear infections, the vet will often recommend to switch to a hypoallergenic food for 6 weeks to see if this will help. Dog’s skin and hair are the first to reflect that something is wrong. Allergies can also cause itching, diarrhoea, vomiting, or excessive hair loss. Likewise, a silky coat is always a result of proper nutrition.
Now, ideally you will feed your dog with Super Premium food because it is rich in vitamins and packed with healthy nutrients. Also, it is best to choose organic alternatives, if possible. But it is the life stage, size, breed and lifestyle that will ultimately decide what your dog needs from their diet.
How to Choose?
The best possible advice on which brand to choose can be given to you by your vet. For example, despite its long-history, some dogs simply do not respond well to Royal Canin, so their owners need to opt for another brand. On the other hand, quality brands of high-protein food such as Orijen and Acana which are great for a lot of dogs can be too much for dogs who find grain-free food too hard to digest. Ask your vet for advice and then see how your dog responds to it.
Whenever switching your dog’s diet, you must do it gradually. Doing it too fast can cause a problem. Simply start blending the new food with the old for about 7 days, gradually adding more of the new. But you also don’t want to switch too often. It can turn your dog into a picky eater. You have foods such as Hills Science Plan which are of very good quality, but you don’t stand a chance giving it to your dog if she’s a picky eater.
If your dog has an upset stomach, cooked rice is always good to go to firm her stool and stop vomiting. It is also a good idea to add probiotics in her diet, but more on that later. You can also use traditional remedies like camomile, ginger and already made mixtures to soothe your dog’s tummy.
Say NO to table scraps!
The only rule is that you absolutely must say ‘no’ to table scraps. Not only will this encourage bad behaviour but it can be very dangerous for your dog as a lot of food that we eat is a poison to them. And unfortunately, they love its scent and would love to try it, so the responsibility is all yours. Ignore their adorable ‘puppy eyes’ and say ‘no’, it’s for their good.
Until your puppy turns one year, she must eat special food that has much more vitamins and minerals than adult dog food. For large dogs such as retrievers, you can give them puppy food even until they are 18 months old, but a vet will tell you when your dog is fully developed.
Not feeding your puppy properly can cause serious health issues. It could also be a trigger for chronic health problems. Your dog will reach its full size within the first 12 months of its life. But the first year is also when their immune system will be built. So the emphasis of proper care during the first year of a dog’s life cannot be stressed enough.
By knowing the breed and its specific strengths and weaknesses, your vet can provide great advice. Also, you can always add natural immune boosting remedies to your puppy’s meal, one being stimulating drops. It is equally important to exercise your dog, train her and start your grooming rituals as soon as possible. The first year of her life is what sets the stage for a healthy and happy dog.
The importance of keeping intestinal hygiene
You don’t want your dog to have any undesired visitors such as parasites and a healthy tummy is key to protect your dog from these intruders. A good nutrition is key to building your dog’s health. So, when you do decide on your dog’s diet, depending on its ingredients, these are the additions to have in mind.
Fatty Acids – omega 3s and 6s
Although the most advertised benefit of fatty acids is a shiny coat, supplementing these will do so much more. A good supplement will contain antioxidants that also build your dog’s immune system. Furthermore, borage oil (omega 6) does a great job of keep your dog’s heart strong and healthy, and therefore reduces risk of heart disease. On the other hand, fish oil (omega 3) also has extraordinary health benefits. They are good for the heart, but also improve eye and brain health. Some studies even suggest that they are also good for joint support and that they decrease pain in dogs suffering from arthritis.
Soluble fiber is great for loose stools, for dogs that are prone to anal sacs issues and IBS. Generally, it is a good idea to add fiber to your dog’s meal, especially if she’s on dry food. You have many options such as those by Protexin who also add prebiotics in the mixture.
Tartar is a very serious problem in dogs and it can trigger a range of illnesses. Your dog’s bad breath is a problem, but even worse is gum disease, plaque and the infection it can cause throughout her body. If you cannot wash your dog’s teeth daily, or as some vets say, at least every other day, don’t bother. Yes, we know this is quite a challenge!
Then, you absolutely must include a sprinkle of a dental health mixture in her meal. Although there is a range of options in the market, you want to choose one that is natural, wheat free, gluten free, grain free. There is even a mixture that contains Fragaria Vesca tincture, also known as a wonder remedy to soften tartar and prevent its new formation. And yes, fresh breath is also a result of using it, so extra bonus for you :)
Although it is not until recently that the full importance of probiotics has been emphasised, there are still so many studies to do to fully understand their beneficial impact. What is certain is that they cannot harm, and the range of their healing impact is yet to be discovered. The more we know about the impact of intestinal hygiene on health and diseases, the more we will know about probiotics. They are already within us, they are the beneficial bacteria within every living creature. But, dogs have more of those than we do and a different kind of bacteria. And yes, by using antibiotics and corticosteroids, these reserves get diminished.
So especially if your dog is on a medical treatment, do not miss giving him probiotics along with the remedy she has been prescribed. The same goes if you have opted for giving your dog raw food. There’s a lot of debate around this, but there can be a health risk if the meat carries bacteria. Probiotics are a good way to protect your dogs from these, such as salmonella. Protexin even developed a Synbiotic formula which also contains prebiotics, which further stimulate the growth of the beneficial bacteria found in probiotics.
Parsley is great for cleaning kidneys. You can make parsley tea which is very rich in vitamin C, freeze it as ice cubes and just give one each time you feed your dog. They barely notice it in their food as it’s of very light taste. Spirulina is also good. It contains a lot more carotene than carrots, amino acids and vitamin B. It even has the same amount of magnesium, phosphorus and calcium as milk, so that’s why it’s great for us too. Turmeric does a great job in supporting the liver. Beetroot is powerful in cleansing blood. There’s a lot of reading you can do online but even if you only add parsley, you will notice your dog getting more energised. Try it yourself and see the difference. But for the busy ones, business-talented pet lovers have also come up with a ready mixtures of greens.
Neutered dogs need special food. They need fewer calories to avoid gaining weight. Luckily, there is rarely a dog food brand that does not contain a line for neutered dogs. Now, not neutered dogs, on the other hand, just like girls, need help dealing with PMS. So, extend the same courtesy to your dog by helping her maintain a hormonal balance more easily in a natural manner. Pulsatila does wonders in soothing such irritable symptoms and the overall system.
At this stage, your dog will benefit from collagen and glucosamine to support their joints. It is also good to start taking these before any major issues such as hip dysplasia take place, especially if you know that your dog’s breed is susceptible to this.
So how will you know if your dog is properly fed?
How will you know if the food you are giving your dog is good for her? It’s simple, you need to answer the following questions. Does your dog have healthy skin? Does she have a shiny coat? Is her energy level good, considering her age and breed characteristics? Are her stools firm and brown? If only one of these answers is no, you should definitely consult your vet and consider changing her diet. A healthy diet is a clear yes to all these questions.