Happy, healthy dogs depend on good nutrition
Dogs are more than man’s best friends. They’re family members who depend on us. And as such it’s vital we supply them with the nutrition that will bring them a healthy and vital life.
A life rich in exercise and a balanced diet will make your dog not only healthier but also happier and more likely free of pain and disease. Aside from special needs, nearly all dogs should be able to obtain all the nutrients they need from high-quality pet foods. Now, depending on your dog’s age, the nutritional requirements will vary. But regardless of age there are several areas that all dogs need to maintain proper nutrition.
- Water – This is, of course, the most essential nutrient for a dog’s life. Water makes up nearly 70% of an adult dog’s entire body weight. Having fresh, clean water available daily for your canine is critical. Water deficiency is a serious matter as only a 10% decrease in your dog’s body water can cause serious illness. Keep that water available for him or her always, regardless of where your pet is.
- Carbohydrates – These building blocks provide energy, are important for healthy reproduction and bring health to the intestines. Carbs provide glucose, which provides critical energy to the major organs. Oats, whole wheat, barley, corn and brown rice are all good sources of carbohydrates. Ancillary to carbohydrates are fibers which help manage proper digestions and food assimilation. Canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes and beet pulp are excellent sources of additional fiber.
- Proteins – One of the most comprehensive sources of cell, tissue, hormone and antibody building blocks, proteins are critical for growth, maintenance, repair and overall equilibrium for dogs. There are a wide variety of foods that supply a high source of protein such as chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, and fish. Eggs, also an excellent source of amino acids, are rich in protein as are many vegetables.
- Fats – Though fats are the most concentrated form of energy via food, they’re also needed for cell structure, hormone production and assist in the absorption and efficiency of vitamins and minerals. Meat fats, such as beef, chicken and pork are good sources of fat. Also, canola and fish oil are excellent sources of healthy fat.
Types of Food
Pros & Cons
- Wet – One of the advantages of wet food is that it augments the water dogs need in their diet. Wet food also has a stronger scent and flavor than dry foods and is therefore generally more appealing to dogs. And they are typically high in protein, vitamins and minerals. For older dogs that have lost teeth, this is also a good option. From a con vantage point, wet food can be messier and has a short shelf life once opened. Wet food also tends to be more expensive.
- Dry – Dry food bits are the most convenient for storage, feeding and price. The shelf life for dry food is long and can be left in a bowl for days at a time without spoiling for those dogs that like to graze. Typically, dry food is a better for a dog’s teeth as well. One of the only disadvantages of dry food is its lack of water, especially for older dogs.
Stages of Life
- Puppies – After a puppy is weaned from its mother, you’ll want to start with small quantities of food and gradually increase the amount of food you serve them. Puppies should be eating their own dry food after being weaned at seven to eight weeks. Because of their growth rate puppies require a lot of energy intake, nearly twice that of an adult dog, so foods containing upwards of 30% protein is generally what they need. And it should be noted that a dog reaching adult size is determined by its genetics, not by how fast the canine grows. Puppies typically reach their adult body weight between nine months to one year. Also be mindful of not overfeeding puppies; controlled feeding is best at this stage.
- Adult Dogs – Maintaining energy levels and repairing body tissues through adulthood is the primary concern of nutrition for adult dogs. It’s always a good idea to consult with your Vet as to the ideal portions for your dog but you’ll also begin to learn what is ideal for them based on their own energy level and size. Depending on breed and size an average adult dog should be served between ½ cup and 2 cups of of dry food per day (a Chihuahua, for example would take 1/4-3/4’s cups where as a Mastiff would eat 2-4 cups per day). Mixing dry and wet food together is perfectly okay and many dogs appreciate the flavor combo.
- Senior Dogs – As a dog ages its metabolism slows. Maintaining optimum health and proper body weight should always be the goal when feeding our older dogs. Again, the dog’s size will determine the portion for the diet. Be careful of not reducing the protein content when adjusting your senior dog’s diet. Studies have shown that a dog’s protein requirements doesn’t decrease with age and should still be a critical component of their diet. You will want to watch your dog’s caloric intake as their bodies will naturally want to put on weight as they get older. Other considerations for older dogs are the addition of Omega-6 fatty acids that will assist in healthy skin and coats and is diminished in older dogs, as well as foods with high levels of vitamin E and Beta-Carotene which help get rid of free particles that can damage body tissues. Senior dogs can also benefit from antioxidants which will help boost their immune system.
Coastal has an array of food products to choose from that will fit the nutritional needs of your dog. We also have an array of supplements, treats and medicine to help give your pet comprehensive health.
Our dogs are very special to us. Maintaining their proper nutrition and a consistency to daily feeding and water will go a long way to giving them a healthy and long life.