What is the best diet for dogs?
Busting common myths in doggy diets
Understanding a dog's diet might seem like a bit of a big task. Surely they just spend most of their time eating my newspaper, my socks, local wildlife and the grass when they have a bit of a funny tummy??! If they can spend most of their time rummaging through the rubbish and still survive, is it important to have the best diet for them?
Can my dog always eat the same diet?
I love this question because as a dad-to-be, I'm looking at the weaning process for my future little one. The concept is primarily the same. For dogs, you can slowly introduce new foods and watch out for signs of sickness, diarrhoea or lethargy. If you just stay with the same diet, your dog's metabolic rate can be affected and they can process food more slowly, which can lead to weight gain and weight-associated issues, so small changes with mild variation can really help.
Are there any foods I should avoid? My dog will eat pretty much anything!
- Xylitol - any sweetener (even Stevia to an extent) can impact insulin release and lead to issues with obesity, kidney and liver function.
- Chocolate, coffee and caffeine - In very small amounts, this won't be hugely detrimental but there are huge risks associated with these. They can lead to seizures, heart issues and internal bleeding. Some dogs are lucky but let's try not to let them get too excited when you're baking!
- High salt foods - this can impact blood cholesterol, cause sickness, diarrhoea, and affect the water balance of a dog.
- Onions and raisins - there is no real rhyme or reason why these foods cause issues, but they can cause issues with the retention of iron (the oxygen carrying part) in the blood and kidney issues.
There are other foods but there is much debate to this of we go into with our nutrition course.
Raw dog food diet. What is it and should I do it?
As much as we humanise our pets, dogs are biologically designed to locate and process whatever food they can get hold of and largely, that would be meat. Raw feeding is the process of having a balanced diet based on Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods. We go into comprehensive detail within our course but, without a doubt, there are pros and cons to this...
Giving a dog food that they are naturally meant to process can be absolutely fantastic for them. The idea that they can less processed food will lower their carcinogenic activity does have some backing to it, however we also need to be aware that we have domesticated our dogs so much that their digestive systems can struggle with a largely carnivorous diet.
It can also affect behaviour, of which we'll speak about with our next question.
What part of diet affects my dog's behaviour?
Very much like us, our mood and how we process things, including the part of the brain responsible for judgements is significantly impacted by several factors:
- Water - you cannot underestimate the need for water for your dog. Whilst making sure that you don't flood your dog or risk factors including bloat and colic, you are meant to work on the concept of 0.5-1.0 fl oz per pound of body weight to keep a dog healthy.
- Balance - this may sound the most simplistic but being able to recognise what a healthy dog actually looks and acts like is essential. You should aim to have what goes in should be used. 3500 calories difference equates to 1 pound.
- Exercise - ok, so this isn't strictly about diet but exercise directly affects mood. It helps to remove cortisol and also speeds up the efficient transport of vitamins and minerals within the blood.