nutrition and dogs

How much do you know about dog nutrition? What do you feed your dog? Do you cook for your dog? Feed kibble or raw?
There is no right or wrong answer here.

I am first and foremost a “dog trainer”. I’m not an expert in nutrition, but I can guarantee neither is your vet; unless either trainer or vet has taken specialty courses in nutrition (I have taken courses on dog nutrition). This is an area that a lot of trainers venture into and become quite educated in this topic. Am I an expert? No. Am I informed? Absolutely.

There are arguments about kibble vs raw. Which is better?

Well common sense tells you food that is less processed is obviously better. Fresh is better than packaged. But fresh comes with a hefty price tag, is hard to travel to and from dog shows with or trips to the cottage and can be messy. It’s really a personal choice.

My option stems from a common sense approach. I won’t go anti kibble on you and I won’t demand people cook for their dog or feed raw. It’s what works for you, your lifestyle, your dog’s health and your budget. I personally feed kibble, but the key is to supplement. I used to feed raw for years. My 2 dogs did well on it. My large Doberman did not. He lost a lot of weight and had digestive issues. Yes, I tried many different raw programs and sources. It didn’t matter. He lost so much weight that his hip bones were showing and it wasn’t healthy for him and his coat was dull. Trying to find a kibble for him wasn’t easy either, but I did and finally all is good. The point is to watch your dog. Their eyes, skin, coat and mood/energy, movements, will tell you what you need to know. Yes, switching formulas can sometimes upset their tummy, but they adjust and move on. If they have upset tummy constantly and it doesn’t clear up in a week then the food is not right. Use common sense. For a quick fix, feed pure canned pumpkin. Dogs love the taste and it’s a fiber that binds, hence helping to eliminate the upset tummy.

I’m not here to sell brands of food. There are tons of options for clients to pick and choose from and keeping in mind budgets too. I like to supplement. I do not think kibble is a fully balanced meal. To balance it out more, I add salmon oil to their diet daily. Because Zeus is a very active large dog, he also gets a hip and joint supplement. I also give them raw eggs occasionally, sardines in water, and tripe. All of these sources give your dogs a really nutritious, more balanced meal.

Salmon oil:

Fish oil is useful in the treatment of kidney problems (frequent urination, loss of appetite). It can also help the early onset of joint problems, like arthritis. Salmon oil can also help alleviate inflammation, fights heart disease, and prevents renal disease. It can also be a preventative against cancer. If you want a shiny healthy coat for your dog: feed salmon oil.

Sardines:

Are a great source of lean protein. A healthy growing dog needs protein in their diet to help maintain their vitality, strength, and overall health. Eating Sardines can help the dog lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Sardines are low In saturated fats and just like humans, having too much-saturated fat in a dog’s diet can be harmful to their health. Sardines are packed full of nutrients such as Omega-3 and other Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that must be gained through the diet. The nice thing about sardines are they are cheaper to feed then other sources of protein. I often will look for them on sale and buy in bulk at the grocery store (packed in water only).

Raw Eggs:

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, linoleic acid, riboflavin, folate, iron, selenium and vitamins A and B12.
Fatty acids are found in eggs. Eggshells contain calcium and phosphorus, which are especially important for growing dogs. The shells also contain protein. Cooked eggs are good for dogs, but cooking destroys a portion of the nutritional benefits, such as the amino acids, making raw eggs a better option. Mixing raw egg into a dog’s kibble can help entice a dog to eat and make it more palatable. I feed my dogs a raw egg once a week.

Tripe:

Probiotics. Raw green tripe contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, a type of bacteria that originates in an animal’s gut. Tripe has essential fatty acids. There is a good balance of omega-3 (an anti-inflammatory) and omega-6 fatty acids in Tripe, whether raw or canned. Tripe contains digestive enzymes, which can aid the digestive process by breaking down food and making nutrients more accessible (think a healthy gut).

There are many things you can safely feed your dog, like some veggies and fruit, coconut oil and safe herbs. Do your research when feeding your dog. Read the labels you are feeding your dog. Basically most grocery store foods are crap. Think McDonalds for people. But some foods that are a bit cheaper are actually okay to feed your dog (like Costco brand). Do your research. And oh, vets get commission on the food they sell you. For the most part, the food sold at the clinics is CRAP. Again, read the labels (Hills).

A great site to see how well your kibble rates check out: www.dogfoodadvisor.com

The bottom line is, whatever you feed your dog, read the labels. You should be doing this for you and your family, when buying groceries. Why not do it for your dog? If you feed raw, do your research. It’s not about just giving dogs raw ground beef and chicken thighs. It has to be a completely balanced diet. Do your research. Above all else, take a look at your dog. If their coat is shiny, their eyes bright, movements normal, don’t change their diet. They are doing just fine. 🙂