All of us have a favorite meal, usually based upon the taste of the food rather than its nutritional content. Our dogs are no different, with many enjoying one type of food in particular and preferring that over all else, even when it is to the detriment of their health. This in turn can lead to some fairly noticeable behavioral changes, as the dog tries to get from other sources the nutrition that it can’t obtain from its food. If this need for proper sustenance isn’t met, then your pet could be at risk of developing a serious health problem as a result, meaning that it is in their best interest for you to take an active interest in the contents of their diet. In this article, we will look at three of the most important ingredients that your dog should be receiving from its food, as well as which meals are most rich in them.
Although we all know from experience that dogs are willing to eat pretty much anything that they find in front of them, the vast majority of canines are primarily carnivorous, preferring a meat-based diet whenever possible. This is because they require a high amount of protein in order to keep their bodies functioning properly, and protein is abundant in the tissues of animals. The substance is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, in addition to being a good source of energy. More critical however, are the amino acids that can be found in meat, which the dog needs in order to keep its immune responses and nervous system functioning correctly.
However, many dog food manufacturers will often choose to bulk out their products with cereals such as corn, in order to cut down on the costs associated with meat. Whilst the dog can digest the plant matter, it is in this case mostly carbohydrates, which is of little use to the animal and will typically end up being stored as fat. Instead, protein-rich commercial dog foods will be high in their meat content, though they may utilize extruded off-cuts and low-quality parts in order to meet their targets. For these reasons, some owners may choose to prepare their own meals for the dog, using ingredients they have bought themselves. Chicken is one of the most protein-rich meats and can often be found for a low price, whilst beef tends to be more expensive but has a higher fat content, which the dog will need in order to help synthesize hormones and other substances in the body.
A dog’s level of health can often be indicated by the state of its coat, with many sick animals’ hair becoming dull and matted over time. This is usually because they are unable to produce (due to illness or malnutrition) the oils that are needed in order to keep their coat looking glossy and smooth. These oils are taken in via the dog’s food and converted for use in the body, maintaining the state of their fur, helping to prevent inflammation and improve their vascular health. The most common of these oils is ‘Omega-3’, which can be found in high levels in fish products (especially in the fat that lines their skin) and is also available as a dietary supplement in pill form. Whilst fresh fish are comparatively expensive compared to most types of off-the-shelf dog food, they do have the advantage of being easier to get the animal to eat, whereas supplement pills may have to be hidden and mixed in with the meal to avoid the dog refusing to eat them. Plant oils can also be beneficial for dogs, but only certain ones should be used, as some can prove toxic. Coconut oil is one of the safer products and can help significantly boost the dog’s ability to take care of its skin and fur.
An essential group of compounds that the dog needs in order to survive are known as ‘vitamins’. Although many vitamins can easily be obtained from the dog’s environment (such as vitamin D from direct sunlight), others are highly dependent on the animal’s diet in order to maintain healthy levels. Vitamins B and C are some of the most useful compounds, whose absence can result in conditions such as rapid weight loss, bone and joint deterioration and even dental bleeding. The most effective way to ensure the dog stays healthy in this regard is to supply them with a multivitamin supplement. This comes in the form of a pill and may have to be disguised in food or a treat in order to ensure that the dog ingests it. This group of chemicals also includes vital minerals such as calcium, which is used to strengthen the dog’s bones and teeth and maintain organ health. Whilst calcium can be given to the animal in pill form, some breeds may prefer to manually ingest it by gnawing on bones, which release the chemical when crushed. This can be much easier than trying to persuade the dog to eat a pill that it may become suspicious of, and there are even some chewable dental cleaners that contain the substance. It should be noted, however that too much calcium can be bad for the dog and result in problems such as the formation as bladder stones.
All dogs deserve to have a happy and rewarding lifestyle that helps them get the most out of their time, just as owners deserve to be able to enjoy their companionship for as long as possible. By making sure that your dog’s diet includes the three ingredients listed above, you can take one of the key steps towards guaranteeing them a rich and healthy life. By accompanying a high-quality diet with regular exercise, good hygiene and regular veterinary checkups, your dog can be steered clear of the majority of health problems that unnecessarily effect a good number household pets.