BASIC FACTS ABOUT DOG NUTRITION
When it comes to our dog’s nutrition, it can be hard to know what is safest for our four-legged best friends. We all care about ensuring our dogs are the happiest and healthiest they can be, yet sometimes the question remains…How do we know what the healthiest choices are?
1. DOGS CAN EAT “PEOPLE FOOD” (ALSO KNOWN AS “REAL FOOD”).
For many years, you’ve heard people say not to give your dog “people food”. And it’s true, you shouldn’t be throwing your pup a hotdog, but if you’re eating nutritious, whole foods, they’re likely the same healthy ingredients your dog should be eating, too.
For a full list of “People Foods” that are safe or toxic for dogs, you can use this handy infographic!
2. BALANCE IS EVERYTHING.
Dogs need a balanced diet that provides a variety of nutrients. A healthy diet should be mostly protein with nutrient-rich vegetables, complemented by healthy oils and vitamins.
3. FRESH IS BEST.
Like you, your dog is healthiest with fresh, not processed, foods. When eating healthier, we know to look for fresh, real foods, and avoid the processed ones. The same rules apply to dog food and treats.
If you look at a food or treat and can’t tell what’s in it, that’s already a red flag. If you’re told a food will stay fresh in your cabinet or fridge for months (or years) at a time, you should wonder what kind of chemicals are making that possible!
Read also: How to identify the best food for your dog
4. THINK OF TREATS AS SNACKS.
Treats are a great way to reward your dog for good behavior between meals. But as part of a healthy diet, they should be a nutritious snack, rather than indulgent treats. Carrots, spinach, kale, cucumbers, bananas, and cantaloupe all make healthy snacks that most dogs love!
5. ‘HUMAN-GRADE’ IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ‘ORGANIC’.
Ideally, we would want our dog’s food and treats to be human-grade and organic, but that’s rarely affordable to most pet parents (and rarely offered). Realistically, most pet foods and treats are only one or the other, so: which is more important to our pet’s health?
Dr. Shmalberg says ‘human-grade’, every time. Food that is not human grade is allowed to include meat from dead, deceased, dying, and disabled animals, and other low quality ingredients deemed inadequate for humans. So, when purchasing organic ‘feed-grade’ food, you may be paying more for a label than actual higher quality ingredients. Choose human-grade, and know your pup is eating something you would!
Read also: 9 ways to enrich your dog’s life
6. SENIORS NEED AS MUCH PROTEIN AS YOUNGER DOGS.
Have a loveable senior? You may notice that some senior dog foods advertise ‘lower protein’. In reality, your dog should be eating a diet lower in phosphorus, but that doesn’t mean they should be receiving less protein. Lower quality pet foods cannot offer one without the other due to the protein ingredients they use, but any high-quality pet food should be able to!
7. WHAT’S WITH THE LONG WORDS ON DOG FOOD INGREDIENT LABELS?
Unrecognizable words on any food label are typically something we’ve learned to stay away from. But there are the good kind, and the bad kind! Google any long words on your dog’s food and treat labels. Some will be vitamins- that’s the good kind! Others will be chemical, additives, or artificial preservatives―those are the bad kind, and should be avoided!
8. AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S ABOUT HEALTH AND HAPPINESS!
Our dogs are our life, and we want nothing but the best for them! It may seem tempting to choose a bulk bag of dog food on sale, or grab a bag of silly treats without reading what’s inside. But we are what we eat, and our pets are too. If you love your dog (and we know you do), make their health and nutrition a priority, and the happiness for more years to come will follow.
Contributed by Megan spurell
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