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What you should be feeding your dog!

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Everything you need to know about what to feed your dog. From vitamins, supplements, and super foods and the benefits of these. A healthy and balanced diet helps prolong your dogs life, improving their mood, skin, coat, and movement, whilst reducing anxiety.


Dogs' require sufficient nutrients and minerals in order for them to maintain energy, boost their immune system, and repair body tissues. A healthy diet also helps your dogs have sound gut and stools, ( We want this, especially when people walk in poo) increase dental health/breath and improves your dogs skin/coat and overall behaviour/wellbeing.


This is everything you need to know about what to feed your dog and enhance their life and in turn yours. The amount you should be feeding your dog is based on their size, and how much energy they burn (active working dogs obviously need more). If your dog isn't doing much exercise, and you are feeding them too much, or too much of the wrong type, it will lead to an overweight dog. In time, this will cause heath, and mobility issues such as leg/back issues from carrying excess weight. Health wise overweight dogs are prone to cancers, liver disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure just to mention a few.


Dinner time for mine. Raw premium human grade beef, with blended vegetables, herbs and spices, sardines, greek yoghurt, heart, liver, blueberries. Along with their extra supplements of 4cyte, Rose- Hip Vital, and Kelp powder.


 

Why is Diet so important?


Just like humans and the age old saying "you are what you eat" it is the same for our furry friends. What you feed your dog can have a huge impact on their life. Diet is so important for our dogs behaviour, skin/coat, allergies, anxiety, and their overall health.


A healthy animal will have a shiny coat, and healthy skin. For a dog to maintain that shiny healthy coat/skin they will not just need to use a great shampoo and conditioner product, but it comes from what they eat. Dogs must have a balanced diet of;

  • Carbohydrates

  • Proteins

  • Minerals

  • Vitamins

  • Fats

Whereas a Poor diet can lead to:

  • constipation

  • underweight or overweight

  • dull skin and coat

  • allergies

  • diarrhoea or loose stools

  • poor teeth

  • bad breath

  • skin conditions

  • digestive issues

  • malnutrition

  • health issues

  • poor behaviour

  • Hair loss

  • greater susceptibility to infection and disease

  • deformities in growth

Did you know that foods are often the cause for skin allergies with dogs? Dogs' with food allergy dermatitis usually have skin related symptoms such as inflamed red skin, itchy bites etc, however they can also present themselves as vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs that are itchy all the time (no seasonal link), and even after a bath the cause is oftento food allergies. Food related skin allergies can be diagnosed and controlled by a special diet.


Are you over having to pick up smelly and sloppy poos in your backyard? Here is WHAT to feed your dog to help with that!


There are three main components of food which are essential for your dog to have healthy digestion and therefore, a healthy diet. These are; carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Other nutrients, minerals, vitamins and water are absorbed in their food. Digestion is the process of where food is eaten, is then broken down into smaller, simpler compounds and the body uses it as a source of energy, growth, and it is how the dogs' repair their tissues an immune system.

Did you know A dog's digestive tract is about 6 times his body length and a meal typically takes 7-10 hours to pass through his body. That's why it is important to provide high quality nutrition that helps promote a healthy digestive tract.


So what is your dogs' daily requirements you ask?


Carbohydrates such as starches are needed to break down into simple sugars which is directly absorbed into the blood stream and converted into a source of energy. However, starch must always be cooked to make it digestible for your dog.


Proteins are needed for growth, tissue maintenance and repair, whilst an important structural component of enzymes and hormones.

So lets look a little deeper into proteins. Protein is a complex molecule that is made up into smaller units called Amino acids. There is 20 different amino acids required for your dog. 10 of these Essential amino acids must be taken as apart of their diet as they can not be synthesised into their body. Amino acids can be destroyed by heat, therefore it is so important you don't cook your dogs' meat as it will lower the nutritional value for your dog.

When I give my dogs their meals, it is always raw meat, mixed in with vegetables, and supplements so they can have the best nutritional meals.


Fat I know a lot of you will cringe when you see add fat to your dogs' diet, but it is healthy natural fats. Fat provides more than twice the energy per gram than either carbohydrates or protein. Fat is critical when a concentrated energy source is needed such as growing puppies or lactating dogs'. Unsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids (EFA's), if your dog isn't getting enough it will result in a dull skin and coat, slow healing of wounds, and possibly poor reproductive performance. Did you know that fats are a source of soluble vitamins A, D, and K and by having these extra vitamin's in your dogs' diet it improves not only the taste, which will enhance your dogs' enjoyment and willingness to eat.


What minerals your dog should be having!


Minerals are very important, but it is the balance of minerals in your dogs's diet that is critical, along with the range and quantity. Minerals include:

  1. Calcium- which can be found in bones, milk and cheese. The main functions include; bone and teeth formation, along with nerve and muscle function. If you dog isn't getting enough calcium it can result in poor growth, rickets, and convulsions. However, if you feed your dog too much calcium it can result in bone deformities, impaired skeletal development, and can interfere with the absorption of zinc.

  2. Phosphorus- is found in bones and milk. The main function of Phosphorus is bone formation and energy. Too little phosphorus can result in rickets, whereas, too much interferes with calcium absorption and metabolism.

  3. Potassium- is found in meat, and milk. The main purpose of Potassium is to balance the water and nerves. If your dog isn't getting enough Potassium it can lead to poor growth, paralysis, kidney and heart lesions. Whereas, too much potassium can lead to muscular weakness.

  4. Magnesium- is found in cereals, bones, and green vegetables. This is an important component of the skeleton, as it is necessary for muscle contraction and nervous impulse transmission involved with energy metabolism, and protein synthesis. Too much magnesium leads to calcification of soft tissue, neuromuscular abnormalities, anorexia, vomiting and muscular weakness whereas, too much leads to diarrhoea.

  5. Iron- Is found in eggs, meat such as liver, and green vegetables. Iron helps oxygen carry proteins blood and muscle (Haemoglobin and Myoglobin). If your dog has an iron deficiency they will become weak, show signs of fatigue and anaemic. Too much iron can cause weight loss and anorexia.

  6. Copper- Is found in meat and bones. It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. It also helps Enzymatic reactions to occur which is critical for normal pigmentation of skin and hair. Copper deficiency leads to anaemic, and impaired bone growth, too much copper can cause liver disease.

  7. Zinc- Is found in cereals and meat. Zinc is essential for many enzyme systems involving proteins and carbs. It aids with metabolism, which is is necessary for maintaining skin, coat and tissue maintenance. A Zinc deficiency causes hair loss, depigmentation, impaired growth, reproductive failure, skin lesions and thickening. Too much Zinc causes diarrhoea and can also interfere with their calcium and copper absorption.

  8. Manganese- Is found in nuts and cereals. Its function is a fat metabolism, multiple enzyme functions, and help formation of cartilage. A deficiency can lead to impaired growth, and reproductive failure. Too much can cause albinism (the result of cells that can't produce melanin, the pigment needed to colour skin, eyes, hair etc), and anaemia.

  9. Iodine- is found in fish and dairy produce. This helps the thyroid hormone to regulate bodies metabolic rate. An Iodine deficiency leads to hair loss, lack of interest (apathy), drowsiness, and Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).

  10. Selenium- Is found in fish and cereals. It helps the immune system development, along with joint, skin and coat health. A deficiency causes joint issues, thyroid disease, and increased susceptibility to cancers. If you have too much Selenium it can be toxic for dogs.


Shadow, Zoe and Phoenix so healthy inside, and out!

What vitamins your dog should be having!


When it comes to vitamins and your dogs' diet it can be broken down into two groups: the fat soluble vitamins which consists of A, D, E, and K, and the other water soluble vitamins of B, and C. A balanced diet with high quality foods will supply all the necessary vitamins for your dog. Any excess fat soluble vitamins not needed, and stored can be harmful as they are stored in the liver. Here is a breakdown of how your dog is getting its natural vitamins.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A- this is found in fish, oils, liver and vegetables. The main function of vitamin A for your dog is to help their vision in poor light, and to also maintain skin health. If a deficiency is present it can lead to night blindness, and skin lesions. Too much vitamin A can cause anorexia, pain in bones, and bone malformation.

Vitamin D- is found in Cod-liver, oil, eggs, and animal products. It's main function is to balance calcium, and bone growth. A deficiency causes Ricketts (soft and deformed bones), and osteomalacia (softening of the bones). too much vitamin D can cause anorexia, and calcification of soft tissues.

Vitamin E- is found in green vegetables, vegetable oils, and dairy products. Vitamin E helps with reproduction, therefore, if you don't have enough your dog will have infertility issues, anaemia, and muscle weakness.

Vitamin K- is found in spinach, and green vegetables, its main function is blood clotting, so if your dog is deficient, and if something was to happen, there would be at risk of haemorrhaging.

Water Soluble Vitamins

B-Group- Thiamine (B1)- This can be found in dairy products, cereals and meat, and it helps your dog to release energy from carbohydrates. If your dog has a deficiency it can cause anorexia, vomiting, and paralysis.

Riboflavin (B2)- is found in milk, and animal tissue to help your dog to utilise its energy. If your dog isn't getting enough it can lead to weight loss, weakness, collapse, and coma.

Niacin- is found in cereals, liver, meat, and legumes, and is used for energy, however, if a deficiency occurs it can cause anorexia and ulceration of the mouth (black tongue).

I know there is so much information, but in general this is why I make up raw meat and vegetables to provide the healthy balanced diet.

How much you should be feeding your dog!


The amount you should be feeding your dog depends on how much energy they burn, and the stage of their life i.e. puppies need more food, and obviously pregnant/lactating dogs. Each dog has their own individual requirements, and their food intake should be monitored by how much they burn. If you feed them too much they will quickly become overweight. The weather can also impact on their intake. Some adult dogs' are fed just once a day, whilst others are fed twice a day.


Whereas, puppies and growing dogs' can be fed three to four times a day of essential more concentrated food. This is to be GRADUALLY reduced to two meals as the dog approaches his mature body weight.


Working dogs are generally fed a high fat diet to ensure they have enough calories consumed. They often use puppy food and may need to feed two or three times the adult requirement. This also depends on the dogs' work schedule.


Older/senior dogs' loss muscles as they get older, and their metabolism changes, and their overall energy levels may be less than what they previously were. Older dogs have a tendency to put on weight (don't we all), and can have digestive issues. It is recommended to divide their daily intake into several small, highly digestible meals if possible.


Unfortunately in today's society there is a lot of overweight dogs', and this is because we are overfeeding them. Here is some tips on how to slim down and monitor your dogs' weight:

  • monthly weight check

  • DON'T give your dog scraps, or left overs (this is the one of the quickest ways for your dog to put on weight).

  • exercise your dog more

  • count how many calories they have and compare to what they should be having. For example a 30kg dog should be having 1410 calories a day so if your dog is eating more than this you should cut back their intake.

Raw Diets- My dogs are fed a raw diet that consists of bones, meat, vegetables, legumes, and seafood. I have tried them with offal but they have refused to eat it. I feed mine bones at least once a week, and they are always raw. NEVER FEED YOUR DOG COOKED BONES! they can splinter and get lodged in your dogs' digestive tract. I always supervise my dogs' when they eat bones, to ensure they don't choke on anything. Bones are great as they are a high source of calcium, great enrichment, a natural way for dogs' to decompress, and improves dental hygiene. Always make sure you choose bones that are the appropriate size for your dog.


Grains and Legumes- it is beneficial for them to be fed together in equal amounts as this makes food that is correctly balanced for amino acids, and also for phosphorus and calcium, just ensure they are cooked before feeding. Many commercial dog food companies use large amount of grain, as it is cheap and easily accessed.


What super foods should you add to your dogs' diet?


When changing your dogs' diet, remember to do it gradually, otherwise you can make them sick. Start off slow, and by adding a little bit at a time to their diet. Here is a list of some superfoods for your dog:

  • Sardines and Anchovies provide huge benefits by improving your dogs skin and coat, as well as supporting their heart, brain, and joint health thanks to the high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.

  • Bone broth is a nutritional dense treat high in protein and contains anti-inflammatory amino acids, vitamins, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. This supports joint health, and can stop the progression of degenerative joint diseases.

  • Carrots are great for boosting immune health, eyes, whilst improving your dogs skin and coat. They are high in fibre, which aids in digestion, and raw carrots are great for cleaning teeth and gums, whilst being low calorie. Tip on hot days freeze some carrots for them as a cool treat.

  • Chia Seeds are great as they regulate blood sugar, full of protein, fibre magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and calcium. They boost your dogs' immune system, improve skin and coat, support joints, and helps intestinal health. 1/4 teaspoon per 4.5kg of your dogs body weight.

  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Studies have shown that dogs who eat green leafy vegetables reduce their risk of cancer by 90%, and dogs that ate yellow/orange vegetables such as carrots reduced their cancer risk by 70%. They are also great for calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K, and they also are a high fibre source.

  • Eggs are fantastic for your dogs skin, coat, and are a great digestive aid. Eggs are full of protein, amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids and nutrition.

  • Ginger is great as an anti-inflammatory, also helps soothe digestive issues, has cancer fighting components, and helps in relieving arthritis.

  • Olive oil is fantastic for fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6, and helps to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, whilst improving skin, coat. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Be mindful of how much to add to your dogs diet. Limit it to one teaspoon per 9kg body weight per day.

  • Parsley is a superfood that contains vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid, and antioxidants. It helps with anti-inflammatory, whilst also supporting your dogs' immune system, kidneys, joints and urinary tract. One of the biggest benefits for us as owners.... it freshens up your dogs breath. Don't overfeed your dog parsley as it can be harmful. One teaspoon per 9kg of body weight for your dog. Spring parsley should not be given to your dog as it is high in Furanocoumarin.

  • Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which enhances your dogs' immune system, eye health, and skin/coat. Pumpkin is high in soluble fibre which helps in relieving diarrhoea, and also helping with constipation. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, iron and calcium.

  • Turmeric is a superfood used for both humans and dogs. It has a wonderful anti-inflammatory component, along with antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It is also used to improve arthritis symptoms, to fight cancer, and support liver and gastrointestinal functions.

  • Watermelon contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer, whilst also being full of amino acids, vitamins A, B, C, potassium, and magnesium. It is great for your dogs' kidney and liver whilst being a good source of fibre. Make sure you feed small amounts, AND REMOVE ALL SEEDS AND RIND as these can cause blockages.

  • Greek yoghurt has fantastic probiotics, which is vital for gut health, which in case boosts their immune system. Make sure you give them unsweetened, and start off on small amounts, as it can upset some dogs stomachs initially.

  • Kale is a superfood high in vitamins, E, A, and C whilst also a great source of antioxidants, which helps the liver, and has an anti-inflammatory component.

  • Quinoa is high in amino acids, a great source of fibre, folate, magnesium, iron, phosphorus. It is a source of protein while being a high antioxidant which helps reduce the risk of diabetes.

  • Blueberries can be fed to your dog fresh or as frozen treats. They are rich antioxidants, and a great source of vitamin C, E, magnesium, and fibre. Human studies have since suggested that blueberries can slow down Alzheimer's so it's a great food for you and your dog to eat.

Supplements

There is a time and place for supplements. As mine are senior dogs now, I have added more supplements to their diet such as 4cyte, Rose-Hip, and Kelp powder to help with muscles, joints, and arthritis. You can also purchase supplements for digestive issues, skin/coat etc.


My dogs with their supplements



Just a caution to note The pet food industry is a multi million dollar growing industry. Companies may make claims and often use buzz words to make you believe them such as "holistic", "all natural", "grain free", "no artificial colours or flavours". They can lead you to believe that if you purchase their product, there is no need to add anything else to their diet, and that you in fact are giving them the best possible food. This isn't always the case. Do yourself a favour and check the label for sugar, protein, fats and preservatives. Do just as we do for each other.

The information many of us receive is updated material about dogs and diet, Unfortunately a lot of the studies at first glance are sponsored by or written from the pet food industry, who of course want you to buy their products... I can tell you that it always best to do your own research. Each dog is different, and some dogs need more of certain vitamins/minerals than others, whilst others may have intolerances to certain foods. I prefer to make my own dogs' food that way I know everything that goes into their meals is of the best quality. You are what you eat, and I want to give my dogs on the very best, that way in theory they will be around for as long as possible. Plus they love to eat it, and it is so good for them inside and out, and yes it shows on them.


In conclusion, we don't have our dogs for as long as we want them, so why not give them the best possible chance at a long, and healthy life, by feeding them the best. Not only will you dog be so happy, look and amazing, but they will be thanking you. Just like humans, you are what you eat. I have theory in my house, If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.... although they do eat better than me!



References:





Learning Online- Animal welfare, Vet assistant course work 2018


NDTF certificate 111 in dog behaviour and training coursework 2015

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