Feeding your dog well is part of how you take care of your furry friend. And there are plenty of questions to ask when you’re choosing what, when and how much to feed your dog. What are the best ingredients to look for in your dog’s food? What does a dog need to eat to look, feel and play at their best?
Choosing which dog food is best for your pup means learning what to look for on the labels and comparing dog food ingredients. Here’s a quick guide to the nutrients your dog needs to get from their food: protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.
Why Do Dogs Need Protein?
Big or small, your dog needs their protein. Protein supplies the amino acids your dog’s body needs in order to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. It also plays an important role in helping with hormone production.
Common dog food protein sources include meat, poultry, fish and some plant ingredients like corn gluten and soybean meal. Dogs require essential amino acids that can’t all be found in the right balance in single plant-protein sources; that’s why animal-protein sources are an important part of doggie diets.
Why Do Dogs Need Carbohydrates?
Carbs provide your dog with both starches for energy and fiber to keep their digestive system moving. Plants and grains are common dog-friendly forms of carbohydrates, like the rice in IAMS™ Adult Minichunks Lamb & Rice Recipe.
Starches are made up of various types of sugar, such as glucose or fructose. Through digestion, dogs can easily convert these sugars into usable calories, or energy.
Fiber in dog food can be categorized by fermentability and the amount of bulk it provides:
- Highly fermentable fiber sources, such as vegetable gums, provide high amounts of short-chain fatty acids when broken down and little dietary bulk.
- Moderately fermentable fibers, such as beet pulp, provide both short-chain fatty acids and bulk for moving waste.
- Slightly fermentable fibers, such as cellulose, mainly provide bulk for moving waste through the digestive tract and only a small amount of short-chain fatty acids.
Why Do Dogs Need Fats?
Fat supports many of your dog’s vital body functions — it helps form cell membranes, maintain body temperature, control inflammation and most importantly provide your dog with energy (twice as much energy as carbohydrates or protein)! Fats are found in meat, poultry, fish and plant oils such as flax and vegetable oils.
Don’t be tempted to skip the fat if your dog needs to lose weight — it’s much too important. Instead, try a weight-management food like IAMS™ Adult Healthy Weight that’s designed to help their bodies get the nutrients they need while moving toward a healthier weight.
Omega Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are also an important feature of the fat your dog eats. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for skin and coat maintenance and proper membrane structure, while omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of healthy blood clotting and decreasing inflammation.
Why Do Dogs Need Vitamins and Minerals?
Vitamins are essential for promoting bone growth, blood clotting, energy production and oxidant protection. Minerals provide skeletal support and aid in nerve transmission and muscle contractions.
How Do Dogs Absorb Vitamins?
Dogs need adequate fat and water in their diets in order to absorb their vitamins properly. Vitamins A, D, E and K require fat for absorption into the body, while vitamins such as the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C need water to be absorbed into the body.
How Much Water Do Dogs Need?
Adequate water is very important for dogs, and it’s easy for them to get dehydrated quickly. Keeping the water dish fresh and full is the best way to make sure your dog gets enough water to look and feel great.
Wet dog foods contain some water already, but that’s no reason to skip refilling the water bowl! While adding water to dry food will not change its nutritional value, feeding dry food as designed is usually encouraged because of the benefit to your dog’s dental health. If you do add water to dry food, make sure your dog eats it relatively soon and discard any uneaten portion after 20 minutes to avoid spoilage.
Protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water: those are the most important things to look for in your dog’s diet. And changing the food your dog eats can make a big difference in their health and overall well-being. What they eat has an impact on everything from their energy level to the health of their skin and coat! Veterinarians recommend IAMS™.
Try an IAMS™ recipe that’s tailored to your dog’s unique size, age and breed, and get ready to See the Wow!
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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