What Kind of Dog Food Does Your Dog Need?
When it comes to dog food, good nutrition is as important to your dog's health as it is to your own. But his nutritional needs are quite different from yours! In general, while a human diet should be high-fiber and low in fat, a dog needs more fat (for energy and a healthy skin and coat) and less fiber (for good intestinal health).
Even if you prefer a vegetarian diet, designing a high-quality dog diet without animal protein is difficult. IAMS™ Company research supports that meatless meals do not provide optimal nutrition for dogs. Dogs are best fed as carnivores because they have simple stomachs and short intestines that are ideal for digesting animal protein and animal fat. Dogs also need carbohydrates for energy.
Life Stage and Lifestyle
With thousands of different pet foods available, how do you pick the one that's right for your dog?
Start by identifying the dog's life stage and lifestyle. Puppies, nursing mothers, and mature pets are examples of life stages. And each one has different nutritional requirements. All dog foods must state which life stage they are recommended for.
Nutritional needs also vary depending on lifestyle. A dog whose primary activity is guarding the couch doesn’t need as much energy as one who guards a flock of sheep. Another factor to consider is breed size: small, medium, or large.
Finally, consider any special medical condition your dog might have, such as food allergies, that might require your veterinarian to recommend a special diet.
Dry or Wet?
Once you've determined your dog's life stage and lifestyle needs, you need to decide whether to feed dry or canned food. Most dogs do well eating only dry food. Dry foods, such as IAMS ProActive Health™ Adult MiniChunks, promote oral hygiene for healthy teeth and gums through abrasive chewing action. Some dogs, especially finicky eaters, enjoy wet food because of its smooth, wet texture.
It's important to remember that, while dry food can be left in a bowl all day, wet food should be thrown away after 30 minutes if not consumed. So, dry food is the best choice for busy people who are not normally home during the day.
Once you know your pet’s nutritional needs and your pet's preference, you are ready to go shopping.
Ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight. Because dogs thrive on animal-based diets, it's best to pick a food in which the first ingredient is an animal-based protein source, such as chicken, lamb, fish or egg. Unlike a single vegetable-based protein source, such as soybean meal or corn-gluten meal, these ingredients contain a full complement of essential amino acids.
Scientific studies show that using a combination of carbohydrates in the diet, such as corn meal or barley and grain sorghum, offers optimal carbohydrate digestibility and helps maintain energy levels.
Scientific studies also show that beet pulp, the material remaining after sugar is extracted from sugar beets, is an excellent fiber source and promotes a healthy digestive tract.
For a glossy coat and healthy skin, your pet needs fat in the diet. Good fat sources include chicken fat and fish oil.
Dog-food labels provide limited information about the nutritional value of the food because labeling regulations do not allow manufacturers to describe the quality of ingredients on the package.
A reputable pet food manufacturer will be able to explain to you their specific methods for evaluating and assuring the quality of ingredients used in their products.
When choosing food, the price on the bag, while important, is usually not the best consideration. A low price might indicate inexpensive ingredients, or ingredients that change as market prices fluctuate.
Also, many lower-priced products have higher daily portions to provide the same amount of nutrition found in a high-quality diet. To get a better representation of value, it is the cost per feeding, not the total cost, that counts.
To figure cost per feeding, divide the total cost by the number of days the product lasts. For example, a 20-lb bag of food costs $18.99 and lasts 30 days. The cost to feed is $0.63 per day. A 20-lb bag of food that costs $15.99 and lasts 20 days costs $0.80 per day. So, when costs are analyzed properly, high-quality pet foods compare quite favorably to other brands while offering outstanding nutrition.
The Look of a Healthy Diet
Here are some signs of health to look for in your dog:
- Strong, white teeth and pink, healthy gums
- Supple skin and glossy coat
- Firm muscles in legs
- Energetic, enthusiastic personality
- Small, firm stools without excessive odor
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- adp_description_block185How to Keep Your Adult or Mature Dog’s Heart Healthy
About 10% of all dogs develop some form of heart disease during their lifetime, and that risk increases with their age. We know you want to keep their heart healthy because they keep your heart happy. Here are some ways you can help your dog’s ticker stay in tip-top shape.
Feed a healthy diet.
A healthy diet affects every part of your dog’s body, including their big loyal heart. Being overweight makes the heart work harder, so make sure they eat a healthy, nutritious diet every day. And keep those treats to a minimum — no matter how much they beg.
Make sure they get regular exercise.
Dogs dig cardio, and it’ll do your heart good, too. Whether you both prefer fetch, running, walks, surfing, whatever ... it’s all good as long as it gets your dog’s heart pumping.
Be a heartworm-hater.
Heartworms are nasty — and sometimes deadly — parasites that infect dogs through mosquito bites. Like their name suggests, they live and breed in a dog’s heart, lungs and blood vessels. Fortunately, there are a number of preventive medications your dog can take to keep them safe. Check with your vet for options that work best for you and your pup.
Brush your dog’s teeth.
Plaque, tartar and bacteria in your dog’s mouth can get into their bloodstream and cause heart issues. Brushing their teeth and giving occasional dental treats can help keep their smiles bright and hearts healthy.
Know the dog breeds most susceptible to heart disease.
Some breeds, such as Chihuahuas, miniature and toy poodles, boxers, English bulldogs and Great Danes, are more prone to heart disease. If your pet is one of these breeds, keep a watchful eye out for the signs of heart issues, and talk to your vet about possible preventive measures you can take.
Know the signs of heart disease in dogs.
Some symptoms of heart disease in dogs include:
- Frequent coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of energy
- Tiring easily or not wanting to play or go for walks
- Changes in weight
- Trouble sleeping
- A swollen abdomen
However, these symptoms could be indicative of many health issues, so you should consult your vet to be sure.
Go to regular vet checkups.
One dog year is about five to seven people years, and a lot can happen in that time. Regular vet visits, especially for older dogs, can help identify problems early on so you can start treating them sooner.
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