Feeding your dog with food that contains high quality nutrients is vital to his health and character. Eating is not everything: it´s necessary to provide him with a balanced diet that has all the vitamins and nutrients. In this article we will learn what kind of food is good for your pet, what should be avoided at all costs and how to recognize if your dog has a balanced or poor diet. We´ll also look at what our attitude should look like when feeding our dog.
In animal species, food is strongly influenced by hierarchy. Access to it is established in order of dominance within the group: it´s a symbol of hierarchical position. The dominant dog will eat in front of the other ones while they await submissively for the leftover food scraps. Many of the owners, seeking affection from their pet, will break this ritual handing broken biscuits, sweets and candies, or allowing their dog to master the situation with grunts, groans and whining until he gets what he wants. In this scenario, the dog has taken a leadership role and its owner has entered the place of submission.
As a responsible pet owner you must know that what your dog eats can influence his mood and choosing the best food for him will depend on the breed, growth stage (puppy, adult, old), type of activity (sports, active, inactive), as well as frequency and quantity of food. You should also choose a product which is nutritious, with good flavor and few to none chemical additives.
Which nutrients are essential for my dog´s health?
Proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water are important to keep his body in good condition.
Protein is an essential constituent of all body cells. They carry oxygen to the blood, strengthen the immune system and maintain muscle tissue.
Essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) are essential for the development of the brain and nervous system.
Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are also necessary, aiding in the formation of bones and teeth; sodium and potassium, on the other hand, regulate cell metabolism and balance of fluids.
Vitamins are essential for the development of vision, immune system, skin and absorption of calcium (important for bone formation).
What type of food does my puppy need?
When lactation is over (about 5-6 weeks) they´re still in a process of growth and formation, hence you must provide quality food for their age and size.
Puppy food should:
– Be easily digested.
– Stimulate the immune system.
– Facilitate the assimilation of nutrients.
They have faster growth (9 – 12 months), requiring a diet richer in proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats. Proper balance between calcium and phosphorus is important to help the rapid growth of teeth and bones. As they´re more likely to have stomach problems, food shouldn´t contain corn gluten, soy or linseed (causing digestive disorders and allergies). Examples of small breeds: Yorkshire, Teckel, Chihuahua, Pekinese and Maltese.
Medium breed puppies
They need antioxidants (helping the maintenance of their immune system), fiber, protein and fatty acids (omega 3 and 6). Examples of medium breeds: Dalmatian, Doberman, Border Collie, Golden Retriever and Beagle.
Large breed puppies
Examples of large breeds are: Mastiff, Great Dane, San Bernard, Fila Brasileiro.
They need a diet:
– Rich in proteins (not recommended for dogs with liver problems) for the development of muscle mass.
– Low in carbohydrates to prevent overweight.
– Containing suitable minerals for bone weight control. This will prevent diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
X-ray of dog with dysplasia
Always make sure that your puppy has clean, fresh water to drink, especially after meals.
What type of food does my adult dog need?
The appropriate daily dose of food varies according to his age, weight and activity level. Try to buy food made with natural ingredients to ensure he receives all needed nutrients such as protein, fiber, minerals, oil, fat, carbohydrates and trace elements. If your dog has a special condition such as obesity, heart or kidney problems, or pregnancy, there are specific products for each case.
What type of food does my old dog need?
Nutritional needs will be different from the previous stages. His digestive system, metabolism and activity level is slower, and therefore requires less protein and calories.
– Avoid providing a lot of food in a single feeding. Is best to feed him several times a day with a smaller amount of food. His digestive system will thank you for it.
– Provide vitamin E and B supplement.
– Provide foods low in fat and high in fiber to avoid constipation problems of old age.
Don´t make these mistakes (applies to all breeds and ages)
– Feeding the dog while you’re at the table, as it deteriorates your image as a leader.
– Giving candies often to the dog, as it may cause obesity.
– Forcing him to eat only reinforces this behavior, as it keeps all the owner’s attention focused toward him; this is not positive in the relationship.
Signs that indicate your dog enjoys a balanced diet
– Vitality and visible joy.
– Proper digestion.
– Shiny and healthy hair.
– Strong and flexible muscles.
Signs of an inadequate diet
– Deficient immune system, constant illnesses.
– Hair loss, dandruff and itchy skin.
– Low energy and decay.
– Digestive problems.