Tips On Treating & Feeding Pets Healthier Choices
By Sloan McKinney
We all want our pets to be happy and healthy, so we want them to eat well and have a balanced diet. Where do we begin? Pet nutrition isn’t that hard unless your pet is on a special diet. It is a question of knowing what to look for and what is best for your pet. Small dogs require different caloric intake than larger dogs, and all dogs need the right balance of nutrients in order to thrive. Here are some tips to guide you in the right direction!
Complete and Balanced Nutrition
Making sure your dog gets all the right nutrients is the biggest challenge of your pet’s health, but also the most important. Asking your vet for advice can help, and so can learning some pet food recipes to make at home. The trick is to ensure a proper diet over about a week, so if meals one day are heavy on one nutrient but light on another, there is no cause for panic. However, ensuring that your dog gets all the nutrients it needs over the course of a week is very important, especially with smaller and younger dogs.
Meat Is a Must
Part of that nutrition is making sure your dog’s diet includes about fifty percent meat of different types. This may be uncomfortable for people who don’t eat meat products themselves, but a dog’s nutrition requires meat and animal by-products. In fact, don’t be afraid of feeding your dog animal by-products such as intestines, liver, and kidneys. They contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial to dogs, even though they’re undesirable to humans. Stripping the skin or fat from meat or other simple preparations can reduce the amount of needed nutrients your dog consumes. Despite dogs in the wild consuming raw meat, veterinarians do not recommend feeding uncooked meat to pets.
Reading Labels Properly
We should always read food labels, and this is no less important when feeding your dog. The ingredients are listed in order by weight in the recipe, from the most to the least. Careful reading, however, may reveal some tricks companies use to increase the bottom line. One of these is to list an ingredient in different forms, such as cornmeal, corn gluten, and ground corn, all of which are corn, and taken together might consist of a higher percentage, raising its position on the ingredient list. Something to look for would be mention of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Other terms to seek out include terms like “complete and balanced nutrition,” “light,” “reduced,” or “low calorie,” which are all terms that are regulated in advertising. Don’t fall for fancy words like “gourmet” or “premium,” either. They are not regulated and have no meaning.
Homemade Is Hard Work
Making your dog’s food on your own is a matter of study, cost, and time consumption. The study comes from knowing what nutrients your dog needs based on your dog’s type. The ingredients can be a little more costly than buying pet food. The study, selection, and preparation of complete and balanced foods for your dog can take up a lot of your time. If your lifestyle is busy, this may not be an option. Even if you simply mean well, one of the biggest mistakes pet owners make is not selecting the right balance of nutrition or imposing a more strict diet than the dog needs, which can lead to health problems for the dog later on. Taking on the responsibility of making your dog’s food yourself is no casual affair. If you like to cook, however, and have the time to devote to it, it can be very rewarding!
Know Your Dog’s Needs
The single most important tip anyone can give you about your dog is to know its needs. You can do this by breed, or by weight, or by activity. Larger dogs, for example, are more prone to arthritis while smaller dogs, like Norwich terriers, are not as active. Visiting a reputable website can give you valuable insight on your dog’s needs, both at mealtime and everyday!
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.