Often people will wait until their dog has already developed an ailment to consider changing their dogs to a more appropriate diet, but why should we treat a good diet for our dogs as palliative care, when it can also be preventative to disease and supportive of overall health. Deciding what to feed your dog isn’t something you should take lightly. Apart from exercise and mental health, diet is the biggest contributor to wellbeing.
The eating habits we set up can mean the difference between a long and healthy life and programming our dogs for failure and even if you’re happy with the current food you’re feeding, then incorporating even some of these suggestions for change will benefit your dog. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Do what you can, when you can. Some change is better than no change.
Discard the marketing hype and read the labels
No matter how entertaining, relying on advertisements for nutritional information is not ideal. Why? Because the people that produce the ads didn’t formulate the food. Their job is to make even the worst products appear healthy. Carefully examining the labels on your dog’s food and treats will help you make more informed purchases. Discuss the ingredients with the person or company recommending the products. If they can’t explain what each ingredient is, its source, why and how it’s good for dogs, then rely on your own research and judgment.
Avoid feeding shelf-stable foods as a staple diet
Thanks to clever marketing, the average consumer often overlooks the alarming reasons why processed food has a 12 to 24 month shelf life, synthetic preservatives. Marketing has conditioned us to believe that shelf-stable foods provide everything dogs need to live long and healthy lives. While there will always be the rare exception to the rule, don’t count on your dog being one of them.
Shelf-stable products have no live enzymes due to their industrial cooking processes; they are a processed food, something we are told to avoid in our own diets for optimal health. They’re dead foods that rely on synthetic supplementation to meet the supposedly “balanced” nutritional standards. Shelf stable foods have their place but fall way short of providing everything needed nutritionally when fed as a staple, daily diet.
Introduce fresh whole foods
Fresh whole foods such as vegetables and fruit are full of live enzymes and will add a new dimension to your dog’s health. Whole foods are also full of fiber, which aids digestion, encourages pooping and improves stools. Many of the nutrients are destroyed by the cooking processes that create shelf-stable foods. So the manufacturers add synthetic nutrients back into the products. These nutrients are synthetic imitations of those found in nature … and this is the vast difference between whole foods and industrially-produced foods.
Whole foods contain nutritional co-factors that work synergistically to help the body absorb, assimilate and make use of nutrients. You are not simply what you eat, but more importantly, you are what you can absorb. Do your own research on safe whole foods for dogs. There are certain fruits and vegetables that dogs must avoid; also, you’ll be amazed at which parts of the vegetables are the most nutritious.
Feed a variety of ingredients rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation is a major cause of disease so it’s important to research all ingredients in your dog’s diet, along with the manufacturing processes. Inflammation is the leading cause of premature aging, not only in dogs, but in people, commercial foods are inherently inflammatory. Pancreatitis and arthritis are common when you feed processed food too often.
If you use commercial food it’s best to at least offset its effects by adding naturally anti-inflammatory whole foods into the mix. Whole foods high in antioxidants also help reduce inflammation in the body. Keep your dog young and healthy by feeding a variety of whole foods that are high in antioxidants and anti- inflammatories.
Add raw coconut oil as a source of fat
Unlike animal fats and other vegetable fats, virgin cold-pressed raw coconut oil is truly unique. While it’s high in saturated fat, it’s a healthy saturated fat that mainly contains medium-chain fatty acids that the body doesn’t store. Coconut oil can help you manage your dog’s weight. Raw coconut oil goes straight to the liver where it gets converted into energy.
The more energy your dog has, the more they exercise; the leaner they stay; and the less chance they have of developing obesity-related diseases. You will still need to provide your dog with a source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Since fish oils can turn rancid very easily, consider sources of Omega-3 oils like chia seed, flaxseed or hempseed.
Do not over-feed … and limit treats
Feed your dog according to whether they need to gain or lose weight. If overweight, feed them earlier in the day so they have more time to work it off. If your dog needs to gain weight then feed more regularly and especially before bedtime, preventing the dog from burning off those calories.
When you’re feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your dog, is compensating with a treat about how you feel or about how your dog feels? Without realizing it, many of us are slowly poisoning our dogs with treats. It can be easy to spot the dog that gets far too many treats – usually it’s the obese one. It’s fun to give dogs treats, but use them sparingly. Lean dogs are healthier dogs.
Get creative for teeth and gum health
Some commercial treats claim to benefit teeth and gum health but their unhealthy ingredients and cooking processes can cause other health problems. It isn’t always possible or practical to brush your dog’s teeth so bones come in a close second. Gnawing on raw bones will help keep your dog’s teeth sparkling white.
Another good solution is to give your dog whole foods like carrots and zucchini to chomp on. You see, it’s all about the rubbing and sloughing action on the teeth. Raw coconut oil also acts as wonderful canine toothpaste because it has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties – plus most dogs love the taste! Allowing your dog to lick hardened coconut oil off a bowl for 20 seconds after each meal is a great way to help with bad breath.
Rethink your water
Water is the most important aspect of a healthy diet yet it’s the most overlooked. There are well over 150 chemicals in most tap waters, depending on where you live. Use filtered water to reduce your dog’s toxin intake.
Wash bowls with vinegar
Good white vinegar is a chemical-free alternative to commercial cleaning products. Among other things, you can use it to wash your dishes and clean surfaces, including dog bowls and floors. It disinfects and is odorless when dry. Dogs can be sensitive to commercial cleaning products so replace as many of these as possible with natural alternatives.
Take Charge, you know your dog better than anyone so it makes sense that you should be in control of your dog’s diet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the Moab Barkery is here to help.