Nutrition

Please note that these articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of BestFamilyDog.co.uk. As with all matters relating to your dog, please use your own judgement where appropriate.

Persistence is the Key

A lot of dog owners think they are doing right by their dogs when it comes to their diets, but in reality many are relying on guesswork rather than fact and are often feeding their dogs what they crave rather than what they need. Although it is important to remember that dogs aren't children, a lot of owners treat them this way when it comes to food. If a dog won't eat something they give up and try something else until the dog eats that. But in reality, if they persisted then the dog would eventually eat it rather than starve. We tried this with our dog who was incredibly fussy until he realised it was our way or nothing. This may sound harsh but in the end he is healthier for it.

Balance

Much like with our diets, it is essential that owners cover all of the vital nutritional groups in their dog's diets. In addition, it is not a good idea to enforce your own particular dietry restrictions on your pet. For example, if you are a vegetarian then that is your right. However, it is not then necessarily right to force your pet to be one also. An omission of one of the main food groups can lead to a deficiency of certain vitamins and nutrients, which in turn can lead to a number of problems ranging from skin problems, stomach upsets, weight problems, bone problems and even potentially fatal illnesses. With the right balanced diet, your dog's defenses against disease are much stronger than a dog whose owner either hasn't put much thought into their diet or has omitted a major food group due to personal beliefs.

There is an abundance of dog food and supplements on the market these days, and on the whole pre-packaged foods will cover most of the major nutritional requirements your dog will have. However, the easiness of this in itself can trip many owners up. Many will assume that the choice is basically between dry and moist dog food, and will give their dog mostly dry with the odd treat of a moist meal. This may provide every nutrient the dogs requires, but it probably won't do too much for its general mood, and remember that a good state of mind is also a key factor in remaining healthy. So in reality the best diet is one that includes a variety of ingredients, textures, and nutritional values. Try to avoid just choosing the food that promises to be the best for your dog and look at the back of the food packets and read what they contain.

The reality

Dogs are carnivores first and foremost, just like their ancestor the wolf, and so it makes sense to include a decent amount of protein in their diets which of course will come mostly from meat. This will provide many of the nutrients they need for energy and healthy growth, but they will also needs plenty of fibre and carbohydrates too for proper digestion. What works for us is to alternate between a good quality dry and moist food every other day, and occasionally with food scraps from the dinner table mixed in and complemented by occasional doggy treats. The key is to be persistent and experiment a little to find the right balance for your dog.

Submitted by Joe Maplin Nov 2010.