There are lots of myths out there about feeding our dogs. I’ve had many conversations with clients, breeders, trainers, and veterinarians about the best way to feed our domesticated predators. You probably are reading this, hoping that I can shed light on the many confusing perspectives in canine nutrition. Besides, I’m a veterinarian that has been in practice for over thirty years and considers nutrition to be one of the best tools we have to treat or prevent medical problems. The truth is that there are more questions than answers, but I’ll go over the most important things that I have learned.
What I have learned over the past ten years is that some individual dogs need different ingredients for better health and food allergies are far more common than I used to think. Itchy skin, ear infections, nausea (eating grass and vomiting), diarrhea, and even seizures can be a sign that something in the food does not agree with your pet. Every dog can have the occasional itch, nausea, vomiting, or the runs from eating something they are not used to or allergic to. However, when the symptoms occur too frequently, or just don’t go away after treatment, then I always question if the ingredients may play a part. Many dogs are allergic to wheat, barley, or corn. Others may not tolerate beef or chicken in commercial dog food. Some dogs may be sensitive to additives or preservatives.
If your dog is suspected of having a food allergy, then you can try a limited ingredient diet. Taste of the Wild or its Kirkland alternative, salmon and potato diet has helped many dogs in my practice. Natural Balance limited ingredients also has duck/potato or fish potato that help others. Remember if you feed a healthier dog food; don’t forget to avoid treats containing the most common allergen wheat gluten. I have used baby carrots, sliced chicken or turkey hotdogs , or cooked and diced chicken as treats for training.
Don’t worry too much about adding healthy “human food” to a dog’s diet. If you want your dog to have a better coat, then you can add ingredients that contain healthy oils. For example, you may add olive oil(1 tbsp), fish oil capsules(1-2), an egg, raw or cooked chicken(4-8oz), canned herring(6-12 oz), or sardines(1 tin)to the diet. (Always try a small amount for a day or two to make sure that your pet can tolerate the ingredient!)The healthiest ingredients for dogs are meat, organ meat, fish, and eggs. Surprised grain or rice isn’t on the list? The ancestor of the dog rarely ate a helping of wheat, rice, barley, or corn. That is why those ingredients may be the most troublesome! (Beware: Many biscuits, dental chews, and pill pockets are wheat gluten based)
If you want your dog to lose a few pounds then you have to limit the amount of dry food. You can feed half as much dry food as usual and soak the remainder with warm water or combine with the same amount of green beans. You’ve just cut the calories in half! Canned food also has less calories then dry food and is just as nutritious. By the way, dry food probably does little for tartar. Dogs usually eat it way too fast! I recommend raw meaty bones or frozen chicken wings or thighs for dental health and joint nutrition. Baked and barbecued bones can be dangerous and dogs need to chew, not swallow larger bones. For dogs that like to gnaw on things, it’s a perfect way to keep teeth clean. I feed my dogs raw chicken wings or thighs every week. Yes…a vet said that!
If you want more information about feeding your dog, home cooking for your dog, or figuring out what your dog is allergic to, check out my website and books. http://dogdishdiet.com/order-now
While you’re on the website, be sure to download my free PDF, “ Dr Greg’s 11 Practical Home Remedies” .In the download, I talk about common problems and over-the-counter medications that you can use!
Remember, health starts in the bowl!
Greg Martinez DVM