Dog Nutrition and Care
Dog food is dog food in particular designed and intended specifically for consumption by canines and other domesticated animals. Dogs, as domesticated animals, have always been considered carnivores with a primarily meat-eating bias. Humans have, on the other hand, been considered to have a much varied diet, with meat a very important part of the overall diet. Domesticated animals have, therefore, also varied diets, which is what contributes to the large variety of dietary concerns that pet owners typically have when they care for their four-legged friends. Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that any given brand of dog food is suitable for all dogs, but this is simply not true. Just like humans, there are different types of dog food and different amounts of dog food that are appropriate for different breeds of dogs.
Most pet owners feed their dogs commercial kibble or canned dog food, and while these foods do provide many of the nutritional elements necessary to keep your pet healthy, they are not ideal for providing all of the vital vitamins and minerals that dogs need. Puppies require much more of a varied diet than older dogs, and older dogs will often suffer from nutritional deficiencies if the diet is totally geared towards the needs of commercial kibble or canned food. This is why many veterinarians are now prescribing a diet that combines fresh food with human-grade beef and chicken proteins, and it’s also the reason why some dog food manufacturers no longer add vitamins and minerals to their dog food products. Today’s dog food contains far more variety than was even available just a decade or two ago.
Older dogs tend to have less fatty and oily skin, and they have less moisture in their fur, so dry food is the best for older dogs. On the other hand, puppies that are being fed commercial kibble may actually be deficient in essential nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. Even though dogs are said to be carnivores, most of them prefer a variety of meats over a lack of meat in their diets. Many veterinarians think that dogs are naturally carnivores, but they get most of their nutrients from protein sources other than meat, and so they should be fed meat-based kibble with some grain in the form of bread crumbs or treats.
However, as a vegetarian myself I know that the nutritional value of a dry food product like Satchu can actually be lacking. If you look at the nutrition facts on the back of the pack of Satchu, you will see that it lists “meat byproducts” as its primary ingredients. To me this seems like a clear indication that the manufacturer of Satchu is trying to get a meat business out of this nutritionally inferior product. The bottom line is, that you need to choose your veterinarian based on the information that you find in the dog food label.
A dog food that is predominantly comprised of grains, or cereals, is not necessarily inferior in terms of nutritional value. In fact, many commercially produced dog foods are made with high quality grains. It’s just that they are packaged differently and have different packaging, which makes them look “normal.” In order for grains to be categorized as “real” grains, they need to contain the following essential ingredients: bran, millet, sorghum, corn, wheat, corn meal, tapioca, and amaranth. These grains provide the body with both B vitamins (Biotin) and vitamin E, which are two of the most important nutrients for maintaining good health.
Some grain sources that your veterinarian may recommend include brown rice, oat bran, and millet. These animal products contain all of the B vitamins and several protein sources that your dog needs. However, a word of warning about chicken and turkey: these protein sources are heavy and can cause indigestion, gas, and bloating in dogs.
Other dog foods that are deficient in one or more essential nutrients include kidney, heart, liver, and poultry by-products. These animal by-products are processed and contain no vitamins, minerals, or other essential nutrients. They are simply used as a source of flavor. The best choices for protein include lamb, beef, fish, egg, and poultry.
Most vets are recommending high quality commercial brands over homemade diets because the animal by-products and synthetic preservatives in commercial diets don’t pose a risk to pets. You should also avoid feeds containing artificial flavors, coloring, or synthetic substances, such as BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. Pet owners are often unaware that their pets are receiving harmful chemicals in commercial dog food diets. Unfortunately, this is often true even when the ingredients are labeled “natural.” Always read the labels on pet food diets carefully and buy from a reputable dealer.