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What Should I Feed My Dog?

Three basic questions to help you choose quality food



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There are so many kinds of dog food on the market that choosing the right one can seem confusing. To narrow down your choices, ask these three questions:

1. How old is my dog?

Puppies (under a year), adults (one to eight years old) and seniors (eight years and older) have different nutritional needs. Active, growing dogs need more calories, while older dogs may benefit from ingredients meant to support their aging joints.

2. What breed is my dog?

For very large or very small dogs, consider food made specifically for their size. Size-specific food is customized for the energy needs of big or little dogs and often has pieces designed to fit better in a dog’s large (or tiny) mouth. Look on the package for designations such as “large breed,” “small breed” or “toy breed.”

3. Does my dog have health issues?

A special diet may be best for dogs with health needs like food sensitivities or weight problems. There are also foods made to address dental problems as well as other conditions.

Choose quality ingredients

Now that you’ve got a general idea of what to feed your pet, look for brands that offer high-quality ingredients. Although premium brands can cost more than bargain brands, the payoff is that these foods deliver more of the nutrients your pet needs. (Another upside: Better absorption may mean your dogs’ stools will be smaller and firmer.)

Premium dog food will include meat for protein, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruit, and omega fatty acids for a shiny coat. It’s also likely to have fewer fillers such as corn, wheat and soy.

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Doggy Diets: What Is a “Novel Protein”?

New dog food can help those doggone food sensitivities



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Why is my dog having a reaction to a food they’ve eaten a zillion times?

It’s just a dog thing! Studies suggest that after eating the same type of food for a long period of time, dogs can develop sensitivities. Protein is essential to your buddy’s muscles, organs, nerves, skin and coat. But too much of the same kind of protein can sometimes cause persistent tummy trouble or itchy skin.

Out with the old & in with the new…food

“Novel” protein just means “new” protein your pet hasn’t eaten before. Beef, chicken, lamb and turkey are all common ingredients in dog cuisine. If you find that your pet has developed a reaction to one of theses ingredients, just swap it for a less-common protein source:

  • Duck
  • Bison
  • Rabbit
  • Salmon
  • Venison
  • Herring

These ingredients often come in dog foods labeled “limited-ingredient,” “grain-free,” “natural” or “for sensitive stomachs.” In fact, when you’re researching possible replacement foods, ingredient labels are your best friends. Just be sure to double-check that the new food doesn’t have any old proteins in it.

How to make the switch

Start slow to avoid tummy upset. To transition your dog to a different diet, replace a small amount of their old food with the new food at the usual mealtime. If your pup tolerates the new stuff well, keep replacing a little more of the old food with the new at each meal for seven days, until you’ve switched completely over to the new food.

It can take up to three months for a replacement diet to work its magic. Give it time and record your pooch’s progress!

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Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Remedies for Dogs

A guide to Canine nutritional supplements



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Premium dog food usually has all the nutrients your pooch needs. But some pets benefit from a little extra nutritional boost. That’s where vitamins, minerals and supplements come in.

If your dog is a picky eater, is recovering from an illness, is pregnant or nursing puppies, or has certain diseases or skin problems, ask your vet whether a nutritional supplement might be useful.

Here’s a quick look at different supplements and how they may help. Because vitamins, minerals and supplements can have side effects, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before giving them to your pet.

Acidophilus: Beneficial bacteria that aid digestion and cut down on excessive gas and occasional diarrhea. May also help with bad breath, dry skin and dull coat.

Antioxidants: Substances such as turmeric, glutathione, lycopene and pycnogenol: that help protect against cell damage.

B Vitamins: Useful to aid tissue support and to help stimulate a weak appetite.

Brewer’s Yeast: A good source of protein and B vitamins.

Vitamin C: Helps support healthy bones, teeth and skin; helps protect against cell damage.

Calcium: Helps supports healthy bones, especially in elderly and lactating animals.

Chondroitin: Can help support joint and cartilage health.

Vitamin D: Helps support healthy teeth and bones; helps the body absorb calcium.

Dietary Fiber: Aids digestion, helps regulate cholesterol levels.

Vitamin E: Helps promote lung, heart and digestive health.

Fatty Acids: Cod liver oil, Omega-3 and Omega-6 contain these and help support the cardiovascular system, skin, coat, joint health and digestion.

Folic Acid: Helps support the cardiovascular system.

Garlic: Can help repel fleas.

Ginger: Helps support digestion; can help soothe motion sickness.

Glucosamine: Can help support joint and cartilage health.

Huperzine A: An herbal substance that may help control seizures.

Hyaluronic Acid: Helps cushion joints and helps promote skin elasticity.

Iron: An essential component in blood.

Linatone: A fatty acid.

Lutein: A substance believed to help support eye health.

Magnesium: Helps build bones, maintain teeth and muscle, nerve, skeletal muscle, heart and cell function.

Melatonin: A hormone that can help induce sleep.

MSM: Helps support joint cartilage.

Probiotics: Microorganisms that help promote healthy digestion.

Psyllium: A source of dietary fiber.

Senna: A plant-derived substance that can help relieve occasional constipation.

Shark Cartilage: A source of calcium.

Tryptophan: An amino acid that can help with stress relief and to promote sleep.

Valerian: May promote sleep.

Vitamin K: Necessary for blood clotting.

Zinc: A trace element that supports the immune system.

Always consult your vet before giving your pet any vitamins or supplements.

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Your Dog’s Hip and Joint Health

Diet may help arthritis symptoms in aging dogs



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Arthritis and the older dog

Aches and pains, creaky joints, stiffness — aging dogs can suffer the same problems some aging humans do.

As dogs get older, they lose cartilage in their joints, which can lead to inflammation and pain. This joint pain may affect a dog’s mobility.

Some larger breeds are more likely to suffer from joint pain. They include:

  • Great Dane
  • German shepherd
  • Labrador retriever
  • Golden retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Mastiff

The Benefits of a Hip and Joint Health Diet for Your Dog.

Some studies suggest that certain ingredients may provide support to dogs suffering from joint pain.

  • Natural sources of glucosamine & chondroitin are building blocks of healthy cartilage.
  • Balanced minerals help maintain strong bones.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids, a healthy fat found in some fish, may help keep joint cartilage healthy, reduce inflammation and support improved mobility.

For optimal hip and joint health:

  • Talk to your vet about the best diet and weight for your dog.
  • Look for dog foods labeled “hip and joint health,” which contain Omega 3 fatty acids, plus other ingredients that may benefit achy dogs.
  • Make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight. Even a few extra pounds, especially on a dog prone to joint problems, can be painful.
  • Provide an orthopedic dog bed for support and comfort.

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