What Should a Dog Eat?

What should a dog eat and how do you know if you’re giving your pet the best diet possible? There are so many different types of diets available for dogs today – dry food, canned food, raw meats, cooked meats, turkey, vegetables, and specialty blends.

The diet that you feed your dog will have an effect on its physical health, its weight, and the luster and health of its coat. If the diet you feed your dog lacks in needed vitamins and minerals, your dog can become restless, irritable, and tire easily. Certain foods can also cause dogs to become overly excited or nervous.

To be sure your dog is eating the healthiest diet possible, you need the right combination of vitamins and minerals as well as the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

Should a dog eat meat? Humans don’t need to eat meat to stay healthy but dogs do. A nutritious, well-balanced dog food should contain approximately 40% meat (to provide the protein), 50% vegetables, and 10% carbohydrates. If a dog’s diet is lacking in sufficient amounts of protein it can cause weight loss, muscle wasting and slow growth in younger dogs. A diet lacking in vegetables can lead to vitamin deficiencies, and carbohydrates are important to keep a dog’s thyroid functioning properly.

To maintain a healthy balance of the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids a dog needs for optimum health, select a dog food that contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as Vitamin B1, B6, and B12, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and choline.

There are twelve minerals that are critical to a dog’s health. These minerals are calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, Iodine, sodium, potassium, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese and selenium.

In addition, there are ten important amino acids dogs obtain from the food they eat that are necessary for correct body functioning. These amino acids are arginine, histidine, threonine, tryptophan, lysine, methionine, leucine, phenyalanine, valine and isoleucine. A dog needs these essential amino acids to build strong muscles and to control nerve impulses in its body.

A dog that does not receive sufficient vitamins, minerals and amino acids in its diet is susceptible to weakness, joint pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, increased heart rate, and enlargement of the thyroid gland.

There are other side effects of poor nutrition due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A deficiency in vitamin A can cause central nervous system depression and a deficiency of vitamin D can cause fatigue or exhaustion. A sodium deficiency can cause restlessness and a magnesium deficiency can cause irritability.

The best type of dog food your dog should eat is a high-quality, all-natural dog food containing adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. A nutritious dog food should not contain by-products or synthetic additives. Buy the best food you can afford for your dog and you may enjoy many more years together.

Low Carb Dog Food

If your dog is substantially overweight or obese like one fourth of all dogs in the United States, you should begin feeding your pet a low carb dog food which can be beneficial to any overweight or obese pet.

Dogs are able to maintain an appropriate weight consuming almost any dog food on the market as long as they don’t over-indulge at mealtimes, are not fed too many treats and snacks at other times, and are getting enough exercise. But even for dogs who are not overweight or obese, a low-carb diet can help avoid health problems later in life.

Obese dogs are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and metabolic disorders. A low-carb diet is a necessity for dogs that are overweight and for dogs diagnosed with diabetes.

Dogs are omnivores which means they eat meat and vegetables, including fruits and grains. But considering the evolution of dogs who originated from the wolf, it makes sense that over-feeding your dog with grains like wheat and corn is not a good idea.

Dog’s bodies were designed for diets that are low in sugar and refined starches, and the high doses of carbohydrates a dog consumes when eating manufactured dog foods are not healthy. It may shock you to know that most commercial dog foods contain between 30% to 70% carbohydrates.

In addition to the high doses of carbs, many dog foods contain filler ingredients such as corn meal and starches. These ingredients, along with animal by-products which are the leftovers from other food processing, are unfit for human consumption. The reason they are added to dog food is to provide cheaper ingredients for the manufacturer and make a dog feel full faster without providing the nutrients a dog needs; something akin to fast food for humans.

Dog food ingredients you should try to avoid include wheat, corn, cornmeal, yellow corn and whole grain corn, brewer’s rice, cereals, and potatoes. All of these are filler ingredients that are very high in carbs.

There are many good brands of low-carb dog foods. Some come in the form of raw and dehydrated foods which are beneficial to a dog’s health because they are higher in nutrients. Several brands use entirely grain-free recipes as well as hormone-free turkey and meat.

Check for pet foods that are lower in carbs by examining the ingredients. Look for a low carbohydrate and high protein content in the food. Some of the ingredients to look for are beef, chicken, lamb, turkey or pork. Never give your dog any food containing “animal meal” or “animal fat.” This is a red flag for very poor-quality dog food.

Dog foods containing vegetables and fruits are also good for your dog and provide many of the nutrients missing in meat. Many low carb dog foods may also contain apples, bananas, cranberries, spinach, carrots, and celery.

Low carb dog foods with these ingredients are healthy for dogs in all stages of life, from puppies to senior dogs. Just remember to avoid all dog foods containing grains and buy those with real meat, fruits and vegetables.

 

Obese Dog Health Problems

When a dog is obese it’s more susceptible to developing serious medical conditions because of an elevated glucose level and the extra amount of fat that puts additional pressure on its joints and also on its heart. If you have an overweight or obese dog, you should consider placing it on a slimming diet to prevent possible health problems from occurring.

Obese and overweight dogs are predisposed to getting diabetes because their blood glucose level will continue to increase. The dog’s body will naturally secrete insulin in higher amounts but at some point its body will not be able to cope with the increased amounts of insulin and diabetes will result.

A dog with extra weight is much more likely to develop arthritis at a younger age. Typically a dog will develop arthritis after the age of eight but an obese dog may have joint problems much earlier in life because the extra weight adds stress on the joints which in turn cause pain and swelling.

Extra weight can add pressure on the dog’s ligaments and tendons causing further soreness. The ligaments in the dog’s knees and feet may become injured, causing incapacitation. Weight loss is essential to reduce stress on the dog’s joints, tendons and ligaments. In severe cases the dog will require surgery.

Arthritis is not a treatable condition, but may be managed with supplements like Winston’s Joint System, a totally-natural whole food supplement developed by a Naturopathic Doctor for his own dog. There are no side-effects with Winston’s because it’s just good whole food and there are no dosage problems because the body uses only what it needs.

An overweight dog is also susceptible to heart problems and cardiovascular disease. Obesity and excess weight causes the heart to pump more blood to the fat tissues, creating an additional workload on the heart. Over a period of time the heart will become weakened and the walls of the heart chambers may be damaged or the blood vessels may dilate and cause heart problems.

Obese and overweight dogs will usually develop breathing problems also. The lungs may be pressured by fatty tissues surrounding the lungs, preventing the dog from breathing normally. The lungs then become overworked because they are having to provide more oxygen to the fatty tissues.

Obese and overweight dogs can also develop liver disease, because the liver is the first place the body deposits the fat. Excess fat in a dog’s liver causes hepatic lipidosis leading to liver failure.

The health problems of obese and overweight dogs are not limited only to these diseases and ailments. There are many other serious medical conditions that can be avoided if a dog maintains a normal weight through a reduction of calorie intake and daily exercise. A healthy and fit dog will live a longer and happier life.

Can Dogs Eat Frozen Food?

Frozen dog foods are becoming popular in the pet food world. The major concern for most dog owners is the question, “Can dogs eat frozen food?”

Some dog owners are choosing to purchase commercially prepared raw foods for their pets with choices ranging from turkey, chicken, beef and lamb, to exotic meats like quail, rabbit and antelope.

These fully prepared meals can be made up of only ground meat, or meat with ground up bone and vegetables. The meals that contain only meat use muscle meat as well as organ meats like liver, heart and other organs that wild dogs consume.

If you want to feed your dog a vegetarian diet, there are frozen vegetable mixtures also available on the market.

Dogs are carnivores and they require a diet of raw meat and natural foods that have been prepared with minimal processing. For centuries a dog’s diet was mostly grain-free and contained a multitude of enzymes and antioxidants that dogs today do not get in heat-processed dog food.

To provide the natural proteins, antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals a dog needs, raw meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics supplies a dog with the sources for these ingredients.

Many owners find that feeding pre-prepared frozen foods for their dog is a relatively easy way to assure that their pet is receiving the vitamins and minerals necessary to good health.

You may also want to consider supplementing one of these prepared raw food diets with raw bones. Meat doesn’t contain a sufficient amount of calcium for a dog’s body, so dogs in the wild receive the bulk of their calcium by consuming bones which provide the additional nutrients a dog needs.

Raw bones should not be cooked. When cooked they become brittle and can break into pieces in your dog’s digestive system. If your dog has a tendency to eat too fast, you can feed it frozen bones that have been slightly thawed. This will force your dog to spend more time eating the bone.

In addition to raw food and bones, many companies sell frozen treats for dogs that look like ice cream tidbits and popsicles that we humans eat. The treats are made from dog-friendly foods like peanut butter, bananas and berries and most dogs find them to be delicious and special snacks.

Dogs can eat frozen foods and will usually like them.

If you’re interested in feeding your dog raw foods you can visit one of the raw pet food sites listed above, or start out by buying fresh raw meat at your grocers and begin feeding your dog small amounts of meat to see if it can easily digest it.

Can Dogs Eat Apples?

From time to time a friend will ask me if dogs can eat apples without getting sick. One friend called me in a panic on a Saturday morning after her pet Labrador snatched an apple off her kitchen counter and scarfed the whole thing down, including the seeds.

I told her not to worry as an apple is perfectly safe for a dog to eat. You should use caution though if you’re giving your dog whole apples as a treat since the covering of the seeds contains very small amounts of amygdalin, a compound that contains cyanide.

My vet believes that the stems of apples may also contain traces of cyanide, so I’m careful to remove the stem and seeds before giving my dog an apple. Seeds are not really that harmful because the seed coating has to be broken before the amygdalin is released, so if your dog eats the few seeds contained in an average size apple, there is nothing to worry about.

I always slice the apple and give it to my dog piece by piece because it’s safer than tossing him a whole apple to eat. As to how many seeds would be safe for a dog to consume, consider that an adult would need to eat a whole cup of seeds to feel ill.

Apples are tasty treats for dogs and provide the nutritional benefits of vitamin C and fiber, plus they’re low in sodium and saturated fat. They also contain calcium and phosphorus. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in an apple help make the dog’s skin and coat healthier.

All dogs should not be fed apples just because they contain nutrients. If a dog has kidney disease, the added calcium, phosphorus and omega-6 fatty acids may not be a good addition to its diet. Additionally arthritic dogs require monitoring of their omega-6 fatty acid levels. It’s best to check with your vet if your dog has kidney disease or arthritis.

The worst problems a dog would encounter from eating too many apples is an upset stomach or diarrhea. So when my friend asked me the question can dogs eat apples, I told her yes, but “In the future keep your dog out of the kitchen when you’re making pies.”

Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatments


It’s fairly easy to determine whether your dog is suffering from allergies. Dog allergies can affect any breed of dog, no matter where you live. The symptoms of dog allergies are the same for all breeds and the treatments for those allergies are usually the same.

Some of the symptoms of dog allergies are: excessive scratching, pawing at the face or eyes; excessive sneezing, continual runny nose, watery eyes, acute coughing, skin rashes or dry, crusty skin, continually rubbing its face on the floor or furniture , and chronic ear infections.

Seasonal allergies affect many dogs and are caused by spores or pollen grains in the air. These allergens are inhaled and sometimes are able to penetrate a dog’s skin.

Seasonal dog allergies usually occur when a dog is between the ages of 1 and 3. However, some dogs don’t develop seasonal allergies until they are 6 to 8 years old.

If you notice allergy symptoms in your dog you’ll need to schedule a vet visit to have blood tests performed. This is the only way to confirm if the dog really does have seasonal allergies or if the symptoms could be related to a disease that has infected the dog.

Two methods veterinarians use to determine if a dog is suffering from allergies are an ELISA test, the most commonly used test to diagnose allergies; and intradermal testing.

To effectively treat seasonal dog allergies, the vet first has to determine the cause of the allergy, and then you’ll need to limit or eliminate exposure to that allergen. Most dog owners whose pets suffer from seasonal allergies will keep the dog out of grassy or flowered fields during pollen seasons and will also keep the grass on their lawn cut short.

The vet may recommend topical ointments to relive the dog’s itchiness and the other symptoms of seasonal allergies. In addition, regular bathing of the dog’s skin will help reduce allergic reactions.

Some dog owners have reported that a change in their dog’s diet reduced the allergies by strengthening the dog’s immune system. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to help in boosting a dog’s immune system.

The vet may also prescribe antihistamines and steroids if the dog’s allergies continue to worsen.

Some vets also use immunization therapy to reduce a dog’s allergic reactions. This is accomplished by injecting the allergen in small amounts in the dog’s system and after a few shots, the dog will begin to build an immunity to the allergens.

The symptoms of dog allergies should not be ignored and treatment should begin as soon as you know for sure that your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies.

Raw Dog Food Diet

Many people believe that a raw dog food diet is unhealthy for their pet. What you choose to feed your pet is entirely up to you, so we’ll just list of few of the many benefits of a raw dog food diet and you can make up your own mind.

When dogs are fed a diet of raw foods, they usually build up a stronger immune system which allows them to recover more quickly from ailments and illnesses. Owners who have had their dogs on raw food diets for a while notice that their pets now have more energy when playing or exercising and their overall health and appearance improved in a very short time.

Changing to a raw dog food diet also means there is less risk of the dog being exposed to unhealthy ingredients in most manufactured dog foods. Raw food diets don’t contain artificial colorings, flavorings, meat “by-products”, or chemical preservatives.

A raw food diet is often considered healthier and safer than commercial dog foods which often lack the necessary vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to be healthy.

Most veterinarians we have spoken with agree that a raw food diet is good for a dog but they advise against completely changing your dog’s diet in one fell swoop. You should start by gradually introducing raw foods to your dog. In the beginning start by feeding your dog a smaller amount of commercially manufactured dog food, adding a little raw food mixed with it. Continue adding more raw food and less manufactured food every couple of days until the dog’s food is entirely comprised of the raw foods. This allows your dog to get used to the new diet without upsetting its system.

Don’t be frightened if you notice some changes in your dog’s appearance after switching to a raw dog food diet. This is normal and as your dog becomes adjusted to its new diet, it will begin to look and act healthier. In the beginning weeks you may see more shedding of hair, more wax buildup in the ears, possibly a slight skin rash, and often the dog will have loose, soft stools.

If these changes become extreme and continue for some time, you should consult your vet in case your dog has an allergy to something in its new food diet.

The key to changing to any raw dog food diet is balance. Your dog’s diet should include a tasty and healthy combination of meat along with fruits and vegetables. It isn’t wise to feed your dog only one type of food like raw beef.

We also recommend that you consult your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet. If you’re not knowledgeable about what constitutes a healthy raw dog food diet, call your vet or ask friends who have changed their pet’s diets to all raw, natural foods.

Should Dogs Eat Cat Food?

The question “Should dogs eat cat food?” is often asked by owners who have both dogs and cats living together because it’s often difficult to keep a dog from eating the cat’s food.

Cat food usually has higher levels of protein and fat than dog food and many dogs find that combination very appetizing. Cat food is also more likely to be left out all day long allowing a cat to eat when it wants, whereas dog food tends to be served only at mealtimes. Dogs have a tendency to eat whatever they find tasty, regardless of whether they’re hungry or not.

Cat food and dog food have different formulations because cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements. Cats are carnivores and must eat meat in order to maintain their health. Dogs eat cat food because they are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat-based foods and plant-based foods. Cats usually don’t bother eating a dog’s food because cats need certain B-complex vitamins that dog food doesn’t contain.

Will your dog get sick if it eats cat food? Usually only if it overindulges on cat food. If this happens the dog is likely to suffer digestive discomfort, including diarrhea and vomiting due to higher fat levels in cat food.

If your dog sneaks an occasional small amount of cat food it won’t harm its health, but if allowed to eat cat food over an extended period of time, it will probably become overweight and will lack some of the vital nutrients in dog food that are lacking in cat food.

Over time, a dog could also develop kidney problems if its excretory system is unable to remove the extra protein found in cat food. This extra protein becomes urea which is a nitrogenous compound found in the urine of an animal and is produced by the breakdown of protein.

Keeping your dog out of the cat’s food requires some rearranging. Try putting the dog and cat food bowls in different parts of the house. You could put the dog’s food in the kitchen and the cat’s food in the laundry room. If that doesn’t work, try giving the cat its food on something higher than you feed the dog on, like a countertop which cats will find easy to climb up on but a dog won’t.

Hopefully one of those tricks will work. If not you may want to install a cat door on the laundry room door that’s too small for your dog to get through. Dogs eat cat food simply because it’s food and it’s accessible. If a dog can’t get to it, the problem will end.

Healthy Dog Food Ingredients

It is an axiom (a generally accepted idea or proposition assumed to be true) that using healthy dog food ingredients will result in healthy dog foods. It is also true that feeding dogs healthy food enhances their quality of life by reducing illnesses, improving the coat and teeth, and providing healthy energy for their bodies.

But no matter how healthy the ingredients are in a specific dog food, if a dog’s health doesn’t improve with a particular type of food, then it is not the right diet for that dog. Many dogs are allergic to certain types of protein or other ingredients used in the manufacture of dog food, and if your dog seems to have more health issues after changing to what you believe to be a healthier dog food, you’ll need to experiment with a few other dog food brands or recipes.

Luckily, most quality dog foods also come in smaller packages, negating the need to buy large bags and waste money if your dog can’t or won’t eat the new food.

Some signs that your dog needs to change its diet are excessive flatulence, frequent ear infections, licking the top of its paws too much, and frequent vomiting or diarrhea. If this is happening to your dog, try changing the type of protein used in its food and see if the symptoms disappear or at least improve.

A dog’s stomach will often attack unfamiliar ingredients, so a new food may not be accepted right away and often can cause diarrhea. Don’t buy a new brand or type of dog food at the first sign of these problems. Continue feeding your dog the same food for a least a week or two before deciding to try something new.

Dogs can also develop allergies to foods they eat too often, so it’s a good idea to feed your pet several foods that contain different protein sources to help it maintain a balanced diet.

Dogs are omnivores, and like humans their bodies were designed to obtain nutrients from both meat and vegetables. The reality is that pet dogs receive most of their nutrients from protein sources, so when choosing a dog food, the quality of the protein is the most important ingredient. As a general rule. three of the first five ingredients listed on the label should be protein sources.

Don’t choose dog foods containing “meat byproducts” or any with labels listing “animal protein” as a principal ingredient. These two ingredients usually don’t include muscle meat from which dogs receive most of their protein. Look for dog foods with labels listing specific ingredients like chicken and turkey. If your dog has food allergies you can choose a food containing proteins like duck, venison or rabbit.

Dogs are not able to efficiently digest corn, wheat, white rice or soy. Instead choose dog foods with whole vegetable ingredients like carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes. There are some dog foods that also include fruits like apples, and grains like oats and barley. Grain-free foods are also available that substitute potatoes in place of the grains.

Other healthy dog food ingredients include pumpkin (which helps soothe a dog’s upset stomach), cottage cheese which provides healthy bacteria, and eggs which are a healthy protein source.

There is no one dog food that’s right for every single dog, but some foods are definitely higher in quality than others. Compare labels on the dog food you now feed your pet with other brands available wherever you shop for dog food.

Depending on where you live and where you shop, you may need to visit your local pet store to find a healthy dog food.

Vegetarian Dog Food Recipes

Dogs need to consume a lot of protein to remain healthy. If you’ve decided that you want your dog to be a vegetarian, you may want to try these vegetarian dog food recipes to be sure you’re feeding your pet a healthy diet.

You should understand that vegetables alone will not supply the protein your dog needs to be healthy and hearty. To provide the missing protein and still maintain a vegetarian diet, include beans, dairy products, eggs or protein supplements in your dog’s vegetarian diet.

For a hearty and delicious Vegetable Stew, prepare this recipe for your dog:

Heat up a small amount of olive oil and a little garlic in a saucepan. Cut into slices the following vegetables: one large sweet pepper, one medium zucchini, one medium yellow squash, one medium eggplant, and one potato.

Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for 40 minutes, adding a small amount of oregano or basil.

Let the stew cool before serving it to your dog. You can also add shredded cheese, beans, a raw egg or a protein supplement to make sure your dog is receiving a suitable amount of protein.

This is another vegetarian dog food recipe any dog should find appetizing:
Mix one cup of quick-cooking oats, 1/4 cup of soy flour or soy milk powder, 1/4 cup of wheat bran, one tablespoon of soy lechithin, one tablespoon of yeast, one tablespoon of wheat germ, one tablespoon of ground sunflower seeds, 1/4 tablespoon of molasses, one teaspoon of ground flax seed, and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil.

Soak all the ingredients in hot water for 20 minutes before serving to your dog. This is an easy meal to make in advance and keep refrigerated or frozen for a quick and healthy daily meal for your dog. If you have a large dog you’ll need to double the recipe. Ground pinto beans can also be added for additional protein.

This is a recipe for a Vegetarian Chowder your dog is sure to love:

Thoroughly cook two red potatoes in two cups of water, adding two tablespoons of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Remove the potatoes from the water. Add three cups of fresh corn to the water and cook for five minutes. Add to the corn 3/4 cup of cooked kidney beans and the potato water you set aside. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the corn is tender. Blend the red potatoes with 3/4 of a cup of milk in a blender or food processor and add it to the simmering chowder.

Vegetarian Dog Food Cookies:
Mash a cup of peas, green beans, squash, zucchini, and carrots. Add one egg, 1/3 cup applesauce, a cup of cooked rice and a teaspoon of brewer’s yeast.

Drop a teaspoonful of the mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. These delicious doggy cookies can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer and given to your dog as a treat at any time.

A recipe for Yummy Veggie Biscuits:
Mix three cups of parsley and 1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In a separate bowl mix 2 and 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour, two tablespoons of bran and two teaspoons of baking powder. Combine this mixture with the vegetables. Add one-half to one cup of water and mix well until the dough is moist but not wet. Knead the dough and roll it out.

Use a cookie cutter to create cookies in any shape you want, then bake them on a cookie sheet for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees. This is a healthy and delicious treat for your dog.

We sincerely hope your dog will love these vegetarian dog food recipes.