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nutrition

Puppy nutrition

When it comes to staying fit and trim, some dogs need more help than others. Senior dogs, especially, need the help of the people in their lives to keep them on the path to slimness. This is because older dogs are less active and, like middle-age people, their metabolism changes and they tend to gain weight. Here are a few exercise and nutrition tips to help keep your dog trim.

Exercise tips

No matter how old he is, when a dog is active and stimulated it’s good for his overall well-being: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Take it easy. This is the key to exercising your older dog. Walking is ideal for your senior dog because it keeps his muscles toned and his joints moving. If he hasn’t been active recently, start gradually with short walks. The length of a walk is dependent on the dog’s condition, age, and breed—and on the weather outside. For many senior dogs, a typical walk could consist of a five-minute warm-up followed by a fifteen-minute walk (start moderately and slowly build up to a brisker pace). After the walk, let your dog cool down for about five minutes. And remember, for a senior dog who’s out of shape, two brief walks a day are better than one long walk.

Get in the game. Playing with your dog is a great way to get him moving. But keep things light: when playing fetch, don’t throw the ball as far as you did when he was younger. Keep the tosses short so he doesn’t overexert himself. Play sessions can take place indoors as well as outdoors. So, if the weather is too harsh for your senior dog, bring your game play indoors where both of you can be comfortable.

Things to do after exercising. After a healthy dose of exercise, wait thirty minutes before feeding him. If he’s tired, make sure your dog has a comfortable place to rest, such as an orthopaedic bed. Chances are the exercise will make him thirsty, so offer small amounts of water frequently, instead of allowing him to gulp a large bowl of water all at once.

Nutrition tips

As in humans, a dog’s metabolism and activity level slows down as he ages. And, like us, his diet should be modified to meet those changes. But when should you switch your dog’s food—and what should you look for in a senior diet?

Make sure he’s getting the right kind of protein. Many people think that senior dogs need a low-protein diet, but protein requirements don’t necessarily decrease with age if the dog is healthy. Senior dogs need high-quality, highly digestible protein to help maintain strong, healthy muscles.

Watch those calories. You know what happens to people when they reach a certain age: all those calories they gobble up start to make themselves known in the most unflattering ways. Here’s an instance where dogs and their owners are very similar. Older dogs are less active, so they don’t burn off calories like they did when they were energetic pups. That’s why senior dogs need fewer calories than younger dogs.

Fiber keeps the world moving. There are several reasons why fiber is important. First of all, fiber creates a feeling of fullness—which means your dog will feel satisfied without having to eat very large amounts of food and the calories it contains. Fiber also optimizes stool quality and helps keep him regular.

nutrition

Puppy nutrition

As the pet parent of a new puppy, you’ll want him to grow up fit and healthy, and reach his full genetic potential. It’s not hard to help him do this; all you have to do is provide your puppy with the correct diet right from the start. Here are some of the things you should know about feeding your puppy and the food he needs to grow up strong and healthy:

Why nutrition is important?

First, your puppy will need a very digestible diet so his body can absorb all the nutrients that he needs. Second, it’s important that he really enjoys his food, so he’ll eat all of it. So it really matters what you feed your puppy. In fact, he needs special nutrition with just the right amounts of protein, fats, minerals and vitamins. After all, weight for weight, a puppy needs up to two and a half times as many calories as an adult dog does. A puppy’s diet must also be balanced so he receives the right amount of nutrients. And the food should be sufficiently concentrated to allow him to take in all the needed nutrients with a small amount of food.

Weaning puppies

Puppies are normally weaned from their mother’s milk onto solid foods when they’re 3-4 weeks old. You should give them their food in small portions 3 or 4 times a day. If you’re buying from a breeder, your puppy should have been weaned onto a solid diet by the time you take him home at the age of eight to twelve weeks. ‘Pedigree weaning’ food will be right choice for weaning puppies in India.

When you bring your puppy home

Changing homes and leaving his mother is stressful for a puppy. It could cause an upset stomach. If this happens, take him off solid food for two meals, and just give him small quantities of water to drink. Then, gradually introduce boiled rice and scrambled eggs over 24 hours, before you reintroduce his normal puppy food again. If, however, the diarrhoea or vomiting continues for more than 24 hours, or becomes more severe, phone your vet. Once your puppy has settled in, you’ll likely want to change his diet to the type or brand of food you’ve decided on. Make sure you replace the original food with the new food gradually, over a period of 3-5 days.

The benefits of prepared foods

Proper nutrition is necessary for your puppy’s health. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced breeder to get the nutritional balance just right. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating prepared foods from the very start. The advantages of prepared foods like Pedigree are:

  • They meet all the nutritional requirements: they’re balanced, with the proper amounts of protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, and easily digestible.
  • They don’t require any food supplements. Just don’t forget to put down a bowl of fresh water.
  • They are convenient to use and can be stored for long periods.

Which type of food should you choose?

There are two main types of complete dog food: moist in cans and pouches, and dry in packages. Both types are made from meat, poultry or fish based ingredients and grains, and provide balanced nutrition, with all the necessary nutrients. Dry foods have certain economic and practical advantages: they’re more economical, they don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator, and they’ll keep for a day in the bowl. Moist foods, on the other hand, provide your dog with a highly enjoyable eating experience.

Two stages of development: puppy and young dog

All dogs go through two stages of development: puppy and young dog. These are both very important periods in a dog’s development, as they determine what kind of adult the dog will be. Puppies are very active and grow rapidly. That’s why they need special food that will meet their energy requirements. What’s most important to keep in mind is that dogs of different breeds reach maturity at different times. Dogs of the toy or small breeds stop growing at around 9 to 12 months (use Pedigree small breed puppy), while dogs of the large breeds continue to develop up to 18 to 24 months (use Pedigree Large breed puppy). But we can generalize by saying that for all breeds (Pedigree puppy), the initial stage–when a puppy reaches half of its adult weight–ends at between five and six months. Proper nutrition allows for the puppy to reach his full genetic potential. If he’s overfed, a puppy can develop bone anomalies, which are more common in puppies of the large and giant breeds.

Guidelines on proper nutrition

A well-balanced diet and proper nutrition is all it takes to make your pet happy and healthy. Here are a few tips which will be useful to work it out:

  • Say ‘No’ to table scraps: Don’t feed your dog ‘People food’, which is not formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the pet.
  • Limit the treats: Treats are often salty and fatty; it’s wise to avoid them to protect your pet from being obese.
  • Homemade diets not recommended: Unlike branded diets, homemade foods hardly provide all the nutrient requirements to your pet.
  • No catty foods: As cats and dogs have very different nutritional requirement, foods of these two pet animals should not be exchanged.
  • No bond with bones: Don’t offer bones to your furry friend because it may potentially result in intestinal puncture, chocking, intestinal blockage, etc.
  • Maintain feeding schedule: Though puppies should be fed several times a day, the number of meals should be decreased as they get older.
  • Right diets: There should be right diets for dogs at different life stages.
  • Resist free eating: Don’t leave foods available to your pets whenever they want to eat them as it may encourage overeating and obesity.
  • Always have fresh water: Leave fresh water out so that your doggy can drink it whenever he wants.
  • Vet (dietician) consultation: If your pet needs special dietary needs, consult your vet as some pets require senior’s foods and others a low calorie diet.

Nutrition works wonders

The quality of food makes a lot of difference to your pet’s health. The strength of your pet’s immune system, his resistance to disease and his quality of life all depend on the food that he eats.

Commonly home-made diet of meat and carbohydrate may be deficient of certain nutrients required for growth, good health, lustrous coat, strong bones and teeth. The simplest method of meeting nutritional requirement of dogs is to feed a fixed formula, complete and balanced commercial diet, designed and appropriately tested for dogs. Contrarily, a balanced home-made food may also be formulated.
Start early
Normal birth weight of pups depends on breed and ranges from 120-500 g. The growth rate is rapid in the first few months at an average of 2-4 g/day/kg of their anticipated adult weight. The puppies should be allowed to suckle mother’s milk within 10-12 hours of birth at least till age of four weeks. Early mother’s milk (Colostrum) has necessary antibodies and nutrients which protect the puppy initially. The puppies can be weaned from the mother by 4-6 weeks when they start eating food on their own. If the mother is not providing milk or mother’s milk is insufficient, puppies can be fed with commercially available pre-weaning food.
Feeding puppies
After weaning, small breed puppies should be fed 4-5 times and large breed puppies 3-4 times a day if they are fed with home-made food and 3-4 times for small breeds and 2-3 times for large breeds if they are fed with dry food. Dry puppy feed can be initially moistened with hot water
or milk for a  few weeks, if required. As the pup grows, he can be fed 3 times per day till 1 year and 2 times after 1 year.
Count the calories
Dogs require sufficient energy for optimal body weight, maintenance, pregnancy and lactation. Out of the six nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats provide energy while vitamins, minerals and water do not. Caloric requirement of the growing puppy per kg weight is more compared to adult dog. Energy requirement of dogs is ~40 kcal/kg body weight for adults, ~120kcal/kg for puppies and ~200kcal/kg for lactating females.
More protein for pups
Healthy adult dogs need protein ~3g of high biological value per kg body wt/day. Egg and meat have protein of
high biological value and digestibility compared to vegetable protein. Optimal diet should contain 22-25% protein for growing puppies and
8-15% for adult dogs. Most of the commercial foods contain protein of both cereal and meat source of 75-90% digestibility.
Fat essentials
Apart from providing calories, fat also improves the palatability of the food. Fats serve as carrier for fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K. Dogs have a dietary requirement of lenoleic acid (Omega 6), an essential fatty acid which is richly found in corn, safflower, sunflower, soya and evening primrose oil. Deficiency of linoleic acid may cause scaly, lusterless coat and reproductive disorders. Omega 3 fatty acids like linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) play a vital role in development of cardiovascular system, nervous system and retinal function. Linolenic acid is rich in flaxseed oil, soya oil etc, where as EPA and DHA are found in a variety of fish, especially fatty sea fish. Dogs’ diet should contain 5-15% fat for adults and 8-20% for pups.
Minerals in right ratio
Apart from calories, a dog’s diet should be supplemented with essential mineral nutrients. Major minerals required are calcium and phosphorus and these minerals are interrelated. Too less or too much of these minerals lead to bone abnormalities. Calcium and phosphorus deficiency along with low levels of Vitamin D3 results in rickets, soft bones and bend in the bones of the forelimbs due to the weight of the dog. Calcium and phosphorus in right balance is essential for formation of strong bones and teeth and Vitamin D3 is essential for absorption of Ca and P into the bones and teeth.
Minerals like Zn, Fe, Mg, Mn, Se, Na and Cl etc are essential in dogs’ diet in minor levels. Zinc improves growth rate and metabolism, maintains integrity of skin and hair, assist bone and cartilage development. Selenium, as an antioxidant, support protective action of Vitamin E by detoxifying peroxides and improves fertility and immunity. Iron prevents iron deficient anemia and Sodium and Chlorine helps in maintaining electrolyte balance. Usage of organic mineral supplements is advisable as they are more bio-available.
Vitamins are important
Apart from these nutrients, dogs’ diet may be supplemented with fat soluble vitamins  (Vitamins D and E) and B complex vitamins for normal health and growth.
Taking care of the elderly and obese dogs
Large breeds, especially aged and fat dogs, may require supplementation of Gluco-samine and Chondratin sulphate which helps in nursing of joint and bone problems. The dog food may be supplemented with yeast derivative mannan oligo-saccharides to promote healthy intestinal micro flora and to reduce pathogenic organisms in gut and these mannans are also a rich source of protein and B-Complex vitamins.
Thus keeping all these nutrients in mind, ensure that you feed a proper balanced diet to your pet.

Tips for feeding  

  • Dry foods are available with different kibble size for different growth stages which help in jaw development, maintaining healthy gums and teeth and also satisfies the puppy’s chewing needs.
  • Water is most important nutrient and at any given time, the dog should have access to adequate clean and fresh drinking water.
  • There is precise impact of environmental temperature on food intake which is more in winter as compared to summer.
  • Control the calories so that the dog is not malnourished and  he is slim and healthy. Excessive calories leads to more weight which causes shorter life span and joint problems in older dogs.

(Dr. Nagesh Reddy, M.V.Sc, is a full-time practitioner at J.P. Nagar, Bangalore and he can be contacted at +91 9886799989 or e-mail at nbreddy2003@yahoo.com)

Nutrition needs of your German Shepherd

German Shepherd is perhaps the world’s most popular utility dog. Their robustness, rusticity and intelligence, steals everyone’s hearts. They convey a sense of strength, intelligence and litheness. They radiate a harmonious sense of nobility and self-confidence that commands respect. Nevertheless while rearing a German Shepherd, their specific characteristics should be kept in mind and accordingly a well-balanced nutritious diet should be given to them.

GSDs have an established digestive sensitivity:

A higher intestinal permeability, a lower digestive capacity and a greater fermentative activity among large dogs are many factors that may explain their lower digestive tolerance. Hence, it is important to ensure maximum digestive security among German Shepherds through nutrition. Proper diet ensures digestion and absorption of nutrients and fermentation of undigested matter. It also helps in protecting and nourishing the intestinal and colonic mucosa, limiting fermentative activity and improving the consistency of stools.

GSD’s immune system put to test everyday:

German Shepherd is a utility dog par excellence, as a guide dog, rescue dog, police dog or defence dog. These varied chores put his immune system under severe pressure every day. The German Shepherd is among the breeds showing a weak plasmatic concentration of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which increases the risk of infection. IgA are antibodies specialised in the defence of mucosae and the skin against infectious agents and are essential ingredients of secretions such as saliva, tears and intestinal juices.

Sensitive skin of a GSD:

The dog’s skin pH is one of the highest among mammals (an average of 7.4). Among the canine species, the skin pH appears to vary according to breed.

An alkaline skin is more conducive to bacterial proliferation than an acidic skin. A German Shepherd’s relative deficiency in IgA (Immunoglobin A) and the high alkalinity of his skin can explain his sensitivity to bacterial skin diseases, such as pyoderma. So, it is essential to reinforce the integrity of the skin barrier, while preserving natural beauty of his coat, through nutrition.

The epidermis forms a barrier that limits water loss by the body and prevents its penetration by allergens. This barrier role is made possible by ceramides, which are lipids that form ‘cement’ that bonds the epidermis cells. The synergic action of a supply of various vitamins (choline, nicotinamide, inositol, pyridoxine and panthotenic acid) and amino acids (proline and histidine) augments the synthesis of ceramides, which helps limit water loss and prevent the penetration by bacteria or any allergens (pollen, dust mites).

GSD’s bone structure is under great daily stress:

The German Shepherd’s exceptional morphology enables him to perform as well in his work or walking with his master, as in the most diverse and most demanding of sporting disciplines: ring, mondioring, protection, campagne, and not forgetting search & rescue of course. This means that the joints of this versatile dog are put under great stress. Hip, elbow and knee dysplasia, cauda equina and articular osteochondroses are unfortunately not rare in this sporting dog. With time, his cartilages will be damaged and this wear and tear may gradually give way to osteoarthritis when the dog grows older. This means that it is essential to help prevent joint complaints and associated inflammatory mechanisms through nutrition.

Royal Canin’s made to measure kibble:

Royal Canin offers a nutritional programme for a German Shepherd of all ages. For 2-15 month old puppies, there is MAXIjunior, which offers a very high digestive security which ensures equilibrium of intestinal flora and regular digestive transit. German Shepherd 24 is for the adult dog, which is exclusively formulated taking into account his digestive sensitivity, reinforcement of natural defences, protection of the skin and the coat and articular capital. The advantages of feeding this food includes:

  • Guaranteeing optimal palatability : Born with an exceptional olfactory acuity, a German Shepherd is able to detect up to 5,00,000 different odours, compared with the mere 4,000 that humans can distinguish. His exceptional nose makes guaranteed optimal appetence of the food essential to satisfy his very high demands. The food is formulated with premium quality ingredients and exclusive aromas, based on a secret recipe.
  • Improving oral hygiene: The dog’s teeth are brushed mechanically as he chews, which helps limit the accumulation of tartar. This effect is reinforced by the presence of chelating agents of calcium, which render calcium unavailable for the mineralisation of dental plaque and so the formation of tartar.
  • Helping to prevent gastric dilatation-volvulus: After a meal, the stomach can achieve a volume of 3-4 litres in a 15 kg dog and up to 7 litres in a large dog. This predisposition to distension, associated to a relative laxity of the stomach’s means of attachment to the abdomen, means that the dog is predisposed to the gastric dilatation-volvulus. This complaint is fatal in 30% of cases. So, it is essential to feed the German Shepherd very digestible food that can be digested fast and efficiently.
  • Protecting joints: The food also protects joints and prevents or slows down osteoarthritis. It has an extra source of chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine, the combined action of which helps stimulate the regeneration of articular cartilage and slows down cartilage degeneration.

Nutrition needs of your Lab

If you have a Labrador Retriever or are planning to have one, then it is extremely important to take care of his nutrition, which not only helps him keep in shape, but also keeps his coat healthy and shiny.

 

Many of us are fascinated with a Labrador Retriever, owing to his placid and lovely temperament, besides his distinct abilities to be a disaster and guide dog. But, only few of us are able to rear a beautiful and proportionate Lab. The problem lies with nutrition. Only a well-balanced nutritious food can help your Lab grow to his breed characteristics. Let us see what are the specific characteristics of a Lab and how proper nutrition can help maintain them.

Unique structure of the Lab coat

Structure of the Lab’s coat is unique. His hair is strong, dense and short, which means the Lab can endure even ice-cold water. When retrieving in the countryside, Labs have to negotiate bushes and thickets that can cut them. Their dense fur is a great help in preventing lesions. The water glides over the coat, as it glides over the feathers of a duck, hence they are less wet than other breeds after a swim. They produce more sebum than other breeds. Sebum is the oil secretion of the sebaceous glands that waterproofs the hair. Labs sometimes develop a hypersensitivity to specific allergens such as dust mites or pollen. This condition is called atopy.

Labs have a natural predisposition to excess weight

Compared with other dogs of similar weight, the Lab’s body mass consists of less muscle mass and more fat. Epidemiological studies show that he is among the breeds with an increased risk of obesity. They often tend to be greedy. That makes it essential to maintain a proper exercise regime and to follow ration recommendations.

A protein diet promotes lean mass, favouring muscles over fat. Specific nutrients play a significant part in ensuring that dogs do not put on unwelcome excess pounds.

Common ailment: arthritis

In expending energy, the Lab puts his joints under a huge amount of stress. In time, the cartilage is damaged and this wear and tear may lead to arthritis, as the animal gets older. Maintaining an optimum weight is the best way to relieve joints. Cartilage is a water-cushioned shock absorber. When a joint moves, the coefficient of friction is equivalent to ice moving against ice. It ‘glides’ effortlessly. In time, this friction damages the cartilage. The major supplementary source of glucosamine and chondroitin (1000 mg) helps preserve a well-hydrated cartilage matrix. Chondroitin sulphate inhibits the action of enzymes that cause the destruction of cartilage. Its high water retaining capacity ensures proper cartilage hydration. Glucosamine (precursor of glycosaminoglycans, the principal components of articular cartilage) stimulates the regeneration of cartilage (especially promoting the synthesis of collagen).

Lab’s visual and cognitive capacities engendered by prudent selection

Whatever his function, the Lab always commits 110% of his powers. He is a disaster dog that works himself to exhaustion to rescue people all over the world. He can be trained to find explosives and drugs as he is able to distinguish 5,00,000 different odours. The average human recognises around 4,000 His size, endurance, character, intelligence and stability make him the ideal guide dog. He also has a proven track record as an assistance dog for people with motor disabilities. Guide dogs become the eyes of their masters, so it is essential that they possess acute twenty-twenty vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin are present in the crystalline lens and the retina in significant quantities, protecting them against damage caused by oxidation. With an average life expectancy exceeding 12 years, the older Lab can develop some behavioural complaints. The synergic antioxidant complex helps maintain cognitive functions and plays a role in preventing senility.

Royal Canin’s Lab food

Royal Canin offers Labrador Retriever 30, which not only nourishes the coat but also protects the skin. It provides the building blocks the skin needs. With 30% high value biological proteins per ration, every meal provides dogs with all the ingredients essential to a healthy coat. It also helps in maintaining ideal weight by harmonising energy intake with lifestyle. It controls the energy content in food as it has ingredients they need to produce powerful muscles without excess fat. This food is available as a kibble with a shape and texture, which promotes the feeling of a full stomach. Its size forces the dog to chew, which encourages mechanical brushing of his teeth, combating the build-up of dental plaque.

It also relieves joints by controlling body weight and incorporating glucosamine and chondroitin. This Lab food also nourishes cartilage, combats inflammatory mechanisms and degenerative mechanisms stemming from oxidative stress.

The food also preserves visual and cognitive capacities by nourishing the crystalline lens and the retina as it is a source of lutein and zeaxanthin.

A well-balanced and nutritious food will make your Lab beautiful and proportionate.