The Key to Good Health is Good Nutrition
Dr Ankur Narad
The nutritional requirements of dogs vary based on size, breed, reproduction, growth, age, physical-exertion, environmental and psychological stress. Good nutrition always leads to good health. Find out how?
Feeding a complete and balanced diet, with all essential nutrients in optimal amount, is vital for good health, longevity and wellbeing of your pet. Good food provides energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to live, grow and function properly. Here are the list of the essentials.
Dog food are available in a wide range to meet the nutritional need of your dog, according to breed, size, age, health requirement, etc. Dry kibbles are prepared in different flavours, brands and ingredients. Read labels and consult your vet for an optimum match for your pet’s needs.
Canned dog food is available in a wide variety. This food has a very high moisture content, which gives it a completely different texture. It is soggy and much easier for senior dogs or dogs with poor dental health to eat as it requires no chewing.
Semi moist food has more calories than canned food, which makes it an excellent prepared pet meal. It has a high carbohydrate content suitable for working dogs, but not for diabetic dog. It also tends to have a shorter shelf life.
When you cook your dog’s meals at home, you are taking full responsibility for all of his nutritional requirements. Nutritional requirement of your pet is different from human’s. Do consult your vet for the same. Uncooked vegetables (and certain raw fruits) are good source of vitamins. Give them a carrot or cucumber to munch on. You can cook vegetables like turnips, potatoes, cabbage, etc and make a healthy broth. Dogs love fruits, so you can give them seasonal fruits like apple, watermelon, banana, papaya.
Vitamins and minerals
A healthy balanced diet provides all essential vitamins and minerals. However, there are certain times when your pet may require supplements to ensure bone growth, good digestion, tissue repair, water balance, and other conditions. These include during pregnancy, puppy growth, and recuperating from injury or illness. Your vet will be able to guide you about the supplements as required.
For durability, buy your dog a stainless steel bowl, with bottom rimmed with rubber to prevent sliding. A heavy ceramic bowl can’t be knocked over easily, but if it chips or cracks make sure to replace it immediately, as it may become a breeding ground for bacteria.
How much water?
Make sure your dog has fresh drinking water available at all times. Replenish it to the same level daily. A dog loses water every day in urine, feces, and through panting. Your dog could suffer from irreversible body dehydration and damage if water is not available for over 48 hours.
- Small breeds eat less in one meal.
- Puppies need three or more meals a day, reduced to two when they reach six months of age.
- If your pet is unwell, give him light food like gravy or broth which is easy to digest.
- Pregnant female dogs need up to 50 percent more food. Consult your vet on any special dietary needs.
- Make sure the basic diet includes protein for growth and tissue repair, essential fatty acids for coat health, and carbs to provide bulk and help in bowel movements.
- Little and often is the golden rule for older dogs.
- Always be sure to serve their meal at room temperature, and never give stale food.
- Never feed processed cat food to your dog, as it is too high in protein.
- Do not feed brittle bones, such as chicken. They might choke your pet.
- Remove canned or wet food after 10-15 minutes, and give a new serving at the next mealtime.
- If your dog refuses to eat for 24 hours, consult your vet.
Decisions to be made on weight management
If your dog is less alert than usual, and if you cannot feel his ribs, you may be over-feeding him, or probably giving him a wrong diet. Together with the consultation of your vet, start a weight management plan.
- Aim to give your dog only 60 percent of his normal recommended calorie allowance during dieting.
- Increase your pet’s daily exercise.
- Vary the diet from time to time.
- Do not give in to begging for food. This can be an obsession with some dogs, especially if they are bored. Surrendering just reinforces this behaviour and leads to obesity.
- Pet parents should gather information about the size and body weight of the dog at different ages of the specific breed.
- A pet parent should discourage the other family members and request their co-operation so as not to overfeed.
- Pet parent should take weight of the dog at weekly interval after providing a fat reducing diet.
- Consult your vet about specially formulated, low-calorie diets.
(Dr Ankur Narad, Department of Veterinary Pathology; Dr Ravindra Kumar Jain, (PhD), Professor, Department of Animal Nutrition; Dr Nidhi Shrivastava (PhD), Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathology; Dr Supriya Shukla (PhD), Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Mhow, Madhya Pradesh)