Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Importance of Your Dog’s Diet

The better we as humans eat, the better our bodies function. We can avoid excessive sickness, weight gain, and fatigue, among other things, if we are eating well. As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” The same can be said of our hunting dogs. If you are expecting optimum performance from your dog, you should be providing the best diet possible. This does not mean you should spend more on your dog’s food than your own, it simply means that you should be cognizant of the ingredients within your dog’s food and make changes where necessary.

Dog Food

The first ingredient in your dog’s bag of food should be chicken or lamb (or it could be a pricier meat like buffalo, duck, or salmon). Meat byproducts are often found in lesser quality foods, which signify the use of any number of extra pieces of the animal that were not able to be used in the grocery store for human consumption. There should be at least 20% protein in the dog’s food, supplied by the highest quality meat ingredients you can afford. Along with this, the food should have about 10% fat. Beware of fillers. Corn is a common ingredient in dog food, but is very difficult for dogs to digest and fills their stomach so there is less room for more nutritious foods. In some packaged dog foods, oatmeal is used as a filler; oatmeal is much friendlier to your dog’s digestive system and therefore a much better choice. Some manufacturers are responding to the needs of healthier ingredients and have begun adding fruits and vegetables, which will also help round your dog’s diet.

Quantity

Depending on your dog’s level of activity, the quantity of food you are serving him or her will change. During a high-activity time, the body’s demand for calories to burn will be higher, necessitating more food. On the other hand, if it is the off-season and the dog is spending a lot of time resting and napping the quantity of food you supply should be less. However, cold weather requires more food than summer temperatures (up to 50% more).

Water

The consumption of water is vastly important to your dog’s health. Water aids in the digestion and absorption of food, as well as regulating the dog’s internal body temperature. Toxins and waste are carried away from the body with water. Just for survival, the dog needs at least 2 ml of water for every pound the dog weighs each day.

Boost

For a dog that is in need of an additional boost of energy or if they are recovering from injury or sickness, you can add a boost to their diet with just a few ingredients. Boil chicken or liver until done, then put in the food processor or mash it well. Add about ½ cup to the dog’s regular food. Other additions can be: a raw egg, ½ cup yogurt or cottage cheese, and salmon oil (or other fish oil).

Benefits

A quality, well-balanced diet leads to energy, well-developed muscles, a thick coat, and insulation against cold weather. Less illness will plague your dog and injuries can even heal more quickly if your dog is well fed.

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