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Our dogs give us so much love, affection, and happiness. They are amazingly selfless and generally don’t even require much back in return, other than to be fed, loved, exercised, and snuggled.
Food is definitely the way to most dog’s heart, especially Roxy! It’s important to keep our dogs in the best shape possible. In addition to ensuring plenty of exercise, we must focus on their nutrition, as doggy nutrition is just as important as our own.
Even though the topic of dog nutrition sounds simple, it’s easy to forget the impact food has on our pets. While it might seem loving to allow our dog to lick up the leftover onions from our plate, onions are actually toxic for dogs. In fact, many seemingly innocent human foods are toxic to dogs, so it’s important to be mindful of this.
Read on for seven tips to boost your dog’s nutrition!
Learn Which Foods Are Toxic To Dogs
I don’t know about you, but chocolate is my go-to treat! It can be extremely dangerous for our dogs, however. I remember when Roxy was a tiny, 3lb pupper and came across a Hershey’s Kiss. She scarfed that thing down, wrapper and all, faster than I could move!
I was frantically googling to see what levels are harmful. Luckily, one milk chocolate kiss didn’t affect her at all. This calculator from VeterinaryClinic.com is amazingly helpful for determining the risk.
Always keep in mind that there are a number of foods that are poisonous to dogs – not just chocolate, but garlic, onion, avocado (especially the pit, which can cause an obstruction), and the sweetener xylitol, among other things.
Xylitol is so dangerous that I was against even bringing it into the house. Even a tiny amount can cause rapid onset of hypoglycemia, which can be life-threatening. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these, just to keep your dog safe and healthy.
Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, where almost all of the ways to manage dry mouth symptoms involve xylitol. Now I keep it securely sealed in a bag inside my nightstand, safe away from the pups being able to get into it.
Research Dog Food Labels Thoroughly
There’s a lot of marketing hype around dog food. Dog food manufacturers spend as much on advertising as human food manufacturers; with just as many headline nutrition benefits sound good on paper. It’s important to look deeper into the labels to find the best food for your dog.
A lot of dog food is heavily processed and full of ‘fillers’, for instance, meaning you really do want to check the label, just like you would with human food, to confirm the main ingredient is a high protein meat and not all filler or junk.
Avoid Overfeeding Your Dog
We all love our dogs so much that we often overfeed them, as a treat. Showing them love with excessive treats and food can lead to an overweight dog, which could have long term health problems.
Measuring how much you feed your dog is a great way to watch their intake. It also has the added benefit of alerting you to changes in eating behavior, which could be related to a medical issue.
Use Natural Supplements For Your Dog
I’m a huge fan of using vitamins and supplements to increase your dog’s overall health, wellbeing, and nutrition. Chronic conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia often see some improvement when supplements with antioxidants and omega oils or natural anti-inflammatories like hemp oil are added to their daily routine. Check out how hemp oil is great for your dog’s health!
Ensure Your Dog Has Fresh, Clean Water
Dogs need to drink frequently, particularly in summer, as dehydration can cause serious health problems…even death. Just like humans, the higher the temperature and amount of exercise – the more your dog needs to drink.
Having access to a plentiful supply of clean drinking water is critically important, as dogs can only survive a very short time without water. For an electrolyte boost on extra-hot or highly active days, consider giving your dog coconut water as a healthy addition.
Minimize Inflammation From Processed Foods
Inflammation is a major cause of disease and premature ageing, in both dogs and humans, processed foods are inherently inflammatory and often arthritis and pancreatitis are the result when providing a diet overly reliant on processed food with low nutrition value.
To limit this, it’s important to avoid giving your dog people food, no matter how much they beg. That doesn’t mean they can’t be spoiled, however!
Try To Feed Your Dog Raw Food
Humans are the only species on the planet that cook their meat, as most animals eat raw food – including meat. When we cook our food we lose many vital nutrients, and it’s the same when we cook food for your dogs. Some dogs do amazingly well on a completely raw diet!
Roxy and Rico are pickier eaters, however, and won’t touch raw food. For street rescues, they are very finicky about their nutrition! Plus, a raw diet can be expensive and you need a quality, reliable source of raw meat that is safe.
There are many delicious homemade dog food recipes available for those that insist on it being cooked.