Do you wonder if your dog is getting all the nutrition he needs? Or if you are feeding your pet in the right way to give him a long, healthy life?
Thanks to a 14-year study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, a handful of myths about canine nutrition have been busted. After following 48 pairs of Labrador Retriever litter mates, the results suggest that a 25 percent restriction of food intake — or maintaining an ideal body condition throughout a dog’s life — increased the median life span of the dog by 1.8 years and delayed the onset of chronic disease symptoms.
A senior dog’s nutritional health depends on receiving the correct amounts and proportions of nutrients from water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, according to Mike Grant, PA, the nutritional science director for SeniorPetProducts.com.
“Commercial dog foods like Wellness Super5Mix, Holistic Select and Nutro Natural Choice are usually designed to meet these needs,” said Grant, who also remarked that supplements like Chondro, Synovial-Flex products, Pure Essentials for Mature Dogs, and Essential Omegas for Dogs and Cats will help with age-related diseases, including arthritis, cognitive and cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
“Knowing what to feed and how much to feed are equally important,” Grant said. “Your veterinarian is always the best way to get the correct information. They are up to date on all the new science.”
In addition to checking with your vet on what foods and supplements your growing or aging pet might need, consider a few of the dog nutrition myths that have been disproven:
1. “A raw meat diet is the only one for canines.” Many people continue to believe that dogs require a strict diet of raw meat to be healthy. The fact is, today’s domesticated dog is no longer a true carnivore, and raw meat alone can no longer meet his nutritional requirements. Small amounts of grains, like rice, oatmeal, pasta, vegetables, and fruits, are a normal and desirable part of good dog nutrition.
2. “Raw eggs are an absolute no-no for dogs.” This issue continues to spark debate, primarily because of the risk of salmonella poisoning. But dogs are far less susceptible to salmonella poisoning, and the occasional raw or boiled egg is an excellent source of protein for pooches.
3. “Dogs should never have any dairy products.” Some dogs may not tolerate dairy products that contain high levels of lactose, but cottage cheese and yogurt are two options that do not contain high levels of lactose. Both are excellent sources of calcium and can be given to lactose-tolerant dogs safely.
4. “Fat only gives dogs empty calories.” The fact is, fats are a main source of energy for dogs. Fat is also essential for the proper absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, especially in low-saturated forms, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
5. “A dog is unable to digest grains.” While there is some truth to this statement, starch and grains that have been converted by the cooking process are digestible, depending on the quality and type of grain used. For dogs, rice is a better option than wheat or corn.
6. “All commercial dog foods are bad.” Products do vary from good to average, but research has shown that the quality of commercial dog foods is more than adequate to meet proper nutritional requirements in all breeds of dogs.
7. “A diet must be specifically tailored to a dog’s age or breed.” In most cases, a good diet for a dog is good for all dogs throughout their lives. However, puppies need more food than seniors, and older dogs may need supplements to replace vital nutrients that they have stopped making naturally due to the aging process.
How do you approach feeding your dog? Do you feel the “higher” end foods make a difference. When comparing ingredients, I don’t find much difference between mid-range and the higher end foods.