Nutrition Advice for Adult Dogs
But how do you decide which food is best for your dog? It’s easy to be confused by competing claims, wide price ranges, and the huge variety of pet foods available at pet stores. The secret is to do a little research before you get to the store.
How to Read Labels
Understanding label information is the first step to making an informed decision about what pet food is best for your dog. Most major dog food brands will post labels on their websites, allowing you time to read and compare before you shop. Pet owners can also contact food manufacturers directly, usually via email or toll-free numbers, to request facts about a food’s nutritional information. Questions to ask include reasoning behind standard ingredients, nutrition facts, and any special benefits of feeding a particular food.
Hungry for Balanced Nutrition
Once you have a basic idea of what’s inside your dog’s food, you’ll want to determine the product that is best for him. What does he actually need to stay healthy? A dog’s breed, age, and weight, along with many other factors, help determine the basic requirements for maintaining great health. All pet food labels must include a statement that the food meets or exceeds the requirements of nutritional adequacy for a particular life stage, such as gestation, lactation and growth; maintenance; or complete for all life stages. This statement is supported one of three ways: 1) calculating the nutrient profile of the pet food by adding up the nutrients provided by each ingredient, 2) analyzing the pet food, or 3) feeding the product over a specific period of time to establish that the nutrients within the pet food supports a particular life stage of your pet.
Animals have nutrient requirements, which are provided through a combination of ingredients to provide the nutrient profile that is best for the life stage of your dog. These ingredients include water (canned food), energy sources, protein sources, vitamins and minerals. Pet food ingredients are listed by weight in descending order, which is important since the top ten ingredients will often make up 80% of the food.
Pet food could appear adequate and balanced based on nutrient content, but if the digestibility of the food is low, nutrients could pass right through him, unabsorbed, and end up in your backyard. Digestibility percentages are not required on dog food labels, but there are simple ways to monitor your pet for good health.
Keep track of your dog’s stool production. Production of a larger volume of feces than typical for your dog may be an indication that the product is less digestible. Monitor your dog’s body condition. If he is losing weight, the nutrient content and/or digestibility of the product being fed may not be adequate for the life stage and activity level of your dog.
HOW MUCH TO FEED
The amount of food required will depend on the lifestyle and life stage of each individual dog. Very active dogs of the same age and breed will require more energy than a sedentary dog. Therefore, the feeding directions on the label should only be used as an initial guide.
Regularly assess your dog’s weight and overall condition. You should be able to determine if he is getting too much food (gaining weight), not enough food (losing weight), or even the wrong food (listlessness, patchy coat, stomach and intestinal upsets).
Supplements: Vitamins and Minerals
With so many nutrition facts to consider, planning your dog’s diet can be exhausting. Even owners who provide otherwise adequate nutrition forget to consider some of the most important pieces of the puzzle: vitamins and minerals.
What do vitamins and minerals do, exactly? Many important things. Vitamin E helps to support canine immune systems, while vitamin A is important for skin and hair health. Your dog can get vitamins and minerals from various fresh foods as well as supplements provided within (or in addition to) his processed foods.
However, it can be difficult to guarantee that dogs are getting the right nutritional balance from their store-bought food and even harder to tell with diets consisting predominantly of home-cooked meals. This is when dog owners can turn to supplements, such as fish oil, or multivitamins, such as Bio Spot Active Care™ Multi-Vitamin Chewable Tablets for Dogs. If you feed your dog a multivitamin every day, you can rest assured that he is getting a mix of vitamins and minerals that support vitality and a healthy immune system. Multivitamins such as Bio Spot Active Care™ Multi-Vitamin Chewable Tablets for Dogs also add calcium and antioxidants to your dog’s diet. Calcium supports strong bones and antioxidants reduce free radicals that can damage cells in his body.
The Ideal Dog Life
Above all, dogs should eat a balanced diet. It pays to find the right dog food. For diet planning and management, reach out to informed resources, such as your veterinarian. You’ll have a happier, healthier dog with the right amount of energy. He will be more focused on you and you can reward him with love and affection—both of which are calorie-free.
Bio Spot Active Care is a trademark of Farnam Companies, Inc.