Increasingly our four legged friends are visiting vets with a range of illnesses, such as allergies, respiratory complaints, skin irritations and heart conditions that may have their roots in a poor diet.
These conditions are not only distressing for the animal, but expensive for the owner. It’s not just that we are guilty of overfeeding our pets, but the tendency to rely on dried dog food that is causing problems. Dried dog food contains high levels of raw starch that can prove an irritant to the dog’s digestive system. Combined with the fact that we often feed our dogs the same food for years on end, has lead to an increase in the number of dogs suffering from Adverse Food Reaction. There is an alternative that only requires a little thought and some planning.
It is known that a healthy dog requires a diet of high quality protein, low carbohydrates as well as some vegetables and fruits. The advantage of shop bought dog food is that the nutritional content is already worked out for you. If you are planning on giving your dog a more natural diet than you need to ensure that your dog gets a variety of foods in order to get the nutrients they require. An excellent website that clearly explains this is www.thedogdiet.co.uk.
Lean meat and fish provide the B vitamins that help build bones, muscles, cartilage, fur and claws. It can be cooked or raw, but if cooked then the bones must be removed as they are more likely to splinter and cause choking.
Also good for bones and joints are raw eggs, shell included that provide calcium and essential fatty acids. Carbohydrates such as brown rice contain many micro nutrients such as selenium, manganese, magnesium and thiamine.
Green leafy vegetables (cooked or blended) are not just good for us dog owners but for our pets as well, providing Vitamins A,C and K as well as iron and calcium which are first rate for heart and kidney function and the immune system.
Other starchy foods such as sweet potatoes, peas and beans are also useful additions to the diet. Now I know my dog loves sweet potato and carrots, but fruit? Mmm… not so sure, but I am willing to try him with some strawberries, bananas and apples if it will help boost his immune system and improve his gut function. As with anything in life, it is best to introduce these changes slowly, otherwise you may have a very confused animal on your hands!
Like their owners dogs need exercise too, so get those trainers on and you will both benefit from that walk in the fresh air.
By Sue Rodgers for Valle Verde Animal Rescue
This article was originally published in the Sentinella April 2016
Next Month: What Your Cat Really Needs