Mark Poveromo, who has raised as many as 11 Labrador Retrievers simultaneously and owns the largest holistic pet food store in the Northeast (Thomaston Feed), reveals scores of helpful tips on how to provide great nutrition to dogs in his new book, To Your Dog’s Health! Below are eight important things you need to know about dog nutrition:
Time For A Change
To simply recommend the best food for your special pet is counter -productive. No food made today is right for all dogs. All pet owners must first realize that foods ar e not created equal. The discrepancies in the alleged benefits of processed dog foods are significant. In evaluating the most important aspects, remember that digestibility is primary. Dogs digest food at different levels due to many factors – age, weight, and to some extent, breed.
How To Switch Foods
Switch neither immediately nor entirely from one dog food to another. When switching your pet from the old food to the new, it can usually be completed in approximately three to five days. Initially, feed your pet less of the holistic pet food than the premium brand name food, and rotate protein sources. This means that if you are feeding a chicken-based diet one month, you should try lamb the next, beef the next, and so forth. Remember, rotating your dog’s food for variety, and, more important, its health is vital. Try to find holistic foods that offer more meat protein (percentage wise)than what is generally found in super premium pet foods.
Homemade Cooking Is Best
The diets of feral (wild) canines are unprocessed and balanced. Raw, hunted food is by far, what keeps
these animals healthy and thriving. The diet of a dog’s distant and not-so-distant relatives is what is best
for a dog. So, before you buy a commercially sold, processed dry dog food consisting of approximately
40% meat and 55% carbohydrate, consider a change to something more nutritious. Or better yet, cook
for your pet, for your own peace of mind as well as for your pet’s health.
Help For A Fussy Dog
Besides a totally, home prepared diet, which most dogs seem to love, you may perk up your dog’s appetite simply by warming food up to room temperature or slightly higher, causing the aromas to become more apparent to your older or younger dog’s olfactory senses. You may also top commercial fare with small amounts of granulated garlic, or canned tuna in water, or quality cheese (sliced or grated), such as parmesan, pecorino, romano, etc.
Because they deal with digestion, enzymes can be supplemented from an outside source. Adding these can increase your dog’s ability to utilize more of its food. It is believed that up to 70% of your pet’s internal energy is used to digest foods that do not contain enzymes or in sufficient amounts. The worst culprits are dry or canned pet foods. Not supplementing your dog’s diet with enzymes can str ain its immune system and make it more susceptible to disease. If the pet’s body has to work hard to provide
digestive enzymes, then it has far less time to replenish those enzymes organically.
Where To Find Processed Food
The best foods available tend to be in small, independent local pet supply or food stores. Yes, your veterinarian does carry pet foods, but those are often foods with limited-quality ingredients. Grocery, department and convenience stores are definitely places where you should not look for your beloved pet’s food. Some brands to consider include: Breeder’s Choice, Candidae, Diamond, Weruva, Fromm, Nature’s Variety, Natura, Percurean, Orijen, Solid Gold, Mulligan Stew, Natural Balance, Ziwi Peak,
and Horizon Legacy.
Consider a dietary change for your pet to eliminate the commonly found allergens in many dog foods. The main culprits are corn, wheat, soy and brewer’s dried yeast. Corn is one of the four primary allergens in all dog foods. These allergens can result in symptoms ranging from hot spots, ear/eye irritations, and anal gland problems to poor skin and coat condition. Corn also tends to produce a larger volume of stool, and to be less palatable or attractive to a dog’s taste buds. If corn is listed as the first ingredient in a pet food, this indicates it is the most prevalent ingredient, by weight, in that food or treat.
Food For Dogs With Kidney Disease Or Failure
To create a diet for dogs with kidney failure or disease, concentrate on foods that are moderate to high in fat, for your dog needs to maintain a healthy weight to battle this disease. Also keep in mind that foods high in fat normally provide calories low in phosphorous. Phosphorous can become another enemy in dogs with kidney disease. When you cook for your dog, remember that raw lamb and pork are high in fat. Beef is also another good choice if your dog is not allergic to it. You may also use turkey or chicken, but try to use the dark meat that is higher in fat than the white meat. Dairy products are known to be high in fat, but they are also high in phosphorous, so use them sparingly. Reduce, if not totally eliminate, sodium from your dog’s diet by using sea salt instead. You also should increase potassium levels in your dog as it fights kidney disease with a potassium chloride supplement.
Raw Diet Pro’s/Con’s
Raw diets have now become firmly entrenched in many canine and nutrition circles. Many dog owners around the countr y understand the benefits of feeding a raw diet to their best friends. Mark Poveromo shares the pros and cons of such a diet in his new book, To Your Dog’s Health!
Over the past eight years or so, the raw diet has become the topic of heated discussion for vets, breeders, and owners alike. Those who fervently believe in either the raw diet remain adamant about their benefits. After all, the digestive similarities between wild coyotes and wolves and our domesticated best friends are well documented. Moreover, the high digestibility of raw rood cannot be ignored. Comparatively speaking, the raw diet is about 40 percent more readily assimilated by your dog. By contrast, processed dry foods, depending on their ingredients, are very taxing and difficult for your pet to process and digest. Raw food is also made in predominantly human-grade facilities that have a higher standard of quality contr ol and overall processing and handling.
The AAFCO (American Association of Feed Controlling Officials) considers a dog’s diet complete if it provides 26 vitamins and minerals and states that all processed dry and canned foods found in pet stores should contain every one of these 26 substances. If you have chosen a raw diet for your pet, you do not necessarily have a complete and balanced feed. Make sure it states on the food container or packaging that the food meets or surpasses the standards set by AAFCO for a complete and balanced diet.
Among the other substantial benefits that come from feeding raw food to your pets are these:
Reduction of veterinary visits.
Reduction of stool.
Improved skin and coat.
Reduction, if not total elimination, of eye and ear discharge.
Some traditional veterinarians claim to have seen an increase in a variety of illnesses among dogs that are fed a raw diet as compared to dogs f ed processed kibble or cooked diets. These illnesses include, but are not restricted to, pancreatitis, toxoplasmosis, and ulcers. Vets also mention their concerns about the bacteria salmonella and listeria. To date, however, no documented studies have shown an increase in these illnesses or are
reported case of infection from those bacteria in dogs or cats. Yes, these illnesses can and do affect humans, but the chances of their being communicated from pet owner to pet are easily eliminated by washing your hands and the food bowl after the feeding.
“For the record,” says Mark, “I have been feeding my pets a raw diet for about seven years now and have had tremendous success.”