How Do I Know If I’m Feeding My Dog the Right Food?
The best evidence that you’ve chosen the right dog food is your dog itself. Your dog’s inward and outward appearance is tangible, visible proof that you’re dishing up food that meets its nutritional needs.
While other factors can also affect your dog’s health and behavior, making sure your dog eats appropriately is fundamental to its well-being. Fortunately, there are several ways your dog reflects your food choice, say experts.
Here Are Seven Signs Your Dog Is Thriving On Well-Balanced, Nutritious Dog Food:
A Shiny Coat and Healthy Skin
If your dog has a dull, dry, and brittle coat with flaking skin, diet could be to blame, says Dr. Bart Iaia, DVM, who practices in Renton, Wash. Look for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in dog food, says Dr. Iaia. Your pet needs these essential fats. Flaky skin could be a sign of a zinc deficiency, a problem with home-cooked diets.
A Healthy Digestive System
Poop is more than the stuff you, ever the responsible dog owner, scoop regularly. Poop matters, say Dr. Iaia and Dr. Laird Goodman, DVM, a Beaverton, Ore., veterinarian who is on the board of directors for the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. “You want good stools — firm, but not dry, and not loose,” advises Dr. Goodman. Note how often your dog poops as well, says Dr. Iaia. If your dog poops more than twice a day, that’s an indication your dog’s food might not contain enough protein in forms it can use. You can be reassured if your dog’s food has “complete and balanced” on the label.
A Resilient Immune System
Vitamin E and antioxidants will help your dog stave off illness, building its immune system, says Dr. Iaia. Veterinary research has found that a diet rich in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, improves immune system responses. A robust immune system is vital as your dog ages since a dog’s ability to fight illnesses weakens as it grows older.
Strong Bones and Joints
Calcium and vitamin D make for healthy bones in your dog, just as they do for you. Dog owners who feed their dog meat, rather than a well-balanced commercial food, run the risk of their pet suffering soft bones, resulting in fractures, experts say. Well-balanced dog food will include all such essential nutrients.
A veterinarian can use X-rays to evaluate your dog’s bone density if a problem is suspected, says Dr. Korinn E. Saker. Dr. Saker is a DVM, Ph.D., a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, and a clinical nutritionist at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. X-rays can also detect hairline fractures and other “less obvious” health problems caused by poor nutrition, such as urinary tract stones, adds Dr. Saker.
Healthy Teeth and Gums
Your dog’s teeth should be firm and white, with healthy, pink gums covering the roots. If you notice a reddening of the gums, a buildup of tartar on the teeth, or bad breath, it can indicate dental problems, says Dr. Iaia. Some dry foods and dog treats are designed to slow any dental disease progress, so look for products that specifically mention dental care or tartar-fighting properties.
Hourglass figures aren’t just for movie stars. Your dog should maintain good muscle tone, with an hourglass shape when viewed from above, says Dr. Saker. “Obese dogs have lost the tucked-up appearance just after the ribcage when viewed from the side,” she says. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs but not see them. If your dog is eating a lot but looks too thin, you’re probably not feeding high-quality dog food, says Dr. Iaia.
A Healthy Heart
A well-balanced, complete dog food will include protein, calcium, amino acids, fatty acids, potassium, and sodium to promote heart health. Your veterinarian can evaluate your dog’s heart health through regular checkups, and if needed, blood work.
Seven could be your dog’s lucky number in its future health if it exhibits these positive signs. Dr. Goodman advises that you avoid feeding your dog table scrap handouts and too many treat snacks. Instead, stick to a quality diet that both you and your dog can count on. And don’t be afraid to discuss the matter with your veterinarian, who may be able to provide additional nutrition-related advice. Dr. Goodman suggests, “Take the label from your food to the veterinarian to have a better understanding of what you’re providing your dog.”
Article written by Author: Kim Boatman