How To Choose A Dog Food ?
The starting point of a good dog food is to cover all the nutritional needs of the dog:
- in calories
- all essential nutrients: amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, etc.
The best food can have the worst effects if it is not fed in reasonable quantities. Dog food bags have daily ration charts based on your dog’s weight. Weigh your dog regularly and adjust rations as weight changes.
Dry, Wet Or Home ?
Dogs are gluttons by nature. Wet foods, because of their texture and palatability, have advantages at the time of weaning. On the other hand, dogs often tend to eat this type of food very (or even too) quickly. You may be tempted to give him something to eat when he comes to you! Remember that overfeeding always leads to overweight.
Dry dog food has the great advantage of being easy to dose (even if the recommended daily volume seems low). Dry dog food keeps well and, if it is a high quality food, it will be perfectly adapted to your dog’s needs. Their composition will perfectly match your dog’s needs according to his specificities. There are nutritional puzzles and dry foods that are suitable for every type of dog and every stage of its life.
Home-made food (prepared at home) is very difficult to dose and balance according to the dog’s real needs. The meat/rice/vegetable mixture must be supplemented with a specific mineral and vitamin intake.
Take Into Account The Size Of The Dog
Small dogs (< 10 kg) are much more affected by dental disease than large dogs. Giving kibble of a size, shape and texture that encourages the dog to chew helps with oral hygiene.
A Concrete Example
A 50 kg Rottweiler does not need 5 times more calories than a 10 kg Cocker spaniel. Its caloric intake only needs to be multiplied by 3.3. This difference is especially important to consider during growth. This is a period when the daily energy requirement is very important.
Large breed puppies are also much more sensitive than small breeds to excess calcium in their diet. Therefore, a large breed puppy food normally has a lower energy density than a small breed puppy food. The calcium level should be calculated according to the daily ration to be fed to the dog.
The Case Of Large Dogs
Large dogs produce wetter (and less easily scooped!) stools than small dogs. An immediate improvement can then be obtained by seeking maximum protein digestibility.
The choice of raw materials and the care taken in cooking the food therefore have a major influence on the consistency of the stool.
The Puppy’s Nutritional Deficiency
A deficiency occurs when the diet does not contain enough of an essential nutrient.
For industrially formulated feeds, the generalization of the use of food standards due to the knowledge of the animal and its needs, makes this type of deficiency quite unlikely. For home-prepared foods, it is quite different.
In fact, certain ingredients inhibit the absorption of a nutrient. These anti-nutritional factors are often well known. The resulting disorders are now observed only exceptionally.
The temptation for the owner to add an ingredient to his dog’s food to “please him” can have serious consequences.
Some Mistakes Not To Make
Excessive consumption of raw egg white in the diet causes a deficiency in biotin (Vitamin H). This will have consequences on the quality of the coat:
- hair loss,
- skin lesions,
- neuromuscular disorders.
Overconsumption of raw fish can cause a deficiency in vitamin B1 (thiamine), which is essential for the functioning of the nervous system.
Bone demineralization, which causes fractures, and soft tissue calcification, which causes heart problems, are linked to a vitamin D deficiency.
Long-term antibiotic treatments will also disturb the intestinal flora. They can also lead to malabsorption of nutrients and thus cause deficiencies. Any medical treatment must be done under the supervision of your veterinarian.
Too Low Digestibility Of The Feed
A food that is not digestible enough (poor quality proteins) often results in :
- digestive disorders of the puppy,
- soft and foul-smelling stools,
- diarrhea causing malabsorption of nutrients and may lead to deficiencies.
Finally, any disease leading to an alteration of the digestive absorption phenomena leads to secondary deficiencies. For example
- chronic intestinal parasitism: the dog loses weight, its coat becomes altered.
- chronic pancreatic insufficiency: the poor digestion of fats is also responsible for weight loss, but also for a deficiency in essential fatty acids.
When disorders are observed that may be related to a lack of this or that nutrient, it is advisable to first question the food supplements that are distributed to him. Pathological predispositions are also related to the breed and its general health.