Dog food is particularly important, and people are just now beginning to understand how important it is to feed a good quality food. In the most recent twenty years, research is proving that dogs are living as long as they used to, and it is likely due to the poor-quality commercial brand dog foods that they are being fed.
A good dog food will contain at least 17% protein from a good protein source. Look for meat in the form of ‘meal’ because that is a higher concentration of protein and very digestible. Chicken meal, is chicken meat that is ground, dehydrated and turned into a crumbly meal. It’s purely chicken and great protein.
You do not want to feed them anything that says ‘by-product’, for example ‘chicken by-product’ could be anything from chicken beak, feet, feathers and other by-products of chicken carcasses. This is not a good protein source. It certainly isn’t what you’re thinking you are paying for.
Dogs benefit from antioxidants, so blueberries, sweet potatoes, and things of that nature are good for your dogs. Corn, however, is not anything except filler. Dogs don’t digest corn easily and they don’t do as well on it.
In fact, their body will work twice as hard to get rid of that filler, and not only does it tax their internal organs, but it also causes you to pick-up twice the amount of poop in the yard. The better the food, the smaller the poops. Also, in the long run, you’ll have fewer medical issues with your dogs.
You want to make sure that you are getting the best food for your dog, based on the lifestyle that they lead. If they don’t do a lot of exercise, protein on the lower end of the scale is good. If you have highly active dogs, like hunting dogs that run miles every day, then you really want to up the protein in their food.
Feed working dogs 25% or more protein. This ensures that they are recovering each night from the exertion of their muscles.
Make sure that your dogs are fed twice per day, or even three times. It’s easier for them to metabolize smaller meals, more frequently. If you can’t do that, then at least twice per day is essential for them.
Adding supplements to their food is a great idea too. There are some great supplements on the market that will give them more antioxidants, bone calcium and vitamins essential to them.
How Do I Switch From this Bad Food We Have Been Giving Them?
This is a great question to address. Dogs don’t metabolize food the same way that we do. It might hit their system harder to be switched from one type of food to another in a rapid manner.
Don’t just discard the old food that you have and start feeding them a totally different food. If you do this, you are guaranteeing that you will have a case of diarrhea in your dog. This is no fun at all. Explosive diarrhea is not uncommon when changing food too rapidly.
Dog has a sensitive stomach
Some of you will know that your dog has a sensitive stomach. For you especially, making the change very slowly is in your best interest. On the first day, replace one-fourth of their meal with the new food while leaving the remaining three-fourths as the old food. Do this for a few days.
If your dog develops gas, wait until the gas stops before moving on to half and half of each. After another week, you’ll be at three quarters of new food and one quarter of old food. In the fourth week, you should have them completely switched over.
If your dog is really sensitive, you may even need to make the switch slower by adding just a sprinkle of the new food for the first week. You know your dog. If they get gas or diarrhea easily, then you should want to move extra slow. Your dog will have a much more enjoyable switch if you go slow as well.
If you upset their stomach, they may go off their food entirely for a few days. It’s not uncommon for a dog to not eat for two or three days when they are experiencing an upset stomach. If they do get an upset stomach, cut back on the mix and you can possibly give them something to help settle their stomach.
You can use Pepto-Bismol tablets – 1 quarter of a tablet for 20 pounds of dog. Only use the tablets! A natural solution to settle their stomach is to give them pumpkin. The fiber helps to clear up gas and diarrhea.
Once you get your dog switched over to a better food, you should see brighter eyes, shiny coat of fur, better skin, fewer issues with itching and scratching, smaller stools, more energy, and better appetite that is more consistent.
Always make sure that you have plenty of water down for your dogs at all times. Keeping them hydrated is important for digestion and for any diarrhea issues. Go very slowly when you switch over their food and make sure that you’re keeping an eye on them.
Some owners with fenced yards don’t pay enough attention to the stools their dogs produce. These can be the first indication of an illness, of the need to worm them, and if they are having digestion issues. Always watch the signs.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.