5 Essential Nutrients Your Dog Isn’t Getting from His Food

Diet is a huge component to ensuring your pet is healthy and stays in optimal condition. Unfortunately, many dog foods that are on the market today offer little to no real nutritional value. You must be very conscientious in making your selections, and choose feeds that offer real and balanced nutrition.

Some foods may be lacking in very important components, such as:

High Quality Protein

Protein is important in helping your dog build and maintain muscle mass, as well as feed and nourish your dog’s bones, organs, immune system, and more.

If your dog is deficient in quality protein, he could suffer from health problems like poor immune response, anemia, and a dry brittle coat, among other things.

The kibble should also be made with meat that is considered “fit for human consumption.” There are many dog foods created using 4D meat, which is extremely unhealthy and poses many contamination risks for your furry pal.

Healthy Fats

Some kibbles may not contain enough healthy fat. Read labels carefully, and even then, take them with a grain of salt, because sometimes ingredients may be listed that aren’t even in the food, or are in such trace amounts as to be useless for health.

If your dog’s food doesn’t have a sufficient amount of healthy fats within it, he may show evidence of the lack or deficiency in his coat and skin. Good fats are also necessary for your dog’s brain, eyes, and more. They also provide a great, concentrated energy source.

Look for foods that contain herring oil, chicken fat, lamb fat, and sunflower oil for some particularly nutritious options.

Healthy Carbs

Carbs are a good energy source for your dog when they aren’t taken overboard. Just like with people, too many carbs, especially unhealthy carbs, can be detrimental to your dog’s health.

Avoid pretty much any dog foods that list corn as the first ingredient, as they offer very little nutritional value and may cause obesity, among other health ailments. Also, keep in mind it’s often a very subpar quality of corn called feed corn, or corn meal.

A better choice is to look for foods that contain carbohydrates like potatoes and rice or starchy foods like peas and garbanzo beans. These at least can offer some nutrition. Just keep in mind that it’s harder for dogs to digest grains then fats and proteins. 

Natural Vitamins and Minerals

Unfortunately, your dog food could be so highly processed, and made with such high temperatures, that virtually all the natural vitamins and minerals it may have possessed have been leeched right out of it. It’s basically been “denatured.”

This forces manufacturers to add synthetic vitamins and minerals back in. This is challenging, because your dog may not be able to synthesize them, or your dog could even be given too much of something, and it could prove toxic. Dry dog foods offer very little in the way of “natural” nutrition, and are not the best choice for keeping your pet healthy over the long-term.

Enzymes

Enzymes are essential in many processes that support and sustain the life and health of your fur baby. Dogs are born with a certain number of enzymes at birth, and that’s all they will have during their lifetime. All other enzymes must to be gleaned from the food that they eat.

Unfortunately, in the process of manufacturing dog food, along with other essential nutrients, live enzymes are mostly destroyed. The lack of enzymes in his diet can cause a noted deficiency in your pooch.

Feed Your Dog “Real” Food, Not “Franken Food”

One of the best ways to ensure your fur kiddo is being fed a healthy and nutritious diet (with all the live enzymes and natural vitamins and minerals they need to live long and happy) is to feed them “real” food.

Feeding your furry friend most commercial pet foods is similar to feeding him a daily diet of Big Mac’s and French fries. It’s also very dehydrating, and your dog needs proper hydration to function optimally.

Remember, you can’t make any health gains eating nothing but junk food and fake nutrition… neither can your dog.

10 Facts About Pet Food That Will Surprise You

Choosing a good pet food that is nutritious and healthy for your fur baby can be challenging to say the least. There are so many commercial pet foods that are (for want of a better term), nothing but dry kibble – lacking all of the essential nutrients your fur kid needs.

However, there are some pet food manufacturers that do value the health of your pet, and strive to create feed that is healthy and nutritious. It just becomes a matter of learning how to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

With that said, here are 10 surprising facts about commercial pet food that just might surprise you. Take them to heart, and keep them in mind when choosing the best pet food for your four-legged companion.

Not All Pet Foods Are Created Equal

In fact, some may be seriously subpar. There are certain pet foods that are manufactured from what is known as 4D meat. Worse, this practice is perfectly legal. 4D meat comes from diseased and disabled animals who are dying or have died. Sound yummy?

Yeah, doesn’t sound too appetizing to us either. You wouldn’t eat meat like this, so don’t feed it to your pet. Instead, make sure that the pet food you are buying is “fit for human consumption.”

Consider Feeding Your Pet “Fresh” Food

Or at least feed them fresh food part of the time. Unfortunately, whether you’re buying canned food or dry kibble, the process that makes them stable enough to sit on a shelf for months on end is so extreme that most of the time any natural nutrients that may have been present get eradicated.

This means that manufacturers are forced to add things back in, like synthetic minerals and vitamins and even artificial flavors, just to entice your pet to eat it.

Read the Ingredients. Really!

We bet you only thought you’d have to read ingredients for your own food. Unfortunately, no. Read the ingredients in your pet food of choice, and see how it measures up. Ideally you want the first ingredients to be proteins, not grains and starches.

In fact, you might consider going grain-free entirely. Often grains are corn or cornmeal based, which is highly fattening and offers very little nutritional value.

Sometimes veggies like garbanzo beans and peas may be added in as starches, and those are acceptable. Just make sure they aren’t the first ingredient listed.

Avoid “Meat Meal”

Yes, you want the first ingredients to be protein, but you don’t want that protein to be meat meal. Meat meal is basically an animal by-product, and you probably don’t want to know what goes into its production. Suffice to say, avoid, avoid, avoid.

Added Preservatives Are Unhealthy

Unfortunately, they are necessary for most commercial pet food brands, so that the food can store for indeterminate periods of time. There are some natural preservatives, but they increase production costs, which make them largely undesirable to pet food manufacturers.

Also, it’s worth noting that some preservatives are also used as pesticides, and some are even known to cause health risks, yet they are still used. Even if the preservative agent is illegal in other countries, it could still be legal here in the good old US of A.

Raw Food, Shmaw Food

There’s a belief that is being passed around that raw foods are bad for your pet and you shouldn’t feed them such nonsense. We call baloney.

Obviously, pet food manufacturers have a vested interest in making people believe kibble and canned food is better than raw or real food. It doesn’t make it true.

Just like we can thrive on a raw food diet, animals can as well. So even if you feed your pet commercial food a few times a week, then mix it up with fresh food the other days of the week, you could potentially offset nutritional deficiencies.

Protein Extenders = Bad

Protein extenders are used to save on costs. For instance, blood meal is considered a “protein extender.” However, it is essentially indigestible for your furry friend. What is blood meal, you might ask? It is blood that has been dried and powdered, and then used in various brands of pet food. The other problem with blood meal is that it has the potential to pass along mad cow disease to dogs.

Buyer Beware of Heavy Metals

Metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium have been found in commercial pet foods. Obviously, this is not desirable, nor healthy. 

Nutrient Poison

Another fun factoid: because the manufacturing process depletes nutrients, pet food manufacturers will add back in synthetic nutrients. Sometimes this can be overkill, and even toxic to your animal, such as too much vitamin A or vitamin D.

To Meat or Not to Meat…

Because too much meat can mess with a manufacturers machines, most dry kibbles are made up of about 50% of the good stuff. If it’s the good stuff. See point number 1.

Remember to research your options, and choose your pet food wisely.

Your Dog’s Kibble Isn’t Enough: The Truth About Commercial Pet Food

When it comes to your fur baby, (and obviously, the key word here is “baby”), you want to feed them as healthy a diet as possible. For most pet owners, their dog is like a member of the family, and you certainly wouldn’t feed other members of your family only unhealthy foods or an unbalanced diet.

Therefore, why would you sacrifice quality and nutrition when it comes to your four-legged friend? Unfortunately, most commercial dog food does just that… sacrifices quality and balanced nutrition, at the expense of you and your dog.

A healthy diet equals a healthy (and long) life. In a day and age where 40% of dogs have packed on more pounds than is optimal, and 46% of dogs today die from diseases like cancer, you should want to give your pet the best chance possible at a long and healthy life. Heart, liver, and kidney disease is on the rise, and it all boils down to being mindful of just what you are feeding your pet.

Much like humans, what you put into your dog is what comes out. If you feed them a poor diet every day, it can manifest itself into various illnesses and ailments. Not the goal when you go to pick up that bag of dog food, right?

So, let’s talk about a few truths when it comes to commercial dog food, so you can see how so many of them miss the mark when it comes to nourishing your furry little cuddle buddy.

Complete and Balanced is a Best Guess

Just because something says it, doesn’t make it true. While it would be nice to believe that one single brand of dog food can meet all the nutritional needs of your dog, the reality is that is most likely not the case.

There is no single brand of dog food that will meet all of your dog’s nutrient needs all the time. Therefore, food rotation and supplementation is encouraged. Which leads us to truth number two.

It’s Healthier to Mix It Up

It’s perfectly fine to mix your dog’s food up. As a matter of fact, it’s important to mix it up for your dog, to ensure that the diet they are being fed truly is “balanced and complete.”

If you think about it, would you like to eat the same thing day in and day out? Probably not. So, if you wouldn’t, why would your dog?

They need variety too, and the message that switching their feed could give them a bellyache, while potentially true in the short-run, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. An upset stomach can actually be a sign that your dog has nutritional deficiency somewhere, and needs a wider variety of food.

Just like people, when your dog is not nutritionally sound, his gut will not work optimally. Once your dog gets the complete nutrition he needs, and his gut heals and begins to work the way it’s designed to do, then he can eat different foods on a regular basis with no issues, just the way we as people do.

Dry Dog Food or Canned?

Dry dog food (also called kibble) can be quite dehydrating. It has been linked to bloat as well as other health problems in both dogs and cats. Dry dog food is exposed to extreme heat during the production phase. Extreme heat causes a loss of potency in the nutritional value, in some cases destroying up to 75% of nutrients and vitamins.

Canned food is a tad bit more “fresh”, and less heat is used to create it, increasing its nutritional value. However, there’s still nothing that beats real (fresh) food for your pet.

Whether it’s cooked or raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, or frozen… these forms offer much higher nutrition options for your fuzzy pal, and should be weighed carefully against the kibble brands you choose if you want to feed your pet the healthiest diet available.

Filling Your Dog Up With Corn

If you read the ingredients on the back of the food bag, you’ll find that the first one is most often corn, or some derivative of corn. This is because it’s a cheap filler, and lowers the costs of production.

Dog’s bodies are not designed to properly process corn by-products. Corn has even been identified as a possible allergen for dogs. When the main ingredient in your dogs food is corn or a corn by-product, you are feeding your pet a food that will not be easily digested or absorbed in their gut.

You will typically find corn used as a filler in the cheaper, low cost dog foods. To ensure that your dog is receiving wholesome nutrition, and not being filled up with corn at every meal, be sure to do your research and check the label for nutrition information! Your furry four-legged family member will not receive complete, balanced nutrition on food with grain filler as the main ingredient!

Dog Food “Good”, People Food “Bad”- Not!

Obviously, there are some foods that a dog cannot and should not eat. Things like grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, and garlic to name a few. Also, never give your dog any foods with Xylitol (it can be deadly), and stay away from allowing them chocolate as well. Other than those few no no’s, for the most part dogs can eat the same foods as humans do and be all the healthier for it.

Think of it like this… feeding your dog some commercial dog foods is similar to feeding your dog granola bars every day. Since we already know eating only processed food on a daily basis is not healthy for you, it stands to reason that a “processed food only” equivalent is also not healthy for your dog.

As more research is conducted on the proper diet for dogs, we are learning that a processed food only diet is no longer enough. Processed foods make for a longer shelf life and ease of feeding and convenience, but lack the complete proper nutrition necessary. We now understand that dog’s need whole food nutrition for optimal health and wellness!

Animal By-Product… What is It?

If you tend to feed your dog the cheaper brands, you can bet the cheaper the brand, the cheaper the ingredients will be. Corn and cornmeal will usually be the very first ingredient listed with “animal by-product” as the protein source. This kind of dog food is lacks proper, complete nutrition and can potentially lead to of health problems and diseases.

Keep in mind that the final rendered product that comes out of these many manufacturers of pet food is supposed to be labeled properly, and list its dominant animal source. However, it is hard to identify the main animal source when several different meats are used. As a result, food often gets labeled with terms like “meat by-product” or “animal by-product” as well as “animal fat”. Pretty ambiguous, right? It doesn’t tell you much.

Another unfortunate problem with this practice is that the meat sources can be contaminated. When companies chose to use ingredients such as “meat by-product” or “animal by-product”, these mix of animal species could have been on unknown drugs or antibiotics that can potentially be passed through the food to your pet!

Frankly, some commercial grade dog food is made of material that is considered “unfit for human consumption” … yet somehow it is deemed okay to feed to your dog. It is important to be aware of what you are feeding your dog!

What You Can – and Should Be Doing

This information may be startling, to say the least, but this is not to scare you away from feeding your furry four-legged friend his pet food! What you should take away from all of this information is how necessary it is to take the time to do research on what the best option is for your pet.

This is why you should always check the labels and ingredients of the dog food that you choose to buy, and try to find the brands that truly value animal life. They are out there, you just have to look for them. You also will probably pay a little more for them, but the health of your dog is worth it.

Do your due diligence! Research different dog food brands to compare what they have to offer. Select one that has high quality standards and creates their food recipes based on research and the help of nutritionists. Try to find brands of dog food that have wholesome nutrition and natural ingredients. Take the time to find options that are grain free and do not use any fillers. This can be time consuming, but well worth it for your fur friend’s health!

There are pet food companies that truly want to help you nourish your dog so that you can equip them to live a long and healthy life. Stay far away from the subpar cheaper brands that rely on fillers and by-product to keep costs low. Strive to make the health of your pet top priority and purchase the highest quality food that you can reasonably afford.

Best Exercises for Older Dogs: Keeping Fido in Shape

While pounding the pavement for hours chasing balls or romping in the dog park might have been your puppy’s cup of tea, as your dog has gotten older, they have likely changed their exercise habits. As a fur parent, it’s important to adjust your routine to guarantee that your fur baby stays happy and healthy.

Here we will go through our top three favorite exercises for older dogs and why they are a safe bet. Then, we will dive into some tips to remember when exercising with your senior dog.

Best Exercises for Your Senior Dog

Swimming

Swimming is a great exercise for older dogs because it will still get their cardiovascular system going without as much pressure on their joints and hips. As good as running is for your fur child, as they get older you need to be more cautious of high-impact exercises. A quick swim can do wonders for your doggie and is a fun way to get them moving.

Shorter Walks

Studies still show that walking is a wonderful form of exercise for both humans and dogs and senior dogs are no exception. Rather than focusing on long, strenuous walks like you might have done when your fur baby was younger, spend time doing more frequent, slower, shorter walks.

The important part of exercise for older dogs is increasing mobility and overall health, and walking is a great way to do this. While you may have opted for walks that would tucker your puppy out, focus on strong, consistent movement for your older dog.

Fetch (With a Few Changes!)

There is no game more classic than fetch and even older dogs still love the chase. But you have to remember your senior dog still has a few limitations with this classic game.

When playing fetch with a senior dog, instead of trying to throw the ball as far as you can, throw it shorter distances that are easier for your dog to manage. Also take into consideration the surface they are running on. Undoubtedly, grass or soft dirt is going to be better for your dog’s joints than hard pavement.

Lastly, make sure to not throw the ball or Frisbee too high to get your dog to jump. While some dogs may have loved this in their prime, the force of jumping up and landing hard is too much for most older dogs. Plus, this jumping movement puts your pup at increased risk of injury.

These are just a few of exercises that are appropriate for your senior dog. Some other favorites can be adapted to fit your dog’s wants and needs. Now, let’s look at some things to keep in mind when exercising with your senior dog.

Exercise Tips for Senior Dogs

When exercising your fur baby, make sure to take into account your dog’s comfort and safety. Here are a few helpful tips for exercising your senior dog:

  • Monitor your dog’s energy levels as they play. If you see your fur baby acting especially sluggish, or they show signs that they don’t want to exercise any more, stop the activity and make sure they are okay. This will assure that you aren’t pushing your pooch too far.
  • Think about your dog’s joints and muscles. Like mentioned in the previous exercises, you must consider the impact your exercises have on your dog’s joints. Avoid any hard jumping, running, or other exercises that may damage your puppy’s hips and knees.
  • Think of your dog’s surroundings as you play. This includes not going outside when it is too hot or too cold, not playing on hills or other rough surfaces for too long, and other environmental considerations. The last thing you want is for your senior dog to get too dehydrated, hot, or uncomfortable while trying to get a little exercise in.
  • Monitor your dog’s breath. While some panting is natural, if your dog is starting to cough, hack, or is experiencing another abnormal breathing behavior, stop the exercise immediately. This breathing can be a sign of another internal issue such as heart issues, lung problems, or even tracheal collapse.

Exercise is crucial to keep your senior dog healthy, but it’s also important to know what activities suit your dog’s needs. These exercises will get your senior dog moving but are adapted for their change in physical activity.

How to Care For Your Senior Dog

If your once boisterous pup is now a little sluggish or your ball-crazy retriever can’t fetch for quite as long, chances are your dog is entering his senior years. Senior dogs require a different level of care than younger dogs and pet parents should be aware of the changes happening in their pooch. Along with recognizing these changes, fur parents should also be aware of some tips that will help make life easier for both dog and owner.

Let’s first define what is considered “senior” in dog years and then look at some tips to help take care of your senior dog.

Is My Dog a “Senior”?

Whether or not your fur kid is considered a “senior” will depend on his breed, age, health issues, and more. Generally, extra large breeds like Great Danes mature faster than toy breeds. An average Great Dane will reach his senior years at about six years old. Comparatively, a Chihuahua may not hit her senior years until 10 or 11. In the middle, mid-sized breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors are considered seniors around 8 or 9 years old.

In addition to breed, lifestyle plays a big role in how your fur baby ages. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise will lead to a longer, healthier life.

How to Care for a Senior Dog

Just like caring for our aging family members, aging dogs require a higher level of attention and care than their younger counterparts. If you have a senior dog at home, remember to take them to the vet regularly, adjust his diet, take care of his dental hygiene, and exercise him appropriately.

Schedule Regular Vet Visits

One of the most important things to do for a senior dog is to get on a regular vet schedule to ensure that all health problems are addressed proactively. For younger dogs, most vets recommend scheduling annual appointments, but for older dogs the appointments should be at least semi-annually. These appointments are especially important if your dog has a chronic health issue.

In addition to scheduling more frequent vet appointments, you should know how to ask the right questions to get answers that will benefit you and your furry friend. Ask for a complete body exam, which will put your mind at ease and guarantee that you are taking the best care of your aging dog.

Change Your Dog’s Diet

Your vet will likely recommend a change in diet for your senior dog. Most pet food companies make a variety of foods that fulfill different needs, including puppy, adult, and senior food. These formulas are designed to provide your pooch with the optimal nutrition they need at their life stage.

In addition, make sure that you continue to provide your senior dog with the highest quality food that you can. Dogs are mostly carnivores. Therefore, food that has any sort of grain as their primary ingredient will be harder for your dog to digest. A high protein diet is ideal for aging dogs. Your senior dog might also eat less than he did when he was younger because his metabolism is slowing down and he is likely less active.

Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

Dental issues can arise at any time during your dog’s life, but are especially common as he gets older. Dental diseases can cause unnecessary problems for your dog and can have worsening effects on the heart, liver, and kidneys. To prevent this, make sure to have your vet clean your dog’s teeth at your semi-annual checkups. You can also brush your pup’s teeth at home using specially-made toothbrushes and toothpaste (some even taste like bacon!).

Your dog’s dental health is an indicator of internal and external health and taking care of them is one more step towards keeping your senior dog healthy.

Gentle Exercise

Some senior dog owners think that they don’t need exercise because they aren’t as agile, but this isn’t the case. In fact, regular exercise will help your senior dog stay flexible and improve his heart health. But make sure not to push your senior dog too hard when it comes to exercise. Some senior dogs can play at the park for hours, while for some a walk around the block is all the exercise they need.

These are just a few ways you can take care of your senior dog and provide him with the highest level of care. With proactive diligence and an understanding owner, a senior dog will enjoy health and happiness during his golden years.