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How and what to feed your dog.

Should You Feed Your Dog Grains And Wheat?

Should You Feed Your Dog Grains And WheatIf you wander along the shopping aisles in any pet food shop, you’ll see lots of expensive, big names of foods that claim to be “grain-free.” Furthermore, you’ll see messages urging you NOT to feed your pet anything with grains and, in fact, some marketing material tries to make you have guilty feelings if you do use grainy foods.

Grain foods have been given a very bad name because of the pet-food contamination tragedy that occurred in 2007. Wheat gluten that had been imported from China contained industrial chemicals that increase the protein levels of the food and would cause serious damage to your dog’s kidneys if he eats that food. There were thousands of sick dogs and hundreds of fatalities as a result.

The grain itself wasn’t to blame, but people still recall its health problems and it was enough to make them avoid using it. If you merge that occurrence with people who go on fad diets such as the “gluten-free” fad, it’s a natural assumption that owners who are conscious about their own health would do everything possible to keep their dogs happy and healthy too.

Wheat gluten actually isn’t bad except that approx 10% of the population have an intolerance to gluten. All other humans are fine to eat it. On the other hand, the ratios for dogs still aren’t fully known in terms of accurate statistics but it’s safe to assume that some dogs also have an intolerance to gluten.

Are Allergies Caused By Grain Consumption?

Some claim that food allergies can be caused by grains. The truth is that grains DON’T create allergies. However, grains may be a target for food allergies and certain foods have a higher allergenic ratio. Foods aren’t listed as groups but as specific foods such as wheat instead of using the broad umbrella of grains.

The top five ingredients to which dogs can be allergic to are listed here (in a specific order):

• beef.
• dairy.
• wheat.
• chicken.
• egg.

Lots of dogs may be allergic to storage mites. There have been several studies revealing that if dry dog food gets opened and then stored in containers without seals for a period of six weeks, will possibly have storage mites growing inside the food.

However, these studies didn’t explore the differences between foods with and without grain. If food is stored in sealed containers (for less than four weeks) in an environment that’s dry and cool, it’s possible that mites won’t be able to grow.

Studies also showed that more dogs have allergies to house dust mites than food storage containers.

What effects can GMOs cause?

There are concerns regarding the safety of using Genetically Modified Grains (GMOs). Evidence shows that it’s possible for dogs to develop “leaky gut syndrome,” a health issue where small fissures start growing in the gut and let toxins, fats, bacteria and undigested proteins to leak into your dog’s blood and form an autoimmune reaction that causes bloating, gas, rashes, fatigue and sensitivity to foods.

However, there’s no hard evidence to prove that this happens. If you do have concerns, buy dog foods that contain grains that aren’t as popular and, therefore, less likely to have their genes modified genetically. In this list, you’ll find: quinoa, oats, barley, amaranth, buckwheat and millet.

Should domestic dogs eat the same way as wolves?

Should You Feed Your Dog Grains And WheatMany people believe that domesticated dogs should have a diet comparable to their wilder ancestors. Could you imagine a wolf gently nibbling kernels from a corncob?

Scientists acknowledge that eating is one of the many ways in which the domestic dogs differ in comparison to wolves. They believe that such a physiological change has assisted dogs in their “quest” to properly starch. There are 10 key genetic differences that allow dogs to use grains more readily than their wilder counterparts.

Foods that are free of grains doesn’t mean they’re free of plants as well. Grains actually are seeds. For example: quinoa, millet, rice, oats, oatmeal, barley, corn, wheat. Then you can add plant sources of food that are still free from grains. These include: peas, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, tapioca, potato, spinach greens, parsnips and certain fruits. Wolves don’t like these types of foods and some have a lower amount of nutrition compared to grains.

Will dogs gain weight if they eat grains?

The Atkins low carb diet is extremely popular with people for their own food. That’s where the idea for this type of diet was hatched. Grain-free foods don’t automatically mean they contain zero carbs. Whether a food is free from grains or has grains, the carb number is almost the same.

Wheat gluten has over 80% protein, is almost 100% digestible and contains an amino acid profile similar to meat proteins. When you correctly prepare corn, it’s a fantastic highly digestible carbohydrate with plenty of fibre and essential fatty acids. These can be vital if your pet has health problems that need lower amounts of protein and/or fat

Is a grain-free diet financially viable?

If you’re relying on a grain-free diet because your beloved pet has medical problems, then obviously the answer is YES! If your pet likes the grain-free diet and it helps him, and if you can afford it, then why not? However, if your dog is doing well on his non-grain diet but your budget is being stretched too much, then save money and feed him grains.

Your dog may exhibit allergenic effects, try a grain-free diet to see if it helps. However, you may wish to try non-chicken or non-beef foods to isolate the allergy. If your dog demonstrates ongoing symptoms including: regular bouts of diarrhoea vomiting or other symptoms, get him checked by your vet and discuss food options with him at the same time.

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Dogs Should Eat Raw Meaty Bones

Bullmastiff dog raw meaty bonesDogs are very clever when it comes to finding things that are good to eat. They’ll often be eating things that crawl, creep, swim, run, fly and wriggle. However, it’s rare for you to discover whole animal carcasses you can feed to your dog. Hence the need for raw meaty bones.

As with anything new, the more knowledge you have, the simpler the task becomes. If you have ample information, you don’t have fears. Fear is the acronym of False Expectations Appearing Real. Dogs rarely fear the same things owners do and will happily scoff the first raw meaty bone you give them.

Quality.

Be as natural with food as you can. A whole carcass would be perfect but if not possible, get large raw meaty bones from whatever animals are available. Wolves often only eat one species of animal (e.g. deer) and many dogs will have chicken as part of each meal.

Quantity.

Your goal for raw meaty bones should be 70% (or more) of your pet’s diet. The rest can be offal, big meat pieces and more raw bones with meat on them. Fortunately, nature is kind in supplying lots of healthy food choices for dogs.

How much food a dog eats can vary. If looking at a body weight percentage, larger dogs eat less food than their smaller counterparts. Active dogs and active, growing puppies need more than lazy dogs who sleep or watch TV all day, alongside their owners.

As a rough guide, you should feed your dog 2% – 3% of his body weight per day or 10% – 15% per week. If your dog weighs 10 kgs, he’ll eat 1.5kgs – 2 kgs of raw meaty bones every week.

If you’re feeding a puppy, follow the guide and feed him as though he’s an adult dog and feed him 2% – 3% of his anticipated weight.

How often do you feed?

Wild dogs eat when they have food so they may gorge at times and starve at other times, going for days between meals. Feeding your dog, once a day is usually often enough. Smaller dog breeds usually require twice daily feeding. This is good because evening is an ideal time because you’ll be preparing your own meal so you can also watch your beloved pet enjoy his food.

Give him big lumps of raw meaty bones so he spends time chewing and gnawing, both good for dental care. It’s also the best way to avoid him swallowing a smaller piece whole and choking on it.

It’s healthy for dogs to fast for a day or two each week. Studies reveal that slimmer dogs live longer, healthier lives. Old and/or sick dogs and puppies shouldn’t fast.

pekingese puppy raw meaty bonesWhere do you start?

Start simple at first. Stick to one source for the first couple of weeks. Chicken is cheap and easy to get. Smaller dogs like thighs and wings. Bigger dogs might need to eat a whole chicken. Chicken frames are also great to eat. Gradually you add offal and raw meaty bones from different animals.

Your dog will need a bowl in which his food can be put. Bigger items can just be given to him to eat. He may like eating on the outside lawn. If he eats inside the house, it’s best to feed him in the kitchen, laundry or shower. Put newspaper, a mat or towel down and it will be easier to clean up.

Have fun but also take care.

Raw meaty bones work as dental floss, toothpaste and a toothbrush all in one. Dogs with bad breath or sore gums can become better through eating such food. If the problem is more severe, you may need to take your dog to a dental vet. Dogs can get overprotective of bones you give them. They may bark at other dogs or small children if it appears their bones will be removed. Your dog trainer can give you ideas on how to handle such situations.

The very first time you give your pet a raw meaty bone can be a big or small act, depending on how you see it. However, it will become a different way of life for you and your dog. If you love mementos, take some photos for your scrapbook because you may enjoy showing your grandchildren how well you and your dog got along.

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The Key To Reading Dog Food Labels

Reading Dog Food LabelsIf you understand how to properly read labels on dog food, you’re a step ahead in your goal to feeding your dog a high quality commercial diet.

I’m a person who carefully analyses human food labels to work out what I’m eating so it’s logical that I would do the same for my dogs.

While it may sound easy, trying to find the ideal food may take a lifetime of analysing labels on a full time basis, a luxury nobody can afford.

I know my dogs would be healthier and happier if I could feed them a high quality diet that was economical and simple to serve up. So I started reading all labels to learn what manufacturers of dog food put on labels.

This article covers kibble, the dry food that we feed our dogs.

There are a minimum of seven parts of the label you need to study when choosing the best options.

Guaranteed Analysis.

This is the part that lists the minimum amounts of fat and protein and maximum amounts of fibre and moisture. However, it’s complicated when you try comparing different food types such as tinned food and kibble. Fat and protein levels are listed on an “as-is” basis and this also includes water.

Every dog food may have different amounts of moisture and that affects how much nutrition is actually in the food if dry-weighed. Comparing these two labels needs a little math:

1. Find the % of the nutrient (e.g. protein) on the label.
2. Find the % of moisture on the label.
3. Subtract the % of moisture from 100 to get the % of dry.
4. Divide the number from number 1 by the number in 3 and multiple by 100.

For example: A bag of dry kibble for puppies:Reading Dog Food Labels

Crude Protein – 27.0%.
Crude Fat – 16.0%.
Crude Fibre – 4.0%.
Moisture – 10.0%.

I subtract 10% from 100 and I get 90% dry. I divide 27 by 90 and multiple by 100 to get 30% protein on a dry basis.

Food for adult dogs shouldn’t have under 18% protein and, for puppies, the figure is at least 22%. In our example, the amount of 30% is obviously higher than the minimum needed.

Ingredient List.

As with human food, manufacturers of dog food must list all ingredients in the food in a descending order based on dry weight.

This may prove tricky in some cases. Manufacturers have sneaky methods for avoiding this requirement which means they can give the false impression that the food is more nutritious and more visually appealing than what’s listed on the label.

As an example, if corn was the principle ingredient in a dog food, the manufacturer might list it as corn bran, corn flour, corn middlings or corn germ meal. If chicken is the main ingredient. If chicken is in the food, it may be listed as chicken by-products or chicken as the first on the list. High quality food will usually list two different sources of animal protein among the first few ingredients.

Just to make everything more complicated, manufacturers of dog food have their own peculiar jargon. Here are just a few of the most common terms listed on labels of dog foods:

Animal by-product meal – This is any part of the rendered animal. It can be any animal that won’t fit another category. However, it can’t include hooves, horns, hide, hair, manure or contents of intestines.
Reading Dog Food Labels
By-products – These are any non-human grade forms of protein that come from the carcass of the animal. This is where your imagination can go crazy. By-products aren’t always bad. Prior to dogs becoming domesticated, the animal was killed and all of it was eaten. However, in a dog food that’s high quality, the main form of protein must be real, not “leftovers” that usually get thrown away when foods go through processing for people to consume.

Meat – This is much simpler to understand. It’s the clean flesh from slaughtered mammals such as cattle, swine, sheet or goat. It comes from the tongue, diaphragm, oesophagus, muscle or heart.

Meat Meal – This is the rendered meal made from the tissues of animals. However, it’s forbidden to have intestinal contents, horns, hooves, hide trimmings, blood, hair or manure. It can’t have over 14% of indigestible scraps. While this may not sound pleasant for humans, it actually has more minerals than meat.

Meat by-products – This is the non-rendered, fresh clean parts of the animal once it has been slaughtered. It doesn’t include meat but it does include blood, brains, spleens, kidneys, livers, stomachs, fat, bones, lungs and intestines. It’s not allowed to have hooves, hair, teeth or horns.

Meat and Bone Meal – This one is similar to the meat meal but bones can also be added.Reading Dog Food Labels

Poultry, chicken or turkey by-product meal – This is made from the clean, rendered, ground bits of the poultry carcass. If it’s only chicken, it’s only made from chicken bits. It can have feet, intestines, undeveloped eggs and necks. Feathers and beaks aren’t permitted.

Poultry, chicken or turkey by-products – This is all non-rendered parts of turkey, chicken or poultry but can’t have foreign or faecal matter.

Product Names.

Here are more words and definitions to assist you in understanding labels on dog food packaging. Some of the manufacturers use words including: premium, ultra-premium, super premium, gourmet and holistic.

There aren’t any guidelines when it comes to dog food labels. Consumers need to know that labels such as those listed above don’t actually mean the food is better than any of its competitors. It’s just a marketing trick.

If a food is organic, it must be legally certified as such and must be created and processed without the use of synthetic fertilisers, chemical pesticides, antibiotics or hormones.

If it’s claimed that the food is “natural,” it shouldn’t have chemical additives and food colourings.

There’s a 95% rule that states that all products must have 95% of the named ingredient. This doesn’t count “condiments” and water. For example, if it’s said to be chicken dog food, 95% of its weight has to be chicken. If it lists two main ingredients, the combination must be 95% of the weight.

Guidelines for Feeding Your Dog.

Guidelines on labels of dog food advise owners how much to feed their dog based on its weight. A significant difference between high and low quality food is how easy it is to digest. This is the quantity of the ingredients the dog can break down properly and readily absorb.Reading Dog Food Labels

If a food is easy to digest, the dog doesn’t need as much to eat to get the same amount of nutrients. If food is difficult to digest, the dog must eat more of it to guarantee the same quantity of nutrients. Because of these points, high quality food that’s more expensive may actually be more economical in the long run because less is needed per feed. The old adage is applicable here as well. What goes in must come out. So if less is going in, there’s less mess to clear up later.

Net Weight.

The net weight of products is a vital factor when it comes to choosing the best foods for your dog and comparing similar foods. Because manufacturers tend to use various forms of trickery such as filling a bag with extra air instead of product so it still looks full. Always compare the net weight listed on the labels.

Weights may alter over time so it’s vital to know how much dog food you’re purchasing. In recent years, a trend is appearing where people are buying smaller bags than ever before.

Manufacturer’s Information.

All dog food labels must have the name, address and phone number of the manufacturer. Many also add a website and email address which they also add to the label.

There are lots of dog foods sitting on supermarket shelves that are not made by the company or brand doing the selling. A statement appearing on the label will reveal the manufacturer of the food so you’ll know which company to be doing your research.

Always try to buy food manufactured in your home country. Avoid buying products that have had recalls if possible.

Expiry date – Last but not least, is the expiry date on the food. Most dry foods expire one year after it has been made. However, the date won’t say if the ingredients were stored properly or not, before being turned into dog food.

Even after the food has been made, the nutrients may not be as good as possible if the food has been kept in a humid, warm environment. You only know when the food was made and then you have to make your own decision.

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