A change in diet is sometimes a must when it comes to our beloved dogs. Our four-legged family members grow from puppies to adults in the blink of an eye. Their needs and eating habits change with them. Knowing when to switch up your dog’s food can make a world of difference to your canine companion. The trick is knowing when to implement these changes. Luckily, there are five signs you can look to help you make the right choice for your beloved pooch.
Age is More Than Just a Number
Our pets cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood at a rapid pace. Dog’s age quickly in comparison to us. You may be celebrating your beloved dog ’s second birthday next month, but that is the equivalent of twenty-four candles in human years. As puppies, dogs need more protein in order to grow healthy bones and muscles. They also require a lot of calories. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, you will find that senior dogs require low fat, high fiber foods. Age plays a very important role here. Feed your adult dog too much protein and you risk exposing him or her to weight gain and liver problems. Therefore, changing their food to meet their dietary requirements as adults is a step in the right direction.
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An overweight dog is a sign that something needs to change in terms of his or her diet. Dogs with too much fat on their bodies tend to have a non-existent waistline. Some dog breeds are also at risk of becoming obese such as Cocker Spaniels, Scottish Terriers, and Rottweilers. Genetics may play a part in this but what you feed your dog can also contribute to its weight troubles. A lack of a defined waistline and accumulating fat may be the result of overfeeding or simply choosing the wrong diet for your dog. Consulting your vet is always a great option when it comes to weight changes. The vet will prescribe a tailor-made diet for your dog, taking into account its weight, size, and age. At home, opting for healthy treats such as baby carrots or low-calorie ones such as rice cakes can help curb your dog’s weight and appetite as well.
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The Clue Lies in the Coat
They say never judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to dogs, their coat can tell you a lot about their health. A shiny coat is a reflection of their wellbeing. If this coat loses its shine then a change in diet may be in order. Dogs often suffer dull and itchy coats if their diet lacks the vitamins and nutrients needed to maintain their once lustrous mane. Low-end commercial dog food may be the culprit in such cases. Switching to a premium brand that is rich in fatty acids can help restore your dog’s shiny hair and keep it in mint condition. If you tend to feed your dog a homemade diet, then a dull or itchy coat may be the result of poor nutrition. Making sure your dog receives a healthy combination of fats, minerals, and protein is the key to a healthy, shiny coat.
Food allergies in dogs are triggered when their immune system raises a red flag and attacks certain proteins found in their diet, recognizing it as a threat to the body. This results in symptoms such as itching, head shaking, vomiting, and even diarrhea. Some dogs even suffer from both skin and gastrointestinal problems at the same time. This can be a harrowing experience for both dog and owner. Food allergies of this nature can be triggered by ingredients such as fish, soy, beef, chicken, wheat and dairy products. If your dog displays signs of chronic itching or any of the above symptoms, then you must take him or her to the vet. Usually, the vet recommends what is known as -elimination diet- in order to figure out the culprit behind this allergic reaction. This means replacing your dog’s current food with a diet that contains very few ingredients. This is restricted to only one type of protein and one type of carbohydrate in addition to a combination of essential minerals, vitamins, and fats. This diet needs to be something your dog has never tried before. It can be either prescribed by the vet or made at home. Your dog needs to be fed this food for a month or more, depending on the severity of its allergy and its medical history. Keeping your dog’s condition stable is the goal here. Once your pet’s condition improves, its old diet is then re-introduced. If the same allergic reaction occurs, then the culprit behind your dog’s allergy is indeed an ingredient found in its old diet.
You are what you eat. This saying also applies to your dog. Certain foods affect and influence our mood. Recent studies have shown that eating a healthy diet can prevent anxiety and depression. Eating carbohydrates, for example, is known to raise the level of a chemical called serotonin in our brain. This chemical brings about relaxation and calmness. Serotonin is also found in animals, so like us, they are not immune to moodiness or behavioral changes. Feeding your pet too much grain, particularly corn has been found to decrease the levels of serotonin in the brain. Dogs with lower serotonin levels are more prone to aggressive behavior. If you are wondering why your dog is hyperactive then the culprit may be the artificial coloring and preservatives found in their diet. Therefore, reading the label on the food you buy, especially when it comes to dog food is incredibly important.
Nowadays, Fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are sometimes found in puppy food. This fatty acid has been shown to boost mental acuity in puppies. Senior dogs who suffer from age-related difficulties also need their fair share of brain food.
Therefore, introducing an antioxidant-rich diet for your senior dog is a great way to improve its cognitive abilities. Making small changes to your dog’s diet can make a world difference to its emotional well-being. All you need to do is read the telltale signs and make the necessary changes for a happier, healthier pooch.