Is Your Pet Dog Eating Right? Lifestyle News

Is your pet dog eating right?

Pets are a part of our family and we are no longer 'pet owners' but are proud 'pet parents'. In fact, for many millennials, adopting a pet and giving up traditional parenthood is actually a better option. Surely, pets today have better and more comfortable life than what their ancestors had a few pet-generations ago.

Like doting parents, we make sure that our pet dogs have the best of everything and at the same the we cannot help worrying about the fact that lifestyle conditions like obesity, diabetes and arthritis along with serious diseases like cancer and tumour are increasingly becoming common among pet dogs. A canine lifespan study indicates that 20 per cent obesity can take away up to two years from a dog's life span. Another study conducted by The National Canine Cancer Foundation revealed that one in every three dogs suffer from cancer.

These are scary statistics but put your fears to rest, here are a few tips that will keep your pooch fit as a fiddle and ensure that his tail is always wagging...

Commercial pet food may not be always healthy

When it comes to a balanced and nutritious diet, most pet parents blindly trust any commercial pet food. But have you ever checked what exactly is stuffed in that packet?

Most of these products rely heavily on the by-products from meat processing plants for their primary protein-source. For instance, most packaged pet foods are high on grain and by-products from grains such as wheat or corn (marketed as 'wheat gluten', 'maize gluten' or 'cornmeal').

A quick glance at the ingredient label will reveal 'beet pulp', 'cellulose powder' or 'wood powder' as ingredients. These are fancy names for sugarcane bagasse, peanut-shell powder and sawdust that manufacturers add to increase the weight of the content, which also make dogs feel fuller easily. Your pet definitely doesn't need these!

Pet food is also laden with artificial flavours and taste enhancers. And not to forget, these are loaded with chemical preservatives and stabilizing agents that make them last for months on the shelf.

The next time you purchase packaged food, do check its ingredient label!

What about home-cooked food...

Home-cooked food is surely a healthier alternative, provided pet parents understand the nutritional needs of a dog.

Such diet may lack one or more nutrients, or even end up having excess of them. Both conditions tend to cause long-term deficiencies in pets. One must keep in mind that young ones and adult pets may have weaker immunity and lower digestive tolerance. Plus, just like humans, the diet needs to be planned according to their age. For instance, a pup may need a diet rich in protein, calcium and phosphorous, while an older dog may need moderate protein and a diet high in other specific nutrients.

Fortunately, a lot of content is available for those that want to do it right. A range of healthy and natural recipes can be found online. Plus, there are professional services as well that help to ensure that your pet is eating healthy. Don't forget to consult your vet!

Here's what to keep in mind...

Although we let our dogs eat bread, roti, lentil, soya, salt, sugar, onion, spice, nut and chocolate, but these aren't exactly the kind of food that are agreeable to canines. Almost all pet animals are lactose intolerant, and they cannot absorb nutrients from milk, unless it has been pre-digested as curd.

Grains and grain-based items such as breads should also be avoided. Breads contain yeast and often some preservatives that are harmful for your pets.

Complex vegetarian proteins such as lentils and soya result in higher blood urea levels in carnivorous animals. Onions can damage their red-blood cells and cause a condition called haemolytic anaemia. Sugar-substitutes, some spices, nuts, chocolates and alcohol (or food that digest into alcohol, like sugar or starch-based items) can be potentially toxic for pets.

Similarly, cooked bones pose a potential choking hazard and can cause a splinter-injury. While most of these items are seemingly safe, they have extremely detrimental effect on your furry friends.

Dogs need a balance of proteins and fats sourced from a high-quality meat and poultry. Meat-based protein contains all essential amino acids required by pets for their growth and development. Fats provide energy and help with nutrient absorption.

Additionally, they also require a complex mix of vitamins and minerals that have to be supplemented with fruits, vegetables and seeds. Bones and fur too provide some range of minerals and dietary fibre. Coconut oil can be a great addition to pet food. It provides antioxidants and is great for their skin and coat.

The best food for your pet is real food. When choosing food for your pet, ask yourself these simple questions - Is it correct, is it safe, is it natural? 'You become what you eat' applies to our pets as much as it does to us. Let's make sure our pets eat healthy, stay happy. All the best and happy pet parenting!

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