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Is Your Dog Getting The Nutrition They Need?

Your dog's health can be deteriorating for months and sometimes even years without you noticing. In the article below written by award-winning Dr. Tuk, learn exactly what can be affecting your dog's health and what you can do to stop it.

A Simple Way to Improve Your Dog’s Health

By Dr. Edward Tuk, DVM

  By Dr. Edward Tuk, DVM

  April 5th, 2020

Dog Nutrition & Health

Dr. Edward Tuk, DVM

Dr. Tuk is an award-winning veterinarian and author of three books on canine nutrition.

Did you know that common issues for dogs including bad breath, stinky poop, itchy skin, lower energy, or being overweight - all can be a result of your dog’s diet?

It’s pretty obvious that we humans are impacted by the food we eat. If we eat high quality protein and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, we’re going to feel a whole lot healthier than if we were to spend years eating a diet of fried food and cookies.

The same is true for our dogs.

That sounds obvious, and simple – yet millions of dog lovers have no idea that their dogs are NOT getting the nutrition they need for optimum health.

As a veterinarian and the author of several books on canine nutrition, I can tell you based on first-hand experience with thousands of dogs, that nutrition has a massive impact on our dog’s health -- and on the quality and length of their lives.

This isn’t just my opinion as a veterinarian. Scientific research is steadily proving the link between what dogs eat and their health outcomes.

A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that the dogs who ate certain vegetables had a 70% to 90% lower risk of developing cancer, compared to the dogs that consumed the least amount of those vegetables.

So, the question is, how should dog owners make sure their dogs are getting the proper nutrition for their optimal health?

With all of the dog foods available to choose from, and all the competing advertisements, it’s hard for people to know how to choose what’s right for their dog.

I’m going to lay out some facts and suggestions in this article to help.

Commercial Dog Food

The majority of dogs primarily eat commercial dog food – some combination of dry kibble and moist canned food. And while there are significant variations between different brands and products, here are a few general points to keep in mind:

First, ignore the marketing efforts of the manufacturers, and focus on the ingredients within the food. The word ‘premium’ on the package does nothing for your dog – it’s what your dog actually eats that counts!

Second, try to avoid ‘filler’ ingredients like corn, soy, and wheat. These ingredients generally aren’t harmful, but they are not particularly nutritious, and (as with human food) we want to make our dogs’ calories as nutrient-rich as possible.

Third, dogs need plenty of protein. If the first ingredient on the dog food label isn’t a protein (typically chicken, beef, or some other meat), that is often a red flag indicating that the food may not contain sufficient protein – particularly if the food contains fillers.

Fourth, the quality of the meat source matters. Whole meat (often listed on the label simply as ‘chicken’ or ‘beef’) is better than processed meat such as chicken by-products or ‘chicken meal’. Avoid non-specific proteins like “meat meal” or “meat by-products” as those are generally very low in quality. And also check the source of the meat -- some locations like New Zealand are well-regarded for the quality of their meats, while other locations including parts of Asia have less stringent quality control standards.

Last but not least, regardless of the specific brand or product you choose, don’t rely just on the commercial dog food to provide all the nutrients your dog needs. This is because the manufacturers need to design the food so that it has a long shelf life – up to two or three years – so they use a very high-pressure and high-temperature cooking process, which unfortunately is not hospitable to the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that were in the original ingredients.

I always tell my clients to picture the same process with an apple. If you took a fresh apple, and cooked it under incredibly high pressure, until it turned into a dense brown piece of kibble about the size of a pea, which do you think would be healthier - the original apple, or that clump of kibble?

So, if commercial dog food is a substantial part of your dog’s diet, be sure your dog is getting plenty of nutrients from sources other than the commercial food. I would recommend a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and/or using a high-quality nutritional supplement. (I am admittedly a bit biased on this latter suggestion but the nutritional company I work with, Canine Sciences, makes a great nutritional supplement called Radiant Canine.

 

The Raw Diet Alternative

Because of the limitations of most commercial dog food, and because people are increasingly aware of the importance of nutrition for their dogs, raw diets have become increasingly popular.

A raw diet for dogs consists primarily of fresh meat, such as chicken or beef. A raw diet usually provides plenty of healthy protein, and it avoids some of the potential problems of the high-pressure high temperature commercial cooking process. For those reasons I believe a raw diet can be significantly healthier than kibble or canned commercial dog food.

As with a commercial diet, I would recommend that you supplement a raw diet by also feeding your dog a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and/or a high-quality nutritional supplement, to ensure your dog gets all of the nutrients they need.

If you do choose to put your dog on a raw diet, please don’t just buy raw meat produced for humans – that meat for humans is sold with the expectation it will be cooked, and it could contain harmful pathogens if eaten raw. By contrast, the raw meat included in commercial raw dog diets has generally been treated in a way that kills most pathogens, so that is generally safer for your dog than raw human meat.
 

Home-Cooked Meals

Most dog owners buy ready-made food for their dog. It’s easy, and I’m not saying you have to stop doing that.  

But I suggest you try cooking your dog a fresh meal – just like you might cook for yourself or your family. Perhaps once or twice per week, perhaps more, perhaps less – whenever you have time.

When you do this, not only are you getting some fresh healthy nutrition into your dog, you might also be helping to counteract some of the negative effects from commercial dog food.  

For example, studies show that a diet rich in antioxidants can help combat the negative effects of advanced glycation end products (which are often contained in commercial dog food), which could help explain why dogs who eat more vegetables on a regular basis seem to be at much lower risk for developing cancer.  

It’s not that difficult or time-consuming to prepare a healthy meal for your dog!

To help you try this, I’m giving away a free copy of one of my books – ‘Healthy Home-Cooked Meals For Your Dog’. 
 
 
The book includes 15 healthy and easy to make recipes – your dog will love them, and you’ll enjoy giving your dog this occasional special treat!

The book is in PDF format so you can read it on your computer, phone, or tablet. Just sign up for the Canine Sciences newsletter below and you’ll receive the book by email, along with our free newsletter which includes more information on canine nutrition, your dog’s health, and of course the occasional super-cute dog photos. ☺

The book includes 15 healthy and easy to make recipes – your dog will love them, and you’ll enjoy giving your dog this occasional special treat!

The book is in PDF format so you can read it on your computer, phone, or tablet. Just sign up for the Canine Sciences newsletter below and you’ll receive the book by email, along with our free newsletter which includes more information on canine nutrition, your dog’s health, and of course the occasional super-cute dog photos. ☺

Sign up for the Free Canine Sciences Newsletter!

Not interested in the Healthy Home-Cooked Meals book, but interested in promotional pricing on our flagship nutritional product, Radiant Canine? Click here or below to get promotional pricing now

Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. These products are not intended for pets with medical conditions. Use only as directed.


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