food & nutrition
Wellness: Food & Nutrition
Whether you feed your dog a premium commercial food or prepare homemade meals, it is important to understand the fundamentals of canine nutrition. Here is a review of the basics to help you get started in making the right and informed choices for your dog.
There are six major classes of nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.
It all begins with energy, the basic requirement of life. The energy content(measured in calories) of a food is determined by how much of the first three elements the food contains. Vitamins and minerals are also essential for many functions of the body and, because about 70 percent of a dog’s body is made up of water, that too is critical.
Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids. While dogs, cats and even humans produce about half of these amino acids internally, the other half, termed “essential amino acids,” need to be provided by the diet. The 10 essential amino acids are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. If even one of these “essentials” is deficient, as Lowell Ackerman, DVM, explains, the body cannot make specific proteins effectively. Amino acids work in a step-by-step fashion to manufacture protein.
If one of the steps is missing, the process stops. The biological value of proteins indicates how efficiently an animal utilizes them. Animal nutrition expert Donald Strombeck, DVM, notes that this value is high for proteins from meat, most meat by-products, eggs and dairy products. “Dogs digest these proteins efficiently and they provide amino acids in proportions suitable for tissue protein synthesis. In contrast, the biological value of most plant proteins is low, due to insufficiencies of specific amino acids and lower digestibility.”
Like protein’s essential amino acids, fat has its own essential fatty acids (EFAs): linoleic acid, linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. Because they make up an important part of every cell, they are also required by animals. Linoleic acid is the source of omega-6 fatty acids, and linolenic acid is the source of omega-3 fatty acids. According to Strombeck, animals need more omega-6 (linoleic acid) than omega-3 fatty acids for health.
Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains can furnish iron, minerals and fiber as well as other beneficial nutrients. Since cooking determines starch digestibility, and therefore its availability, starches need to be well cooked; otherwise, they tend to ferment in the large intestine. Carbohydrates can be found in vegetables and fruit, which also supply minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals and some protein.
First, establish the amount of dry matter by subtracting the percentage given for moisture from 100 percent. If the moisture is given as 10 percent, the food’s dry-matter content is 90 percent.
Next, convert the protein found in the Guaranteed Analysis statement to a drymatter basis by dividing its percentage by the amount of dry matter (calculated in the previous step). For example, if the protein is given as 26 percent, it converts to 28 percent on a dry-matter basis (26 divided by 90). If the moisture level had been, say, 30 percent, the dry matter content would have been 70 percent and protein would have been 37 percent (26 divided by 70).
You can do similar calculations for fat and fiber after converting their percentages to a dry-matter basis.
Treats are often high in calories, so factor them in when thinking about your dog’s overall food intake. It is recommended that “treat substitutes” make up no more than 5 to 10 percent of a dog’s diet. If the calorie count isn’t listed on the label, find out what it is before giving them to your dog. Contact the manufacturer for calorie information if need be.
To keep bagged treats fresh — and make it a little more difficult for the diligent treat-hound to score — keep the bags sealed. If the seal doesn’t work (often they don’t), use heavy-duty zip lock–type bags or store them in glass or ceramic containers with tightfitting lids.
Dogs love variety, and with the wide array of treats on the market, it’s easy to find a selection that will satisfy most co-pilots.
News: Guest Posts
A plain old biscuit just doesn't cut it.
Desoto was a fast food fiend. It started out innocently enough. Years ago, after each obedience class, my late Catahoula and I would take a trip through the McDonald's drive-through where he would receive his own small fries. I savored watching him enjoy them almost as much as he enjoyed devouring them. As he graduated to more advanced sports and skills, his treats became more varied, including a Dairy Queen soft serve cone and the sausage from my breakfast sandwich.
Last weekend, my mix, Ginger Peach, earned a vanilla custard cup from Culver's after a good day of agility showing. Of course, I got a treat, too, a chocolate concrete with Nestlé crunch. During the week, when I take my dogs on errands, they often receive complimentary treats: crunchy biscuits from the bank teller, Puppaccinos compliments of the Starbucks barista, and drool-worthy Pup Cups at a local custard shop.
How do you treat your dog? Where is the most surprising place for your dog to get treats?
Tasty Snacks for Your Dog
Every dog deserves the occasional cookie, but some treats can trigger allergies or tummy trouble. Dog Cookies comes to the rescue with 30 easy-to-follow recipes for healthy, allergen-free treats—including vegetarian and gluten-free treats—so you can find the perfect cookie no matter your dog’s diet.
Important: Always allow the waffles to cool before eating.
*Spelt flake contains gluten
Printed with permission of Veloce Publishing Ltd., publishers of Dog Cookies by Martina Schöps
Organic Schmear Delights
Pet Fairy Noshers is another new product that Kit and all her doggy housemates, including old-guy Lenny, are simply gaga for. This tasty “schmear” is just right for hollow-toy and sterilized-bone stuffing (we’ve used it in the TreatToob, too). Ingredients include pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, organic honey and cinnamon, plus other luscious goodies. Lovingly made in small batches in northern Vermont, this “barkalicious” spread also makes a wonderful gift. 16 oz. in a glass jar, $8 to $10. Amazon.com.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Rescued pup became obese from a junk food diet
At 187 pounds, Samson, a recently rescued Black Labrador in Australia, is easily the most obese dog in the country. Unsurprisingly, Samson is showing signs of high blood pressure, a common side effect of packing on the extra pounds. Making matters worse, Samson can't even safely exercise until he looses some weight.
Samson got to his current state because his previous family fed him a diet of burgers, pizza and other unhealthy foods. Fortunately, Samson was rescued by the Animal Aid shelter in Coldstream who immediately put him on a strict diet. They hope to get him to a healthy weight by the end of the year so he can be adopted.
Many people ask me if it's okay to feed their dogs human food and are ashamed to admit that they feed table scraps as treats. I always find it funny because I liberally feed leftovers as treats. In fact many human foods are healthier than commercial dog treats! Unfortunately, stories like Samson's give human food a bad reputation for pups.
Do you feed your dog human food?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
NYC boasts the first CSA dog food
Chelsea Market is one of my favorite foodie places in Manhattan. New York City may seem like an unlikely place to get food fresh from the farm, but tourists and locals flock to Chelsea Market to find gourmet treats and wholesome food.
Now dogs can enjoy healthy food from Chelsea Market too.
Farm to Bowl is a collaboration between Stacy Alldredge, a certified canine nutritionist, and Jake Dick, owner of Dickson's Farmstand, a New York City butcher shop that works with small, sustainable farms that are committed to humane treatment of its animals.
As a canine nutrition consultant, Stacy has always advised her clients that preparing your own dog food is the best way to ensure a healthy diet made from good ingredients. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to make their own food.
Farm to Bowl makes a wholesome, diet easy for everyone, although the price limits the customer base. Each package, which retails for $10, provides one meal for a 60-70 pound dog. So it would cost me approximately $300 to feed one of my dogs for a month. It's certainly more economical for the smaller dogs of Manhattan.
However, you certainly can't beat the convenience and fresh ingredients. Farm to Bowl is made each Saturday from locally sourced meat and seasonal fruits, and claims to be the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) dog diet.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Tufts study finds difference in perception and reality
I’m a big believer in "you are what you eat," so you can understand why my dogs’ diet is really important to me. I definitely worry more about what I’m feeding my pups than about what I feed myself!
There’s so much in the canine nutrition world to navigate—raw food, home-cooked meals, kibble, just to name a few. And if you feed a commercial diet, do you choose a specialty formula geared towards puppies, seniors or large-breed dogs?
It seems that I’m not the only one with a certain amount of confusion on this topic. A study published this month by veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University found that the nutritional content of senior pet foods varies as widely as consumers’ perceptions about them.
Most respondents believed that senior dog foods contained less calories, fat, protein and sodium, but senior diets on the market vary widely in these areas. Additionally, about 43 percent of respondents fed their dogs a senior diet, but only one-third of those people did so on the advice of a veterinarian.
This disconnect could be potentially harmful, for instance, if a senior diet was chosen for a dog with heart disease based on the assumption that it had less sodium.
Currently, there are no AAFCO guidelines specifically for senior formulas. Given that there is such variation, it’s even more important to consult a veterinarian and to read labels closely to make sure you’re using the right diet for your dog.
News: Guest Posts
Pig ears may be contaminated with Salmonella
Jones Natural Chews is recalling 2,705 boxes of pig ears because they are potentially contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Find lots and labels and more information about risks and symptoms at the Food and Drug Administration’s website.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
L.A. gets its own gourmet treat truck for pets
Living in New York, I’m fortunate to have some of the best food in the country right at my doorstep. But despite the many top ranked restaurants, some of my favorite meals come on wheels. Gourmet food trucks have been popping up in cities all over the country, developing cult-like followings for their affordable delicacies.
Now pets in Los Angeles have their own food truck. PhyDough sells preservative-free dog treats made with organic, human-grade ingredients. They’ve also partnered with the Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwich Truck for humans to make soy or yogurt-based ice cream for the pups.
PhyDough was founded by Patrick Guilfoyle, a self-proclaimed foodie who owns Double Dog Dare Ya, a boutique kennel in Burbank, Calif. Patrick’s five dogs, who serve as official taste testers, are particularly enthusiastic about his latest business venture.
What’s cool is PhyDough isn’t just a convenient option for buying healthy treats. The truck has become a place where dog lovers meet up and their pups socialize. Hopefully, this venture will catch up in other cities around the country!
News: Guest Posts
FDA webinar to cover investigation, harmful effects
In 2007, thousands of dogs and cats were made ill and even killed by melamine contamination in imported pet food and treats. Questions, anger and grief still linger. On Tuesday, Food and Drug Administration scientist Renate Reimschuessel will detail the FDA’s investigation into the crisis and the contaminant’s harmful effects. During the half-hour limited-audience webinar, Reimschuessel will also respond to listeners’ questions.Details: Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. EST—complete details at the link above. (Note: There are a limited number of spots available but materials from the webinar will be made available on the FDA's website.)
Copyright © 1997-2016 The Bark, Inc. Dog Is My Co-Pilot® is a registered trademark of The Bark, Inc