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Dogs + Nutrition

  • This handout discusses the pros and cons of feeding a raw food diet to your dog. Topics included are nutritional imbalances, potential bacterial contamination, the risk of foodborne illnesses involving both you and your pet, and other concerns that may arise from feeding a raw food diet.

  • There are many environmentally friendly ways that owners can care for their pets. Waste disposal can involve biodegradable or compostable bags or careful composting. Cat litter can be transitioned to recycled newspaper or sawdust pellets. Any toys, beds, houses and other accessories can be biodegradable and/or recycled such as cotton or rubber. Cats should be kept indoors to reduce their impact on the ecology of their surrounding environment. A nutritionally adequate diet composed of organic food can be provided.

  • Up to twenty-five of dogs have osteoarthritis. Diet can make a huge impact on the quality of life for dogs with osteoarthritis. Normalizing your pet’s body condition by helping your dog burn fat and preserve or build muscle is an important step in helping improve your pet’s quality of life. Your veterinarian can help you choose the correct nutrient profile for your dog.

  • When the digestive tract is upset, vomiting and diarrhea may result. Since the causes of these symptoms are varied, it’s best to consult a veterinarian. Often, a bland diet is recommended to rest the digestive tract and to decrease vomiting and diarrhea. Bland diets consist of a single easily digestible protein source and a simple carbohydrate. Pet owners may prepare bland diets at home or choose one of the many commercially available diets.

  • Pet owners may not realize that caffeine can be harmful to their pets. They also may not know that many foods and drinks in their cupboards contain caffeine. This particular chemical can be toxic for both cats and dogs.

  • Critical care patients in the hospital can often become malnourished which can delay healing and recovery. Wound healing and tissue repair are intimately interrelated with nutrition. In a hospitalized critical care patient receiving inadequate nutrition, normal cellular metabolic activities are disrupted which can lead to problems with medications; either with inadequate drug activity, or creating a relative overdose if drug elimination is slowed. If a dog is not eating well on their own, one of various types of feeding tubes can be placed to help the dog receive adequate nutrition.

  • Dog food labels can certainly be confusing to interpret. In the United States, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has developed model laws and regulations that states use for animal feeds. In Canada, pet food labeling guidelines are regulated by the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act administered by Industry Canada. The Canadian government's Competition Bureau also has an extensive working group that upholds a voluntary code of conduct for the labeling and advertising of pet food. The most important information when comparing one dog food to another is the guaranteed analysis. Ingredient lists are somewhat useful when evaluating a particular dog food, but it is important to recognize the limitations. Talk to you veterinarian about the ingredient list and nutrient profile to help choose the diet that is right for your dog.

  • Designer diets cover a range of options that target specific canine nutritional needs. While some designer foods include certain ingredients like novel protein sources, others exclude certain ingredients like grains. There is a potential link between heart disease and diet. Determining which type of diet is best for your dog should include a discussion with your veterinarian as there is no documented data that designer diets are any better for the average, healthy dog than are traditional, commercial preparations.

  • Treats are a great way to bond with your pet but can be a major contributor to obesity. Treats should be no more than 5-10% of your dog’s caloric intake as they add calories, and in greater quantities, can create a nutritional imbalance. Excellent treats that are low calorie and satisfying are vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower as well as air-popped popcorn. Many homemade treat recipes can be found on the internet, but be sure that these are not too high in calories or contain inappropriate ingredients for your individual dog. Check the recipe with your veterinarian before having your dog taste test them!

  • This handout discusses the causes and potential treatments for excess gas (flatus or flatulence) in dogs. Factors such as diet, speed of eating, exercise and foods to avoid are highlighted.

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