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Optimum Nutrition

Dogs’ nutritional and exercise requirements change according to their age and lifestage. Puppies, adults and senior dogs all have different nutritional requirements. Home-prepared diets and raw food diets need to be balanced correctly.  Feeding a commercial ‘complete’ dog food provides all the necessary nutrients in the correct amounts and proportions.  So-called ‘lifestage’ and 'breed specific' diets are available which cater for the differing needs of puppies, large breed or active dogs.

Unless you learn how to read dogs food labels, it can be difficult to make sense of what is written on the packaging. However, it’s important that you do learn how to interpret a label to make sure the food is appropriate for your dog.

The ingredients are listed on dog food labels in descending order of quantity. More expensive foods will have meat or meat by products at the top of the list. Cereals don’t cost as much as meat, so you can expect cheaper foods to have rice, corn or wheat as their number one ingredient.

There is a difference between meat and meat by-products. Meat specifically refers to lean muscle meat such as the type we’d eat ourselves. Meat by-products can include any meat that is left on the carcass after the cuts for human consumption are removed, as well as other body parts including lungs, kidneys, clean intestines, blood, bone and fatty tissues. Meat meal, bone meal, by-products can be any part of the animal, which can include bones, feet, head or anything else.  Meat meal is not whole meat.

Unlike people, dogs use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The higher the fat content, the more energy in a food. This should be taken into account when you are choosing a food for your canine companion. Foods with fat levels of up to 7% are a good option for weight loss. Puppy foods often have up to 16% fat and over 25% protein, to provide enough energy and building blocks for their rapid rate of growth and muscle development. Adult dogs do well on a diet with 12-14% fat and up to 20% protein. Excess fat can however cause pancreatitis. Feeding raw foods which have a variable fat content has been known to contribute to this and other diseases.

Next time you are feeding your dog, take a look at what is written on the bag or the can.