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What Are Trace Minerals and Does Your Homemade Dog Food Have Enough?

How would you react if you veterinarian told you your dog’s illness was caused by a lack of the tiniest amount of a certain mineral? You would be devastated. Trace minerals are essential in small quantities in the body. Because requirements are so small for these minerals, they are often called micronutrients. But although they are micro, they are mighty and necessary for proper body function. Trace mineral deficiency is not uncommon in homemade dog food.

  Foods vary tremendously in the amounts of trace minerals they contain. Foods are often described as “rich in zinc or iron, etc.” but that does not mean they are adequate.

  Copper  Copper’s has many important body functions.

  • It aids the intestinal absorption of iron from the diet
  • It helps red blood cells use iron to form hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is necessary to carry oxygen to all of the body’s cells.
  • It is also important for blood coagulation to prevent blood loss
  • It is important in the function of the immune system to fight infection
  • Cooper is necessary for the structural strength of arteries, bones and the heart.
  • All cells need copper in order to burn fat for energy
  • Brain and nerves cells cannot function effectively without copper.
  • Copper is also important for the production of hormones
  • Is necessary for glucose and cholesterol metabolism
  • Helps regulate blood pressure
  • It is necessary for the production of melanin and normal fur color

Copper deficiencies can lead to changes in fur color, weakness, decreased activity, anemia, prolonged bleeding, decreased immune and nerve function as well as osteoporosis.

Iodine The primary role of iodine in the body is for the production of thyroid hormones.

  • Thyroid hormone regulates the body’s metabolism
  • Thyroid hormone is also important for proper bone and brain development of the fetus during pregnancy.

Deficiencies in iodine lead to decreased metabolism, weight gain, hair loss, infertility and various neurological problems. In young animals deficiency can stunt their bone and neurological growth.

Iron Iron is a key mineral for the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body.

  • It is necessary for myoglobin, which aids oxygen supply to muscle, especially during rigorous exercise or temporary lack of oxygen.
  • It is necessary in many enzymatic reactions, especially those associated with the use of fat for energy.

Iron deficiency generally results in poor growth in puppies, weakness, exercise intolerance and ultimately, anemia.

Manganese Manganese plays a key role in many cellular chemical reactions that are related to:

  • Normal bone development
  • Proper nerve function
  • Normal reproduction

Dietary deficiencies of manganese can result in abnormal bone growth causing shortening or bowing of the leg bones, lameness and swollen or enlarged joint. Delayed heat cycles, poor conception, increased abortion rates, stillbirths and low birth rates are also associated with manganese deficiency.  

Selenium  Selenium is has important antioxidant functions.

  • Selenium protects the interior of cells from the oxidative damage of normal metabolism
  • It is also important in the regulation of thyroid hormone function
  • Selenium’s antioxidant role is important for proper function of the immune system
  • Selenium is thought to be protective against the development of cancer

  Puppies with selenium deficiency may show signs of decreased appetite, depression, difficulty breathing and coma. These symptoms result from degeneration of muscles, especially the heart and kidney calcification.  

Zinc Like copper, zinc has many important body functions. It is necessary for 200 chemical reactions in cells that are important for:

  • Cell reproduction
  • Carbohydrate and protein metabolism
  • Proper skin function and wound healing
  • Important in the structure and function of cell membranes
  • Is necessary to stabilize the structure of DNA and RNA

Zinc deficiency results in poor growth in puppies, hair loss, crusting, scaling and often exuberant growth of the skin around the face, body pressure points and food pads.

Commercial dog food makers are required to provide adequate amounts of trace minerals in their foods. Most homemade dog food recipes are lacking in micronutrients. Dog owners wrongly assume that a variety of meats and carbohydrates will meet their dog’s needs.   That is not the case. Foods vary tremendously in the amounts of trace minerals they contain. Foods are often described as “rich in zinc or iron, etc.” but that does not mean they are adequate. The word “rich” can refer to a very small amount that still may be inadequate for the daily requirements of the dog. Make sure your homemade dog food is properly supplemented with these essential micronutrients. Your recipe source should be able to readily provide that information. If not, seek another source.

~Dr Ken Tudor

The Dog Dietitian

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

How Much Dog Food Does Your Dog Need During the Summer?

Do you feed your dog the same amount of dog food every day no matter what season it is? Did you know that seasonal changes impact your dog and make feeding changes necessary, even in the summer? Where you live may be an important factor in the way you need to feed your dog.

 Do the Needs of Dogs Change in Warmer Weather?

 

Effect of Summer Temperature on the Diet

Many parts of the north and northeastern United States enjoy moderate temperatures even in the hot months of July and August. Dogs are able to play more vigorously when temperatures are mild. That means they are burning more calories than normal and need additional portions added to their daily meals.

Dogs that live in areas that are extremely hot or humid during the summer may not exercise nearly as much as in the spring and fall. Exercise may be limited to the early morning and late evening and reduce overall calorie expenditure. Dogs in these climates need less food to compensate for the decreased activity levels.

Dogs with unlimited access to water for swimming can be active all summer regardless of the temperature. Swimming burns a lot of calories so summer swimmers may need 25-30% more calories during this time of year.

 

How to Adjust the Amount of Dog Food

So how does a dog owner know when and how much to adjust their dog’s diet? The Body Condition Score or BCS is an easy way to determine if more or fewer calories should be fed. A fit dog has a BCS of 4-out-of-9 or 4/9 with a midriff that has a distinct hour glass shape when looking at the dog from the top. If a dog is being over fed the hour glass tends to disappear within weeks. It can become exaggerated in the same period for dogs that are underfed for their level of exercise. These dogs are too thin with a BCS of 3/9.

 

How Much to Feed

I am only talking about fit dogs here. Any dog with a BCS of 6 or greater needs a weight loss program and a reduction in food no matter what season it is until it scores a 4-5/9 BCS.

For the fit dogs with a changing BCS during the summer, an adjustment of 10% more or less food per week until the BCS returns to 4-5/9. For example, if you feed your dog 2 cups of dry food daily and she is losing weight increase her to 2.2 cups or 2 ¼ cups of food per day for 1 week. If she is still too thin after 1 week and another ¼ cup per day each week until the BCS returns to normal. Follow the same formula for subtracting amounts of food for animals with an increasing BCS during the summer.

These are only starting guidelines and you may have to modify them depending on your dog’s metabolism and the calorie density of your dog’s food. Don’t be too conservative in your changes, especially if your dog needs food reductions. Weight gain is always easier and faster than weight loss.

 

~Dr Ken Tudor

The Dog Dietitian

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

Nutrigenomics: The New Frontier in Homemade Dog Food

Dogs do not need specific foods in their diet. They need specific nutrients in foods to promote better health. We now know that certain chemicals in certain foods turn off or turn on certain genes in cell DNA. The regulation of these genes can have beneficial or detrimental effects on the body. Nutrogenomics is a new field of study of this impact of chemicals in food and the genetic regulation of body cells. This is exciting. As we learn more about nutrigenomics, the ancient words of Hippocrates are even more prophetic when he said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  We will be able to make ourselves and our dogs healthier by including ingredients that contain chemicals that turn on “good genes.” This is particularly important for those who feed homemade dog food and have the flexibility to add ingredients as more information becomes available.

 Nutrogenomics is a new field of study of this impact of chemicals in food and the genetic regulation of body cells.

What is Nutrogenomics?

We now know the entire canine genetic code. We also have technological advances that allow us to look at the expression of the canine genes to stimuli in real, nanosecond time. This means we can actually measure the effects of chemicals on the DNA of the cell. Neutrogenomics looks at these gene expression changes as a result of chemicals in foods. This information has verified some long standing beliefs in the benefits from certain foods and unmasked the failure of purported beliefs about other foods.

 

Dog Food Example of Nutrigenomics

Recently a well-known commercial producer of veterinary weight loss diets introduced a new product. The company presented its results at the latest Academy of Veterinary Internal Medicine Symposium that I recently attended in Nashville, Tennessee. They claim more fat loss and less muscle loss during weight loss using their diet. Utilizing nurtigenomic analysis, their compelling results suggested that specific amounts of tomato pumice, coconut oil, and the amino acids L-lysine, L-carnitine and L-leucine triggered this favorable genetic change during a calorie restricted diet. Of course this data needs more long term verification, but the power of this new science, nutrigenomics, is great stuff.

 

Nutrogenomics and Homemade Dog Food

At this point in time, most nutrigenomic information is proprietary and patented. The company above has made certain that their formula is protected. But this information will eventually become more readily available. As it does, Hearthstone Homemade will incorporate these ingredients, in appropriate amounts, in our recipes and supplements so the power of nutrigenomics is available for your dog’s nutrition and greater health.

We will be able to make ourselves and our dogs healthier by including ingredients that contain chemicals that turn on “good genes.” This is particularly important for those who feed homemade dog food and have the flexibility to add ingredients as more information becomes available.

We will be able to make ourselves and our dogs healthier by including ingredients that contain chemicals that turn on “good genes.” This is particularly important for those who feed homemade dog food and have the flexibility to add ingredients as more information becomes available.

~Dr Ken Tudor

The Dog Dietitian

 

 Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

Hypoallergenic Dog Foods: More Research, More Bad News

There are days in veterinary practice when it feels like nearly all of the appointments are for itchy dogs. And I am sure many of you have booked vet appointments for one or more of your itchy, allergic dogs. Why are so many dogs allergic? The truth is we don’t know. Is it their diet? In some, but not most cases, it is the diet. What is the best dog food for itchy, allergic dogs? Research suggests that the answer is not commercial hypoallergenic dog food. Why?

 Why are so many dogs allergic?

Over-the Counter Hypoallergenic Diets: Not What They Seem

During my latest research I found a study that was conducted on four brands of over-the-counter venison based dry dog food. Venison is considered a novel protein and is used extensively for the diagnosis or treatment of food allergies. Using a sensitive testing method, the researchers discovered that these foods also contained protein from soy, poultry and beef. These protein sources are known to be common food allergens for dogs. Sadly, these proteins sources were not included in the ingredient list. Unsuspecting owners that purchased these foods for their allergic dogs would be very disappointed with the results.

 

Veterinary Formula Hypoallergenic Diets: Not Any Better

In a recent blog, I detailed a study that revealed that nine out of eleven veterinary hypoallergenic diets were contaminated with protein from sources not listed on the food label. The inclusion of more than a single source of protein means the diet is not truly hypoallergenic. These more expensive diets are not a better guarantee of a truly hypoallergenic dog food.

 

Homemade Hypoallergenic Dog Food: The Reliable Choice

The best way to test or treat a dog suspected to have food allergies is homemade dog food. That was the conclusion of the researchers in the veterinary diet study. They felt homemade diets offered a more controlled, limited ingredient alternative. You can choose a single, novel (not commonly used in commercial dog foods) protein source like bison, duck, goat, ostrich, pork, rabbit, tuna or salmon. Quinoa, potato, sweet potato and even rice are considered by dermatologists as hypoallergenic carbohydrate alternatives. Add the necessary essential oils with a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement and Voila, a truly hypoallergenic homemade dog food diet with only 4 ingredients. Fish oil can even be added to the diet. The DHA and EPA omega-3’s in fish oil help relieve the itchiness by reducing the inflammation created with the allergic condition.

 

~Dr Ken Tudor

The Dog Dietitian

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

4 Reasons Why Socialization is Healthy for Dogs

When dog owners consider their dog’s health they generally think of nutrition, vaccinations and parasite control. Few owners would flash on behavior and socialization as important for health. In fact, proper socialization is a key element to promoting health and wellness in dogs.

 Socialization is important for dog health

  1. Fear and Unhealthy Hormones

Poorly socialized dogs live in a state of fear of unusual circumstances. Their response is either extremely submissive or overly aggressive. Either condition signals various glands of the body to produce “fight or flight” hormones. Adrenaline hormones increase blood pressure, heart and respiration rate in anticipation of a fight or an attempt to escape. Corticosteroid hormones are released to increase awareness and quicken response for action. Unfortunately, these same hormones also increase blood pressure, decrease blood flow to the kidneys and intestines, promote muscle breakdown and suppress the immune system. It is these consequences that lead to the stress related conditions in poorly socialized dogs that are frequently engaged in social interactions, like showing, grooming, day care or boarding.

 

  1. Incomplete Veterinary Examinations

Next to a thorough history provided by a dog owner, veterinarians rely on a complete physical examination to evaluate a dog’s health or determine the extent of an illness. Poorly socialized dogs that respond to fear by aggression make a complete physical exam impossible. Even the simple solution of a muzzle to prevent biting prevents a veterinarian from using gum tissue to assess dental health, red blood cell production, blood oxygen content and an estimation of hydration. Struggling animals also make it difficult to objectively evaluate the heart and lungs. Palpation of joints, muscles and abdominal organs are very difficult in these dogs. And even worse, fear sensitizes the heart to potential life threating heart arrhythmias if sedation or anesthesia is needed for a more complete physical examination. This risk cannot be determined in these animals prior to drug administration. Professionally, I have been grief stricken by fearful animals that I had to sedate that died as a result of a sensitized heart. And what if these dog’s need hospitalization? How on earth is the staff going to accurately monitor and maintain IV catheter care and administer appropriate medical therapy? It is virtually impossible to provide these animals with proper medical care.

 

  1.  Limited Exercise

Owners of poorly socialized dogs are often reluctant to provide their dogs with exercise. This is especially true for large dogs that are strong and could get away from their owners to engage another dog. Such “altercations” could actually end up costing owners of poorly socialized dogs large veterinary bills from the owners of “victim” dogs. By limiting walks, runs and fetching, poorly socialized dogs are at increased risk of health conditions associated with being overweight or obese.

 

  1. Inadequate Grooming

Many breeds of dogs require frequent and detailed grooming to maintain proper skin and fur health. This requires the dog to maintain an even composure for a period of time so the groomer can provide the proper “cut.” Poorly socialized dogs make such a procedure impossible. Either drastic restraint is necessary that might injure the dog or the groomer is faced with an inadequate cut and the threat of their own bodily harm. Neither is an outcome acceptable to most dog owners. The use of veterinary prescribed tranquilizer in these cases is not an option. The selection of drugs that can be prescribed for these situations has the potential for a “paradoxical effect.” This means the drug can actually make the dogs more aggressive and dangerous. This poses a legal responsibility for the prescribing veterinarian. For this reason, I will not dispense tranquilizers for grooming to owners of poorly socialized dogs.

 

The healthy solution is to socialize your dog early. The age window for socialization is 3-12 weeks of age. Puppies need to be exposed to people, other puppies and dogs, social situations and car rides early and often. A prudent recommendation suggests 7 new social situations each week until 12-16 weeks of age. Puppy obedience or play classes should be started immediately. The old veterinary notion of waiting until the puppy has had all of its vaccinations before socialization is completely false. Vaccines are complete at 16 weeks and this is too late for proper socialization. Studies have shown that puppies with one set a vaccines are at no greater risk for parvovirus than fully vaccinated puppies in socialization settings. Proper socialization is a key element to your dog’s health.

 

~Dr Ken Tudor

The Dog Dietitian

 Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

 

 

Grass-Fed Meat: Maybe Not a Sustainable Choice for Homemade Dog Food

Many dog owners prefer homemade dog food so they can use grass-fed meats in the diet. They feel that grass-feeding is a more natural way to feed livestock and that the meat is healthier. And indeed the meat tends to be leaner. But because it is leaner, it takes more of it to meet total US meat demand. This actually makes grass-fed livestock a less environmentally sustainable method than the present feedlot method. The following information is from work done by Dr. Judith L. Capper, if all US demand for beef was met by grass-feeding cattle.

 Feeding Homemade Dog Food made with Grass-Fed Beef may have unintended consequences

  1. Grass-Feeding Requires Larger Numbers of Livestock

According to Dr. Capper’s research grass-fed beef needs to be fed over 22 months longer and still weighs about 100-pounds less at slaughter than conventionally raised cattle. That means an additional 50.2 million head of cattle would have to be added each year to meet the present demand for beef. Adding the extra cattle has environmental consequences.

 

  1. Grass-Feeding Increases Land Use

The additional 50 million head of cattle would require an additional 131,000,000 acres of grazing land. This is the equivalent acreage of 75% of the state of Texas. But most of the open land in the US that could be used for grazing is open for a reason. It lacks what all grazing land needs, enough water to grow grass all year long.

 

  1. Grass-Feeding Cattle Increases Water Use

The addition of the necessary grazing land would require 468 billion extra gallons of water per year. This is the same amount of water used by over 53 million U.S. households. Water scarcity is thought to be the next major global problem in the not too distant future.

 

  1. Grass-Feeding Increases Greenhouse Gases

Because the grass-fed beef live almost 2 years longer before slaughter than feedlot cattle, they emit more lifetime greenhouse gases. That would add 134,500,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the planet each year. That is the equivalent of adding 26,000,000 cars to the road annually.

 

Feeding grass-fed meat certainly sounds like a better alternative. But like everything in life, there are trade-offs. A mass movement for grass-fed meats could have serious consequences for the planet and in fact be an unsustainable alternative for homemade dog food and our own diet. This article is not intended to discourage choosing grass-fed meats for homemade dog food. It is also not meant as a definitive argument against grass-fed meat. Those of us that choose to feed homemade dog food do so because we are concerned individuals. We are concerned about the health of our dogs and quality of their life. This article demonstrates that our concerns must also be more global. Nutrition decisions we make for ourselves and our dogs may impact more than just our lives.

 

~Dr Ken Tudor

The Dog Dietitian

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

Dog Diseases That Are Managed Better with Homemade Dog Food

There are many commercial therapeutic diets available for various individual medical conditions in dogs. There are diets for heart, kidney, liver, pancreas allergic and intestinal diseases. But what if a dog has multiple conditions and one may be incompatible with the ingredients in the commercial foods? These dogs are more satisfactorily managed with homemade dog food diets.

 Some dog medical conditions are best treated with homemade dog food

Kidney Disease and Food Allergies

Dogs with kidney disease and food food allergies need a low protein diet made with a protein that does not cause a severe skin reaction. But commercial diets for kidney disease are all made with common proteins, chicken, beef, etc., that are not hypoallergenic. The carbohydrate sources, generally grains, in these diets also contain proteins that are incompatible with food allergic dogs. A homemade diet can use small amounts of protein from novel, hypoallergenic protein sources like bison, duck, fish, or lamb. Potato, sweet potato and quinoa are hypoallergenic carbohydrate sources never used in commercial kidney diets.

 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Fat Malabsorption

Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs is caused by the dog’s own immune cells attacking the lining of the intestine and sometimes the stomach. This causes severe swelling of the intestinal and stomach linings that interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food and causes diarrhea and/or vomiting. Often the swelling is so disruptive that it can cause difficulty with fat absorption, a condition called lymphangectasia. This condition can also occur separately in patients with milder forms of IBD. The dietary management is choosing a novel protein to reduce the IBD reaction, much like allergies. However the diet must also be very low fat to manage the lymphangectasia. Few proteins in commercial therapeutic diets meet those standards. With a homemade diet you can use cod, goat and beans to satisfy both conditions.

 

Homemade Dog Food Tastes Better

Many dogs with multiple or single medical conditions simply do not like the taste of commercial therapeutic diets. Refusal to eat the diets results in inadequate nutrition. This can lead to weight loss and failure to thrive. Homemade diets tailored for the disease condition can provide a tastier alternative.

The more you research homemade, the more sense it makes, in wellness as well as during illness. But make sure to choose sensible homemade and sources that guarantee a complete and balanced approach.

 

~Dr Ken Tudor

THE DOG DIETITIAN

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

Memorial Day: Remembering the Pets That Enriched Our Lives

This Memorial Day I will not only think of our fallen heros but also others who have filled my life. I will take time to think about my dad and all of the life skills he showed me. I will remember warm, summer nights watching episodes of “Gunsmoke” with my grandparents. I will remember my father-in-law’s fantastic BBQ hamburgers. But I will also remember those pets that have enriched our lives over the last 44 years since our marriage in 1969.

Pets that have enriched our lives

Hamelot, the hamster, was our first fur child. It was a fast two years (the average lifespan). Next was Mohandis K. or Mo, for short. He was the highest energy miniature poodle around. He would fetch balls for hours, non-stop. After his pelvis was fractured by a car, fetching wasn’t quite the same but he still had his zest. Unfortunately, he was one of the first victims of parvovirus before the vaccine was available.

Damon, the too friendly Oakland Petting Zoo German Shepard watch dog, joined us when the zoo was sold. The zoo was broken into several times under his watch. Like Mo he loved to fetch and would bring a volley ball to the burglars so they could play with him as they looted the office trailer. Rusty, the red Dobie, was rescued off the Oakland streets and we had him only a short time before we found him a good home. About that time, Gata, our first cat wandered into our lives. I was very allergic to cats but living with this little Siamese was like getting allergy shots. I am still allergic to cats but not as severely as before. She was an early victim of feline leukemia.

I brought Isis, the ditzy black lab, home after she showed up on the loading dock of central services at the vet school, where I worked during the summer break from school. Damon tolerated her but her idea of fetch was to interfere with his quest for the Frisbee. I don’t think she ever returned one Frisbee. Damon loved to run, even near the end when his hip dysplasia became too severe that he could no longer walk. Isis spent her last years on a farm near Modesto. She never got smarter. My veterinary friend who provided her with a large farm that fit her energy level when I re-located for work said she had a habit of eating green walnut skins, which are poisonous. They didn’t seem to affect her.

Archie, or Archibald Magilicutty, was brought into my cat hospital with a fractured leg. He was a sweet stray being fed by four different neighborhood households. I fixed his leg and he became the hospital cat. He greeted everybody and enjoyed their laps. At night, alone in the hospital, he also enjoyed opening bags of cat food and helping himself. He grew to a ripe 30lbs. and eventually became a happy, fat diabetic. Unfortunately, intestinal cancer got the best of him. I buried him under a fern in our backyard that has become huge, just like Archie. In fact, I call the fern, Archie. Shadow our other cat that came with our rental house in Alta Loma was very much a loner. She hated Archie so much she wanted to be outside away from him. As a result, we lost her to coyotes.

And I will remember the other rescued kitties in our lives, Matilda, Sylvester and CK (short for Colin’s Kitty because he was found outside a hardware store when my son, Colin, and I were shopping). And who can forget Buddy, the clueless Yorkie found on a busy intersection in Alta Loma who had severe separation anxiety. Some the damage to the house has yet to be repaired. He lived to a ripe old age before we put him to sleep in a family ceremony in the backyard. He is buried near “Pockets”, Colin’s pet rat. I hope you also take time to honor the pets that have enriched your lives and hug and kiss or be kissed by the ones you still have.

“OK, Roxy, enough kisses today.”

~Dr Ken Tudor

THE DOG DIETITIAN

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

4 Reasons You Should Avoid Dog Treats

We all like to spoil our fur babies. Treats provide a tasty way to show our dogs how much they are loved. And we get endless joy out of watching them preform for their treats. But we may be killing our beloved pets with kindness.

 Dog Treats Can Be Harmful

  1. Possible Contamination of Dog Treats

Since 2007 the FDA has been investigating the increase in illness and death in dogs and cats related to jerky pet treats. To date illness in 5,600 dogs and 24 cats have been associated with eating the treats that were made in China. 1,000 dogs have reportedly died as a result of their illness. 60% of the pets suffered gastrointestinal and liver problems and 30% had kidney and urinary problems. Another 10% had neurological problems like seizures and tremors or skin problems like hives and rashes.

The FDA has been unable to identify the toxin or toxins causing the problems. Without proof of cause, the jerky treats from Chinese sources are again for sale in the US.

Domestic treats are not without fault. In the last year, the FDA has posted recalls and alerts for 7 brands of treats that contained a risk of salmonella.

 

  1. Dog Treats Have Too Many Calories

Treat makers are not required to disclose the calorie content on the label. Often it is not even available on their websites. But don’t let their small size deceive you. Most treats are loaded with calories, especially dental treats. Feeding these high calorie treats is a major reason why 60% of pets are overweight.

One brand of chew treats offered by a leading dog food company has treats that vary from 277calories for small dog treats to700 calories for larger dog treats. Each treat is over half or equal to the dogs total daily calorie requirement!

Another company has a dental dog treat that contains 1050 calories for dogs weighing over 55 pounds. A 55 pound dog only needs about 1050 calories for the whole day. Combined with a regular diet this is twice the necessary calories per day. And who stops at one treat? No wonder there is a pet obesity problem.

 

  1. Dog Treats May Cause Malnutrition

Treats are not balanced nutrition. Some dogs that are fed excessive amounts of treats will eat less of their regular diet. It is their way of “counting their calories.” Unfortunately, if they don’t eat their required daily dog food, they will not consume necessary amounts of essential amino acids and fats, vitamins or minerals. Long term, this can lead to nutrient deficiencies that could be harmful to your dog’s health. This may be a major underdiagnosed cause for unexplained illness in middle and older aged dogs.

 

  1. Dog Treats are Expensive

Compared on a weight basis, treats are much more expensive than pet food. A tiny bag of treats can cost as much as small bag of dry kibble and won’t last nearly as long. Why increase your pet food budget with something that can harm your pet?

 

So what’s the answer?

Set aside some of your dog’s daily kibble just for treats. That way you are showing your love and not adding a single calorie to the diet. If you keep fruits and vegetables around the house, raw veggies are virtually calorie free. Cooked vegetables, air popped popcorn and fresh fruit add minimal calories. An entire can of cooked green beans has only 50 calories and a full cup of popcorn contains only 30 calories. Both are enough treats for many days. An ounce of fruits or melons has only 10-15 calories and is enough for several days.   

~Dr Ken Tudor

THE DOG DIETITIAN

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements

 

How Much Fiber is Good for Dog Food?

Dietary fiber has proven to be very helpful in managing chronic diseases in humans. Dietary fiber lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. It slows intestinal sugar absorption and helps control type 2 diabetes. Fiber also promotes colon health and reduces symptoms in many intestinal and colon diseases.

Studies suggest that large amounts of fiber in the diet can interfere with the intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

 

And indeed fiber is used to help with symptoms of diabetes and various intestinal diseases in dogs. But how much fiber do dogs need? Can they be fed too much fiber? Although we don’t know the exact answer, too much fiber can interfere with normal digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients.

 

Types of Fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber, insoluble and soluble. Fiber is found in most plant sources of food. Soluble fiber attracts water and slows the movement of intestinal contents. It also slows the digestion and absorption of some nutrients like sugar, starch and cholesterol. That is why it aids in the management of human diabetes and heart disease. Insoluble, or indigestible, fiber increases stool volume and speeds material through the intestines.

Most plant-based foods contain both types of fiber, with different foods containing different amounts of each type. Oats, beans, peas, barley and the meat of apples and fruits contain larger quantities of soluble fiber. The skins of fruits and vegetables, whole-wheat, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes contain larger amounts of insoluble fiber.

Together, insoluble and soluble fiber promote intestinal and colon health. Some sources of fiber like beet pulp, cabbage, rice bran and guar gum are prebiotics. They contain sugars that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria that maintain the health of the cells lining the colon.

 

Too Much Fiber

Studies suggest that large amounts of fiber in the diet can interfere with the intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Because it decreases the absorption of cholesterol, a fatty acid, it is also speculated that high fiber diets may interfere with the absorption of other fats. Although current research is minimal, studies in the 1990’s reported reduced activity of pancreatic enzymes with high fiber diets. Pancreatic enzymes are necessary for intestinal protein, fat and carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Decreased function of these enzymes would impair normal intestinal function.

Increased dietary fiber consistently increases stool volume and frequency and indicate that a diet that may be too high in fiber.

 

Dietary Fiber Requirement for Dogs

Although there is no universal “dose” for fiber in the diet, most veterinary nutritionists recommend 2-5% of the dry matter (after moisture has been subtracted) of the diet. Although higher levels of fiber are necessary to control some medical conditions, maximum levels of dietary fiber should be less than 10% with 7% a more preferable maximum. Most commercial dog foods meet these requirements. However, grain-free diets often exceed 10% fiber due to their reliance on beans and other legumes and fiber rich carbohydrates.

 

Dr Ken Tudor

THE DOG DIETITIAN

Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Supplements