What happens if my dog gets too much vitamins or minerals? Both vitamin and minerals have certain levels that are required for optimal health and either too much, or too little, generally can lead to health problems. For some nutrients the range where optimal health can be maintained is quite wide and the safety factor is quite high. Examples include Vitamin E, manganese and the B-vitamins. In contrast other nutrients have a relatively narrow range and careful attention must be paid to these nutrient to ensure the pet gets enough for proper health, but not so much that signs of nutrient excess develop. Examples here include zinc, selenium and copper.
Is dry food better than canned food?
Dogs can thrive on any diet, dry, canned or semi-moist as long as it is complete and balanced. Dry diets are generally less expensive to feed than canned diets and in addition, the crunchy texture of dry diets will help keep your pets' teeth clean. However even pets fed dry diets still need periodic cleaning and can benefit from the many treats and toys, which help clean teeth.
My dog really likes canned foods.
Will he be harmed if I only feed him canned food?
Your dog will do fine on only canned food as long as it is complete and balanced. If you feed your dog only canned food you should probably make sure you buy extra rawhides or teeth cleaning chew toys as well as take your pet to get it's teeth brushed regularly.
My veterinarian recommended feeding my dog a premium food. Why is that food better?
Premium foods typically contain higher quality ingredients than standard foods. Because higher quality ingredients are used (more real meat) the foods are more nutrient-dense, which means they contain higher percentages of protein and fat so your pet eats less to obtain the same nutrition. In addition, premium foods tend to contain natural additives (natural preservatives like Vitamin E) and avoid the use of artificial colors and flavors. Many perceive premium foods to be healthier due to the use of natural additives. Premium foods also feature high quality carbohydrate sources like rice, one of the most digestible grains.
Due to the nutrient density and quality of ingredients, the average premium food is more digestible than the average standard food. This results in less backyard clean up for you. Since the ingredients are of higher quality, the cost of premium foods tends to be higher on a per pound basis. However the fact that they are of higher nutrient density and digestibility means the amount of food fed is less, so while overall feeding costs are higher it's not as much as you may think.
Some people leave food out all day long for their dog. Is that good? Won't your dog eat too much?
Dry pet food can be left out all day as long as your dog does not overeat and gain excessive weight. Even when given food all day, most dogs will generally only eat once or twice a day. However, if your pet gains too much weight, it's a good idea to feed your dog using discrete meals once or twice a day.
I am afraid to change my dog's food? Will he get sick?
Once your dog adjusts to a particular food, the dog's system, including the bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal, establish a careful balance. Because different foods contain different ingredients and nutrients, too quick a change can upset his system. For this reason a gradual change is recommended. Mix the old food with the new food as shown below and after ten days your pet will be eating his new diet. Don't be afraid to change ,simply do it slowly.
New Food Old Food
Days 1-3 25% 75%
Days 4-6 50% 50%
Days 7-9 75% 25%
Day 10 100%
My dog won't eat his food anymore? Why?
There are lots of reasons a dog might not eat his food and many dogs eat only sporadically, so your dog not eating for one day is usually not cause for concern. If your dog does not eat two days in a row it's generally a good idea to take him to your veterinarian and make sure he is okay. Dogs like consistency, so sometimes feeding him in a new place, at a different time or in a new bowl may cause him to not eat. Occasionally a food may not be stored properly or might be too old and the fats have started to go rancid, which can lead to feed refusal. Sometimes when the weather is too hot your dog might not want to eat. Lastly, think if your pet may have had too many treats or may have gotten into the pantry or garbage and so may already have eaten his daily meal.
Are there things I shouldn't feed my dog?
Yes. Leading the list is chocolate. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic. Never feed chocolate or food containing it to your pet. Also, never feed an onion to your pet as large amounts can destroy your pets red blood cells causing anemia. While many people give their dogs raw meat, fish or poultry products these meats contain bacteria or possibly parasites, which are killed in the cooking process. For this reason raw meats are also not recommended. Softer bones such as those from pork or poultry should not be fed as they can splinter and puncture the intestines. Lastly, some people add fat to a dogs diet for a shiny coat. Sudden introduction of large amounts of fats can cause pancreatitis, so this should be avoided. One would be better off to switch to a high quality diet.
Is it okay to give my dog treats? He really likes them.
There are a large number of high quality treats available for your dog. The first thing to remember when using treats is the 10% rule. Never let treats comprise more than 10% of your dogs diet. Most commercial pet foods contain enough nutrients that feeding up to 10% treats won't upset an otherwise balanced diet. Second, just like changing diets too fast can upset a pet digestive system, so can a large amount of treats all at once. Lastly, remember that treats contain calories so make sure to cut back on your pet's regular food if you feed treats every day.
Are some treats better for dogs than others?
Generally speaking, treats can be divided into two categories, dry and semi-moist. Semi-moist treats contain 20-30% water, real meat or chicken and are highly palatable, making them valuable training treats. Dry treats and biscuits are usually not as palatable as semi-moist treats, but are less expensive and often can be used to help clean teeth.
How long will dog food keep? How can I tell if the food is still good?
Most pet food has a relatively long shelf life and most manufacturers are code dating their products in a manner that is consumer friendly. Usually this results in a statement on the package that says "Use before xxxx", where "xxxx" represents the last date the product should be used. As a rule of thumb, dry food is generally good up to one year from date of manufacture, while can foods are good for two years.
After that, certain components of the diet start to break down resulting in a product that smells bad, is unpalatable to your dog and which is not nutritious. While a can food is good for two years when unopened, once it's opened it should not be allowed to sit out for more than a couple hours because bacteria will quickly grow on moist pet food. Dry food can be left out all day as long as it stays dry and is protected from crawling insects.
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Obinna Heche: Los Angeles- California
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