Almost all of us have made New Year’s resolutions and I bet many of those resolutions include cutting out the junk food and making healthy eating a priority. But what about our four-legged friends? We love our dogs like family and treat them like our babies but are we really making sure that their diet is a healthy and beneficial one? I met with Kathrine R., a Registered Veterinary Technologist and graduate from the University of Guelph, Ridgetown program, about how we can extend that New Year’s resolution to include, not only our human family, but our furry family members as well.
Understanding the Dangers of People Food
Did you know that feeding a dog a 1 oz cube of cheese is equivalent to us eating one and a half cheeseburgers in terms of calories?! It is important to understand the effects the foods your dog is snacking on under the table, stealing from the counter or being served in their food bowl. Check out this amazing chart by Hill’s Science Diet to put it all into perspective.
Do you know which human foods are not only unhealthy for dogs but poisonous and could lead to lengthy and expensive vet stays? Well, there’s an app for that! The free APCC (Animal Poison Control Centre) Mobile App by the ASPCA “helps owners quickly and accurately identify and understand common household hazards, toxic and non-toxic plants, potentially harmful medications, as well as warm or cold weather hazards. It also provides crucial information about the severity of the problem and critical next steps.” Something very handy, especially if your vet does not offer after-hours support. It is available for both Android and Apple devices.
Veterinarian Brand vs. Walmart Brand
Expensive does not always mean better, and price does not always indicate level of quality, but in the case of Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet and Wellness, they are worth every penny. Their formulas are based on top-tier research and incredibly high safety and quality standards. There is a reason that most vets recommend these and similar brands! The difference is that these contain nutrient-rich, high-quality ingredients like chicken, whole grains, and multivitamins with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. You also won’t find chicken by-product meal in these either.
Just as with us, there are dangers with dogs eating a continuous fat filled, calorie laden diet. Some of the lower priced foods such as Caesars or Ol’ Roy is similar nutrition quality as us surviving off of Big Macs, chips and Chocolate bars. We would become more prone to obesity, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues and cancer. This is true for dogs as well. I know I sure can’t cut out McDonald’s from my life completely but I make it a special treat and not my main source of food.
If the high-priced, veterinarian recommended dog foods are out of the budget what about making your own dog food at home or purchasing raw meats from the butcher? There are some people-foods that are great options for your dog such as plain rice, unseasoned cooked boneless chicken breast or you can also visit a butcher and buy raw meats as well. Before you embark along either the cooked or raw paths, make sure you consult with your vet and do a little reading. A book to check out is called Complete & Balanced, 101 Healthy Home-made Meals for Dogs by Hilary Watson, B.Sc.
The Hard Truth About Soft Dog Food
I don’t know what it is, but many pets that I know LOVE soft food! My cats go crazy for that stuff! Dogs too! But even if you are feeding them top quality soft food there is a chance you are heading on a one way street to big vet dental bills! As hard food is chewed it removes plaque buildup on the teeth. So if your pet refuses the hard food make sure you are doing regular brushing to avoid future dental bills.
How Much and How Often
It is a whole lot easier to do ‘free-feeding’ with your dog than portion controlled ‘meal-feeding’ but letting your dog determine how much can lead to weight gain. It is usually recommended to start with meal feedings twice a day (breakfast and dinner). How much at each serving depends on the age, activity level and size of your dog. Most dog food bags will provide a chart specific to their ingredient formula.
According to Amanda… the verdict is:
Deciding what is best for your family is hard. There are always pros and cons to sift through. We made the decision to feed our pets with Hill’s Science Diet in the hopes to avoid expensive future vet bills and hopefully give them the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. With that said, my childhood cat ate only Whiskas cat food for its whole life and lived 18 years with very little health complications. I am sure that one thing we can all agree on no matter if you make your own food, feed them raw, or buy from the store, those little animals are loved like family!
Chart courtesy of Hill’s Science Diet: http://www.hillspet.com/weight-management/human-food-translator.html
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