Bingo's Bounty Vegetables for Dogs

Farm Fresh Goodness for Your Furry Friends

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Jul 2011

Food For Thought

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How much should I feed my dog?


I get asked that question countless times and people are always disappointed when it cannot be answered with a simple figure. An unfortunate side affect of the commercial dog food industry is that people no longer look at their dog as an individual when it comes to food. They simply take the recommended amount that is listed on the side of their bag of dog food and think that is good enough. Yet while your dog’s weight, which is what these amounts are based on, are an important point of figuring out what your dog needs, it is only one of several aspects that must also be taken into consideration.

Dog’s, just like humans, are individuals and each one can be vastly different from the other. Own several of the same breed of dog, even those of the same bloodlines, and you will often see just how striking these differences can be. Yet the dog food companies want you to use only weight as a means of gauging how much to feed. This is a great disservice to our dogs. Whether you feed kibble, canned, home cooked diet, raw, or a combination of any of them, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration when determining the appropriate portion size of your dog’s meals.

Guidelines vs Exact Amount


It is important to remember that the amount listed on a commercial product or for a home cooked diet is a guideline not an exact amount that you must rigorously stick to. These amounts should always be used as a starting point. Never be afraid to make adjustments to the portion size based on how your dog is doing.

Monitor Their Weight


No matter how much you wish for it, there will never be a time when you can feed your dog the exact same amount 365 days a year. Their caloric needs change, sometimes from week to week, other times from season to season. Know your dog, learn how to check their weight (see 4/23/11 blog) and do so at least once a week.

Quality vs Quantity


The quality of the food you feed your dog is extremely important when determining portion amounts. One of the reason high priced dog food is actually cheaper to feed than low priced is that you often have to feed less of it in order to obtain the correct amount of calories and usable energy. There are some commercial dog foods out there that you could feed your dog the entire bag every day and they would still loose weight - their quality is that poor. You will find that when feeding a home cooked diet, your dog will actually consume less food than if you fed them kibble. If you are feeding the correct amount to maintain your dog’s weight, but they still seem to be acting hungry, vegetables, such as Bingo’s Bounty, are a great addition to any diet as they provide nutrients and volume to the meal without adding excessive calories.

Age


It is common knowledge that puppies need to eat more than adult dogs because they are growing, but again a generalization of this principle can be dangerous, especially when it comes to large breed puppies. People often think that large breed puppies need to consume even more than a normal puppy, but this can lead to bone and joint problems caused by fast growth. You want your puppy to grow at a slow, steady rate, so monitor his weight more frequently to make sure he is in the optimum range. You want him to be satisfied at meal times, but neither stuffed nor starving. The quality over quantity aspect applies here as well. Puppies need more fat and protein, and with a home cooked diet you can adjust these individual ingredients on a daily basis in order to meet your puppies nutritional demands. Trusting a commercial dog food, even ones designed for puppies, can be like playing Russian Roulette with your puppy’s health.

Older dogs, on the other hand, usually need less calories, but feeding them less is not the answer. As their digestive systems become less efficient, the quality over quantity rule applies even more importantly to them. While you may find that in order to maintain their weight the portion size may be smaller because their activity level has decreased, their need for quality has in fact increased. Feeding your older dog a high quality home cooked diet will enable them to ward off disease and handle the effects of aging better. Commercial dog foods designed for older dogs are poorly thought out due to the common misconception that older dogs need less protein. They need just as much protein as they did when they were younger and they need better quality than what is typically found in commercial dog food.

Activity Level


Here is where so many people who do not truly know their dogs go wrong. How active your dog is plays a major part in deciding how much to feed him. If you only follow the recommended levels based on their current weight, you could be giving a lazy dog too many calories and a hyper dog far too little. In my house I have two shelties, distantly related, both around 20 lbs. The couch potato eats a home cooked diet portion slightly more than the recommended amount for an 8 lb dogs. The hyper one eats the portion recommended for a 20 lb dog. Both maintain their weight just fine on these amounts. If I fed the couch potato the recommended amount for her weight, she would swiftly become obese.

Health Issues


There are many health issues that can affect your dog’s weight and are unrelated to the amount of food you are feeding them. Hypothyroidism, a disease of the thyroid gland in which not enough thyroid hormone is produced, can cause a dog to gain weight. Cushing’s disease, caused by the overproduction of glucocorticoids, can cause weight gain as well. Hyperthyroidism, in which too much thyroid hormone is produced will cause weight loss. Cancer can cause no outward symptoms other than unexplained weight loss. Parasites, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, diabetes, Addison’s disease, hepatitis and protein deficiency can also cause weight loss. It is important to have your veterinarian examine your dog thoroughly if he seems to be gaining or losing weight and you have not altered his diet. If your dog is suffering from a health issue, a home cooked diet that can be tailored to suit his special needs is strongly recommended.

Remember, that while the commercial pet food industry is trying to personalize their foods to suit your dog (such as with breed specific varieties that are hot on the market today), YOU are the only one who truly knows your dog. Don’t get caught up in the “one size fits all” method of thinking when it comes to food. Monitor your dog’s weight at least on a weekly basis and make adjustments to suit his activity level, age, and health. It may sound like more work than just dumping a cup of kibble into a bowl, but your dog will really appreciate it!



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