Deciding on a Healthy Diet for Your Dog
How worried are you about providing a high quality healthy diet? It seems that everyone has an opinion on
this subject today. Should I feed dry kibble, semi-moist or canned dog food? Should I prepare homemade
dinners for my dog or provide a commercially prepared raw diet? Should I choose one type and stick to it
or rotate foods? Do I need a dog food diet that includes premium, holistic brands, or those that are all
natural or organic? Will I even be able to afford those high priced diets?
healthy, affordable diet a challenge. That is only a start. It often
feels as though one must have a PhD in chemistry to decipher pet
food labels. Moreover, understanding the difference between good,
better, and best ingredients requires one to pursue a PhD in Canine
Nutrition. For the average pet owner who wants to provide a good
quality dietary experience for their dog, the choices often become
themselves and are then using this knowledge to make informed
decisions about their pets.
offered lower quality in the past are improving their lines. Although reassuring, it is still a monumental
challenge to walk into a pet store, grocery store and stare at four isles of different brands of dog food
knowing that there are even more choices online. What is the average pet owner to do? We had this
dilemma and started a little research on our own. These are some of the questions we asked?
This has become a hotly debated subject recently. Many people are advocating for home cooked meals
for their dog declaring this as the easiest, healthiest way to provide a good Shih Tzu diet. By cooking it
yourself, you are fully aware of what ingredients you are using and have complete control over the
freshness and wholesomeness of those foods you provide. One must understand the science of canine
nutrition to do this properly, so simply giving your dog your table scraps will not provide all the nutrition
that the dog needs. If you are on the other side of the debate, you like many of us simply do not have the
time to devote to the study of nutritional needs of Canis lupis familiaris and would prefer for the experts to
put together the diet that best meets our fur babies’ needs.
Do dogs have the same nutritional requirements as you or I? The answer is yes and no. Dogs have
unique requirements and many of the foods we eat are very dangerous to your dog, even lethal. Dogs are
considered carnivores but their early ancestors were also scavengers. As such, they would devour the
entire carcass of the animal including the stomach contents, which contained vegetable and fruit matter.
Today’s commercial foods reflect this heritage with protein sources that include meat and fish as well as
vegetables and fruits. All dogs require Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals, and plenty of
fresh water. Depending on the quality of the food, there are many different sources for each of these
nutrients. Good sources of protein include meat and fish, or concentrated versions of meats such as
chicken meal. Poor quality foods use protein fillers such as corn gluten meal. Good sources of fats
include named fats such as herring oil or chicken fat. Poorer quality foods contain non-specific sources
such as vegetable oils and synthetic preservatives such as BHA and BHT. Carbohydrates come in the
form of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in high quality foods. Poor quality foods will contain highly
processed flours and grain remnants.
Labels can be so confusing, but you can become an expert in no time by reading a few simple tips on what
to look for in the order and way of ingredients. Fortunately you don’t need to understand every word but
you should be aware of what you are putting in your little Shih Tzu’s stomach There are a few key sections
on a label that you can use to help decide on a particular product. These sections include the product’s
name, the ingredients, the guaranteed analysis, the nutritional adequacy statement, and the feeding
guidelines. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into details about food labels. In the next article, we
will delve into a few quick tricks to help you understand just what is going into your favorite canine’s
mouth. Read more about Dog Food Labels.
Should you feed a meal or let your puppy snack all day? There are those that suggest the best way to
train your dog is to put him on a schedule of predetermined meal times. This method teaches the dog that
you are the alpha member of the pack and that you and only you provide his sustenance. This method
also helps with house training as it provides a consistent means for you to schedule outdoor walks. Those
that use this method will provide three meals a day for very young puppies, reducing it to two meals, as
they get older, and even one meal as adults.
On the other hand, some prefer to provide food throughout the day—free feed. This method works better
for busy families who may not always be available at the same time each day to feed the dog, creating
inconsistencies in his schedule. It is also hard on small breed dogs, such as the Shih Tzu, Yorkie, or
Maltese, because they are prone to hypoglycemia, which can be treated if caught early. It can also be
fatal if the dog does not eat within a relatively short period.
Knowing how to prevent them is the easiest route to take, but what if you have a dog that develops
problems as they age? Obesity is a major problem in Shih Tzu as they age, especially those that have
become lazy over the years and do not receive their daily dose of exercise. Finding the right product,
feeding the correct amounts, and limiting extra treats and snacks and providing daily exercise is one way
to avoid obesity problems.
Some breeds such as Shih Tzu dogs are also prone to food allergies that often show up as skin irritations,
scratching, and hair loss. Does your dog have allergies? At least a fourth of all Shih Tzu have some type
of allergy. These dogs could be allergic to one or more ingredient in the food or they could be sensitive to
some contaminant that creeps into the food during the manufacturing process. The only real way to know
is to put the dog on an elimination diet under the care of your veterinarian.
To make matters worse, the Shih Tzu dogs seem to have peculiar eating preferences. One very common
issue that some of these dogs have is that of eating their own or others feces, called coprophagia. This is
a nasty habit but it will not hurt your dog. Puppyhood is usually when it originates. The mother dog must
keep the puppies clean and thus licks them to stimulate urination and defecation. Puppies watch and
learn from their mother. The best method is simply to get the feces up before the dog has a chance to get
it. If that is not possible, there are products on the market that help with the habit or some prefer to try
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site is for informational purposes only and is in no way intended to replace the professional advice
and treatment of a veterinarian.