It’s important to make sure your dog is healthy. Keep reading for 15 key tips to making your four-legged friend a healthy dog.
Every loving pet owner wants the best for their furry family members.
A healthy dog gives your family lots of love and happy memories. You can avoid potential health problems and diseases that can affect your dog’s quality of life when you focus on healthy habits.
One of the biggest influences on your dog’s health is diet. The food your dog eats provides the nutrients necessary to stay healthy and have energy.
Healthy, nutritious ingredients and natural sources of nutrients help optimize your dog’s health. The way you feed your dog is also important.
Keep these 15 tips in mind to improve your dog’s diet.
1. Ignore Advertising Gimmicks
Watch dog food commercials and you’ll see happy dogs and beaming pet owners. The marketing geniuses behind those commercials know how to appeal to the emotions of pet owners.
But they’re not experts in pet nutrition. They’re also paid by the pet food companies, so they only care about promoting those products. The company cares about maximizing profits, and advertisements are designed to achieve that goal.
Advertisements focus on the best aspects of any product, and they can manipulate the information to make things sound better than they are. They might leave out information strategically.
Never use advertisements as a source of information. Do your own research on any dog food or treats you’re considering for your pet. Remember that any information that comes from the company is meant to promote that company and boost sales.
2. Read the Label
Product labels provide a way to evaluate commercially produced dog food. The ingredients list lets you see exactly what you’re feeding your dog.
Pet food labeling guidelines require manufacturers to list the ingredients from most to least based on the weight of each ingredient. The ingredient listed first is what’s in the food in the largest amount.
Focus on the first five ingredients on the list since those make up the bulk of the food.
The packaging has to list several other pieces of information including a guaranteed analysis to show specific nutrients, nutritional adequacy statement, and calorie statement.
3. Be Wary of Shelf-Stable Food
The pet food aisle consists mainly of shelf-stable food in bags or cans. That may seem convenient. You don’t have to worry about refrigerating the food, and it lasts for months or years.
But that shelf stability comes at a price. The cooking and processing strip the food of many of the nutrients you can only get with fresh food.
Many commercial dog food products use synthetic supplements to add nutrients back into the food. They may technically meet the nutrition requirements, but there’s a big difference between natural nutrients and synthetic ones.
Your dog’s body may not be able to process and absorb the synthetic nutrients as well as natural nutrients. That means your pup may miss out on the important health benefits of nutrients that you think they’re getting.
4. Skip Meat By-Products
Commercial dog foods often contain meat by-products in their food along with high grain content.
By-products are the leftovers that are saved after the lean muscle is removed to use for human food products. That includes things such as organs, bones, and blood.
Those leftovers are ground up and cooked. Then, they go into pet food.
Using meat by-products is a cheap way for companies to make pet food. It’s high in protein, but it’s not necessarily the best source of protein. And it’s not likely what you want your dog to eat.
Opt for dog food made with real meat instead of meat by-products. This gives your best the healthiest form of protein without all of the discarded junk.
5. Balance Ingredients
Many commercial dog foods load up on grains.
While grains offer nutritional value, your pet needs a balance of ingredients to have a healthy diet. Sometimes grains can cause digestive issues for dogs if they have a sensitivity to them.
You don’t need to eliminate grains completely from your dog’s diet, but you also want to make sure the food contains meat for protein instead of loads of grain. If you’re buying dog food at the grocery store, check those labels to see where the meat falls on the ingredients list.
6. Ditch the Preservatives and Additives
Those commercial pet foods that can sit on the shelf for extended periods of time are often full of chemical preservatives. Those preservatives stop fats in the food from turning rancid.
But synthetic preservatives might be potentially dangerous for your dog. They’re chemical additives that could have adverse effects. Even though they’re approved for use in dog food, they could cause potential health problems for your dog.
Natural preservatives, such as vitamins E and C, are sometimes used, but they don’t offer the shelf life of synthetic preservatives. You can see it listed as tocopherol or ascorbate.
Fresh and homemade pet food eliminates the need for those preservatives. Your pet eats those feeds quickly, so they don’t need the long shelf life that preservatives allow.
As a pet owner, you’ll feel better eliminating those unnecessary chemicals by switching to a homemade food diet for your pet.
7. Look for Antioxidants
You look for antioxidants in your own food, but do you do the same for your furry family member?
Antioxidants for dogs can support immunity, slow aging, and reduce the risks of certain diseases. They can also help reduce inflammation throughout your pup’s body.
Many antioxidant ingredients work well in dog food. Fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, blueberries, spinach, and apples offer antioxidants to your dog’s diet.
Certain oils can also have an antioxidant effect. This includes coconut oil and olive oil.
Quinoa is another antioxidant that also provides protein. It’s a good grain alternative in pet food.
Turmeric has antioxidant properties and offers a natural anti-inflammatory and detoxing effect. It also helps with digestive health.
8. Opt for Whole, Fresh Foods
Whole, fresh foods maintain the natural nutrients that come in those ingredients. They contain the live enzymes that support your dog’s health. They also deliver the fiber your dog needs to support digestion.
The real, natural nutrients in whole foods are easier for your dog’s body to absorb. They’re more readily available for your dog’s body to use.
Protein is an important component of dog food. Meat is a major source of protein for dogs.
Other superfoods that go into the mix make dog food even healthier for your pup. Hemp seed oil supplies fatty acids, supports cognitive functioning, and improves your dog’s coat. It’s often better than fish oil, which can turn rancid quickly.
Coconut oil supports tissue and coat health. It’s also a good source of fat for your dog with medium-chain fatty acids to support health.
9. Incorporate Vegetables
A bowl full of veggies isn’t what you think of when you consider dog food, but many vegetables are very nutritious for pets. Those foods are loaded with nutrients that support your pet’s health.
It’s important to note that some human foods, including certain fruits and veggies, are dangerous for pets. Some vegetables that dogs shouldn’t have include avocado, onions, garlic, and asparagus. Always check on the safety of whole foods for dogs before feeding them to your pet.
Many vegetables and other whole ingredients are superfoods for dogs. Some good options include sweet potatoes, carrots, red beets, kale, and broccoli. These foods and many other superfoods make it into our homemade pet food ingredients.
To keep chemicals to a minimum, choose certified organic and non-GMO vegetables for your dog. Wash all produce well before feeding your dog, especially any non-organic produce.
10. Choose Human-Grade Ingredients
The ingredients considered fit for pet consumption don’t meet the same guidelines as human food requirements. Some of the meat used in dog food could be diseased or from animals that already died before going to the meat processing plant.
Pet-grade food is also subject to potential contamination. Pet food recalls over the years show the potential for dangerous contamination.
Human-grade pet food is food that’s made in the same type of facilities as human food. By choosing human-grade ingredients, you give yourself a little more peace of mind with what you’re feeding your dog.
An easy way to do that is to use homemade food. This gives you total control over what goes into the food and what quality of ingredients you use.
11. Limit Food Servings
Limiting food servings prevents overfeeding, which can cause your dog to gain too much weight. Your pet stays healthier with just the right amount of food.
Dog feeding charts give you an idea of how much food your dog needs in a 24-hour period. If you serve your dog two meals per day, the amount in most dog charts should be divided in half since that’s the total for the day.
The calorie content of the food can affect those amounts. Consider other sources of calories, too, including treats you give your dog.
Measure the dog food with a measuring cup for accuracy if you don’t use pre-portioned meals for your pet.
12. Track Your Dog’s Weight
Just like humans, pets can be overweight and have health issues because of those extra pounds.
One study shows that 55.8% of dogs fall into the overweight or obese category.
Keeping an eye on your dog’s weight helps you spot an overfeeding issue early. If your dog is overweight, be especially careful about only feeding him the calories he needs. Feeding your dog earlier in the day gives him more time to work off the calories during the day.
Some pets have the opposite problem. If your dog is underweight, make sure he gets regular meals to ensure proper calorie intake. Nighttime feedings can help your underweight dog hold onto those calories instead of burning them all off during the day.
13. Monitor Behavior
Dogs will often eat whatever pet food you put in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’re reaching their optimal health goals. Keeping an eye on how your dog looks and acts can help you determine if it’s a healthy diet or needs to be changed.
Consider how your dog acts. Does he have lots of energy, or does he seem sluggish? Does your dog appear to have digestive pain or distress after eating?
The look of your dog’s coat is also an indicator of health. It should look shiny and smooth with clear, smooth skin underneath. A coat that’s brittle or coarse could mean that your dog isn’t getting the best nutrition possible.
14. Don’t Forget the Water
Water intake is another part of feeding and caring for your dog to ensure proper health.
A general guideline is to have your dog drink 1 ounce of water for every pound he weighs. A 25-pound dog would need about 25 ounces of water per day.
But activity level and temperature can affect those needs. If your dog is highly active or spends a lot of time outside in the heat, those water needs increase.
Water supports lots of different processes within your dog’s body. It helps with proper blood flow, supports breathing, and flushes toxins from your dog’s body. Water helps your dog maintain proper body temperature.
It’s also important in the digestive process. Without plenty of clean, fresh water, your dog may have digestive issues.
15. Keep Serving Bowls Clean
Keeping your dog’s food bowls clean reduces bacterial growth that can cause sickness.
Wash the bowls after each feeding to keep them clean.
Beware of commercial cleaners that have harsh chemicals in them. The chemicals can stay on the surfaces of the bowls and contaminate the food. Vinegar is a natural cleaning option to freshen the bowl.
Choose Healthy Dog Food
A healthy dog is happier and has a higher chance of living a longer life. That means more time to enjoy your canine companion. Your dog’s diet is a key component to a healthy life.
Want to feed your dog homemade food without the work?
Explore our human-grade homemade dog food options that are delivered right to your door.