We all know that proper nutrition is a cornerstone of good human health, and hopefully the petMD Nutrition Center is helping owners understand that the same is true for their dogs. Unfortunately, knowledge alone isn’t enough.
Knowledge has to be put into action, and this is often easier said than done. I know that I don’t always make the best food choices myself. Stress, cravings, and a lack of time and energy can all overwhelm my best intentions. But do these excuses also play a role in canine nutrition? They shouldn’t! Here’s why.
1. Balanced Canine Nutrition is Convenient
In the rush of the morning or after a long day at work, it can be difficult to find the time put together a balanced meal for you and your family. It’s so much easier just to pick up a burger and fries on the way home or pull something out of the freezer.
No excuses on the canine side of things. What could be more convenient than a bag of dog food that offers a completely balanced meal with each and every scoop? You can use the MyBowl tool to examine your dog’s food label to make sure he is getting what he needs from his current diet, and to compare different foods if you think a change might be called for.
2. Wholesome Ingredients Can Be Found in Dog Food
This one isn’t too tough either. Next time you are shopping for dog food, look at the ingredient lists for a couple of different products. Do you see things like chicken and whole grain oats? If you spend a few minutes in the store or online making sure that your dog’s food is made from wholesome ingredients like these, you don’t have to worry about it on a day to day basis.
3. Cravings and Self-control. Who Are We Talking About Here?
Do dogs have cravings? I’m not really sure. I know my dog loves bananas, but he doesn’t really seem to think about them until one is peeled in his presence. I do know that self-control is not exactly any dog’s strong suit, but as long as he doesn’t have access to the pantry, this shouldn’t really matter.
Where self-control does play a big role in canine nutrition is in our ability to say "no" to those imploring looks that dogs give us when they want just one more treat or a little something from the table. Tough love people! When "parenting," sometimes you know best. You just have to stick with your decision, no matter how unpopular it is.
4. Stress Relief Should Not Be Centered Around Food
Just like us, dogs have stress in their lives. Being left alone for long periods of time probably causes the most canine anxiety these days. I think owners recognize the stress that alone-time plays in a dog’s life and feel a little guilty about it. Our response? We want to spoil our dogs when we are home, and all too often this comes in the form of food, which can lead to obesity.
Go ahead and spoil your dog, but do it with play, attention, or a long walk after dinner, rather than extra food.
5. Feeding a Dog Well Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
Unfortunately, there seems to be a direct relationship between the nutritional quality and cost of human food. It just seems wrong that a couple of apples should cost more than a fast food burger. While there is an element of "you get what you pay for" in dog food, good canine nutrition more than pays for itself in the end. Dogs that eat well are healthier and see the vet less frequently than those that eat the canine equivalent of junk food. Many people also find that they need to feed less when they are feeding a high quality food to their dogs, so the cost per meal (versus per bag) can actually be very reasonable.
Is your dog eating worse, as well, or better than you are?
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: jaguardelplatanar / via Flickr