Knowing Which Ingredients are Best for Your Furry Friend
Choosing a dog food can be overwhelming with so many varieties on the market. So, how do you determine what is the healthiest choice for your dog? Here are some tips that can help you find the best quality food for your pooch:
Read the Ingredients Label
No matter what the age of your pet, you’re going to want to see some specific things in the ingredients to be sure it’s good quality food. In pet food, the ingredients are listed by weight/quantity – so the first few ingredients will comprise the bulk of the food.
The first ingredients should always include some form of named animal protein like beef, chicken, lamb, or fish. Caution: avoid ‘meat by-products or poultry by-products’ as these are usually manufactured from low-cost parts that could come from any number of sources. If a listing includes ‘meal’ – a named type such as beef meal or chicken meal is better than ‘meat meal.’
Whole Vegetables, Fruits & Grains
Like humans, dogs get nutritional benefits from whole foods. Good quality dog food formulas will include added essential vitamins and minerals derived from legumes, fruits, vegetables, grains, or meat. If you prefer to leave grain out – whether by choice or necessity due to sensitivities – there are many quality grain-free foods on the market. If you’re not sure, talk to your veterinarian.
Quality Fats & Oils
A balanced diet provides about 10-15 percent fat, which promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat. Animal fats in dog food provide energy, add taste and flavor to foods, and assist in the absorption of specific vitamins. Quality fats in dog foods can be found in vegetable oil, soybean oil, and fish oil. Various vegetable oils in dog food can be very beneficial in your pup’s diet — especially sunflower and flaxseed oil. Vegetable oils are commonly found in dog food; however, excessive vegetable oil can cause your dog to gain weight or experience diarrhea. Be mindful of how much vegetable oil your furry friend is taking in. Another option for quality fats is poultry fats. Other animal fats that may be found in dog food include beef, lamb, and pork fats. Avoid foods with a generic ‘animal fat’ listing as they can come from less than desirable sources.
Choose a Food for Your Pet’s Particular Size, Activity Levels & Life Stage
The nutritional needs of a puppy are quite different from an adult or senior dog. Also, the size and activity levels of the dog can be significant. Some pet foods are formulated to meet the dietary needs of a specific breed. For example – a breed that’s susceptible to joint problems might benefit from a diet that includes vitamins and minerals that help strengthen bones.
What to Avoid
Say no to artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. Look for natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract instead. Watch out for added sugar or artificial sweeteners! Dogs love sweet things too, and these are often added to foods to coax dogs to eat sub-standard foods.
Note the Important Dates on the Bag
Natural preservatives mean the food has a shorter shelf life than those using artificial preservatives. Look for the freshest products by checking the date of manufacture and’ best by’ dates.
Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.
Pet Health: How To Tell If Your Dog or Cat is Too Fat.
If you’re asking ‘Is my cat too fat’ or ‘is my dog too fat’, the answer is more
likely yes than no.
In the U.S., it’s estimated that 57 percent of cats and 52 percent of dogs are
overweight or clinically obese.
It’s a great time for people who think their pet may be too fat to learn about
the common causes of obesity in pets. Good information means you can act
before excess weight negatively impacts your pet’s health, along with your
heart and your wallet. (Nobody needs extra vet bills.) So what’s the reason
behind your dog or cat gaining a few pounds? It’s usually due to three key
How Both Dogs and Cats Get Fat
● Overfeeding: This is one of the main culprits in pet obesity – but it’s not
just treat-based. Many people simply fill their pet’s bowl with food
without thinking about calories. Always use a measuring cup and follow
the recommendations you’re your veterinarian along with the
manufacturer’s guidelines for weight, age, and activity levels. Keep
treats to a minimum. Ever slip treats to a pet wanting your attention
while you’re busy with something else? Don’t fall into the trap of using
treats as a substitute for personal attention. Stop what you’re doing (if
possible) and give them a few minutes of your time and attention.
● Guilting You With Puppy and Kitty Eyes: They look so cute, so sweet,
so sad. If your pet learns you’ll reward them for a particular behavior,
they’ll work it for everything they can get. Don’t give into temptation.
Or at a minimum, make them work to get their treats to try to balance
● Lack of Exercise: Make sure your dog gets walks regularly (it’s good for
you both) and that both cats and dogs get plenty of play time and
activities to keep them moving. And why limit the walks to dogs? Many
cats can be trained to walk on a leash – so why not give it a try?
If you feel your dog or cat is still gaining weight even if you’re watching their
food and exercising them regularly, reach out to your local vet for guidance.
But how can you tell if your pet is too fat? Let’s break it down!
Is My Cat Too Fat?
Here are some things to look for to tell if your cat is too fat.
● When feeling for your cat’s ribcage, the buoyancy of your cat’s skin and
fat should feel the same as the back of your hand. You can easily feel it
with just a tinge or resistance.
● Weigh your cat. Domestic cats are ideally between 7 – 12 pounds, but of
course, the size – and breed – of your cat will also affect their weight.
● Does your cat have a noticeable waist? This is important to check for. If
not, then your cat needs to drop a pound or two.
● Does your cat have a tummy pouch? A little balloon of fat? If so, maybe
it’s time to get your cat in shape.
Consult your veterinarian.
Is My Dog Too Fat?
If you’re worried if your dog is too fat, here are some things to check for:
● When feeling for your dog’s ribcage, the buoyancy of your dog’s skin
and fat should feel the same as the back of your hand. You can easily feel the ribcage with just a bit of resistance. This varies a bit by breed, so be sure to check with your vet.
● Can you easily feel your dog’s spine and hip bones? If not, your dog may
need to drop a few pounds.
● Does your dog have a noticeable waist? This is important – if not, then
your dog may need more exercise.
Consult your veterinarian.
Remember, obesity in pets is not always due to too many treats and too little
exercise. Just as in humans, underlying health issues like diabetes, thyroid or
adrenal disorders can also cause weight gain in animals. If your pet is gaining
weight, or already overweight or obese, it’s time to schedule a visit to the vet.
Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know
There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!
Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs
Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!
Benefits of Purebred Dogs
One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.
Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.
Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences
When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.
So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).
What does this mean?
In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.
Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.
Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy
Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.
Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!
Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!