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some nutrition information about dogs - ask me any questions you may have about nutrition

 
Mia Shae
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Hey! My boyfriend and I are both gardening enthusiasts (this is my first post here) and have recently adopted a puppy. My job is working with pets and their owners in trying to find the right kind of food for their dog at a small, family owned pet health food/product store, as well as identifying the source of possible skin problems or digestion problems. All of us employees go through pretty extensive and in depth training, updated and retrained ever month or so, on many types of dog foods, including their benefits and downfalls, and I talk to many owners every day about their experiences with these different foods and supplements. I've also tried many of these foods myself. It's my job to know what every ingredient in a bag of dog food does for a dog and how to pick a specific dog food for a specific type of dog. All dogs are not made alike and each dog will require a certain diet to make it the healthiest it can be. However, there are some things that are universal and some bits of information that every dog owner should know. Here are a few broad points that I tell all of my customers:

1. If your dog is having skin problems, itching, or signs of allergies of any kind, it is most likely caused by grains and/or chicken in their diet. Of course, dogs do develop allergies to other meat proteins or plant products but the most common allergy is to grains and chicken. The chicken allergies actually come from the fact that most big-box pet foods contain chicken as their main protein source and over time, dogs will develop an allergy to over exposure to this protein (which is often found as chicken by-product, which is whatever is left over from human food processing). Switching your dog to a limited ingredient diet, a raw diet (which can be found in some pet stores), or a grain free diet can often solve these issues. Signs to look out for are itchy ears, dry skin, hair loss, eye discharge, and runny nose.

2. You'd be surprised how poor the quality is of supposedly "premium" foods, which sometimes are recommended by vets! The reason a vet would prescribe these poor foods is that often, the vet office will have signed a contract with the food company and will make a huge profit margin - sometimes up to 1000 percent mark up! Examples of these poor quality foods masquerading as premium foods are science diet and royal canin. If you look on the back of a bag of dog food you should look out for corn, white rice, wheat, soy, and by-product of any kind. Wheat is sometimes acceptable as long as your dog is not allergic to grains, but the other ingredients listed are red flags! Corn and soy are actually not digestible to dogs and provide no nutritional value. This means that they are simply fillers - worthless ingredients meant to fill up the bag and save the company money. These fillers can also cause significant health problems over time, and are often the culprit for smelly waste and that "wet dog smell". White rice, unlike brown rice, is broken down into sugar during digestion and also provides little nutritional value. By-products are whatever animal product is left after human food production - in chicken this is beaks and feet - and contains hardly any of the protein that is vital to your dog's health. Instead of by-product, look for "chicken MEAL" or simply "chicken", for example, in the first five listed ingredients. A meat meal goes through a dehydration process that makes it 600 percent more protein-rich than its meat counterpart. Another sign of a good food is when the fat source in the ingredients matches the meat source. This means that the company is using the whole animal in production and not cutting corners.

3. Fish oil - yes, the kind that people take too! - is a great overall supplement for every dog to have in their diets. I recommend this to everyone, especially people whose dogs have itchy or dry skin or shedding problems. The omega 3's in the oil help cells throughout the body to regenerate quicker and provide moisture to dry coats, also making the actual hair follicles shiner and healthier. Dry skin and unhealthy hair follicles are often the cause of excessive shedding. As well as helping with coat problems, fish oil will make dogs' eyes brighter and help with puppy growth/development (because of the cell production benefits) and overall brain function. For even greater benefits, it's good to pair fish oil with dog food with fish as its main protein source. We sell bottles of pure salmon oil at my work (it's made specifically for our company) but you can probably find it online as well!

4. Switching to a better quality food with not only make your dog feel better, but will cut down on doggy waste (by up to half - I've had this experience with the raw diet!) because the dog will be absorbing so much more from the food, and will no longer be pooping out those indigestible fillers, and will also make your dog smell better! Grains and fillers are often the cause of smelly dogs as the excess buildup of these indigestible or allergy-inducing ingredients seep out through the skin. Your dog will also likely have much more energy and will have a shinier coat and many less health problems in the future.

Anyway, there are some general points. If you have any questions about your dog's diet or any problems they may have, I will try to answer them to the best of my ability!

Mia

p.s. here is a picture of our adorable puppy Kira!
 
Julia Winter
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What sort of dog is that, with that striking blue eye?

Our dog Mocha suffers from allergies to possibly every grain out there, and then chicken as well. Now that he's 12, he's having issues with itchy skin, and I'm considering going back to BARF (Bones And Raw Foods, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) for him. It was what we fed him in his first few years, before we had kids, and it's probably why he's still going strong at 12, which is kind of old for a German Shepherd. Back in the day I could get boxes of turkey necks for $0.27/lb. The last time I checked it was closer to a dollar a pound--I think there are so many people feeding raw that the supplier is just testing what the market will bear. Still, I just spent over $300 at the vet's office for skin tests, bloodwork and then 5 prescriptions, and the dry foods that Mocha can eat are easily over $2 a pound, so I should probably get some turkey necks. If nothing else, it's terrific "dental floss" for dogs, and a dog's favorite way to clean their teeth.

We'll be getting a whole hog in about three weeks, so there will be bone eating from that, plus maybe the kidneys. . .
 
Saybian Morgan
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Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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I got a question, how can I nutritionally reduce the need to clean my dogs anal glands. The two small dogs we can do but to hold down, but the old man livestock Pyrenees is allot of work and he's too old to drag his bum, to top it off he's not ours but we feed him because he protects our property as part of his territory. His owner wont take him to a vet and he's only alive because we feed him secretly because he's fed on gruel dog food.

This is about the only question I haven't been able to answer myself via research.
 
Julia Winter
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If you feed raw bones, the dog will produce rock hard "chalky white dog poo" and this will naturally express the anal glands. The ironic thing about dogs (to me, as a pediatrician) is that when on kibble they produce smooth sided poops, which are visually how "ideal" human poops should look (what I frequently say to parents of kids with constipation issues is that I want enough fiber in the diet so that every poop is soft and smooth sided) but when they are on their most appropriate diet they will produce super hard poops that look more like the poops of humans on mac and cheese.

Even if you don't feed raw bones, a high quality dog food will produce harder, dark poops that will likely help the anal glands regularly express themselves.

Raw bones are safe for dogs. Cooked bones are not, because when you cook bones the small ones get brittle and poky and the large ones get hard enough to break teeth.
 
LaLena MaeRee
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What if a dog will not stop eating poop? From her own, to that of all the other dogs she lives with, my parents little Shitzu mix will NOT STOP eating poop. They have tried all the tricks, even stuff the vet said to do like putting meat tenderizer in their food, hot sauce on the piles of poop, pick it up as fast as it is dropped, etc. I told them I think it is a nutritional problem and she knows she isn't getting something she needs, but I am no expert so my advice was ignored. Have you ever seen this issue before? Can it be solved with better food? They feed all their dogs a typical cheap dry dog food from a grocery store, pretty sure it is predigree. Your little Kira is super cute! and totally healthy, her skin and hair look better than mine do, jealous!
 
Randy Gibson
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So, where are the answers? :>
 
Julia Winter
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Hi Randy,

I think Mia disappeared. For the dog that eats poop, I would definitely try a dogfood that doesn't have grains in it. Dogs on poor quality food produce a whole lot more stool, and I would assume there is a lot of residue in that stool from the species-inappropriate food that may be appealing for some reason.

Dogs can eat all kinds of stuff, but biologically speaking they are designed to eat critters, plus maybe some fruits. They get veggies from the guts of their prey. They don't get grain at all in their natural diet (because grain is practically a human invention).
 
Willy Walker
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Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
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We have a 2 year old border collie / spaniel mix. I question if he has an allergy or is just bored. He likes to lick himself all over. Sometimes he will move to the couch or blanket or your jean pants and keep licking. He really likes to focus on his front legs but will do other parts. I often wonder what he is doing, Cooling off? Being crazy, bored, etc.? or allergies? He is feed well. Generally wellness core dry food with a bit of merit can food mixed in. During the day he will eat many samples of different veggies and fruits as we prepare our meals. it is amazing how much variety he likes. Just typing this I realize wellness makes a fish dry kibble that we could switch to to find our if its the chicken. What do you think?

I also have many questions about my cat and bladder crystals, I have a whole story if any body has experience with that...
 
Julia Winter
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Hi Willy,

Border Collies do tend towards obsession, so you might want to try increasing his brain stimulation any way you can (I'm sure he'd be great at agility. Have you seen Treibball? Search on YouTube to see cool videos--it's herding without the sheep.) If you do that and the licking continues, it could be allergies.

My cat developed urine crystals that put him in the hospital. He is now on nothing but (grain-free) canned food, in order to maximize the water in his diet. We also had to get a completely new litter box, because he became convinced his litter box was evil once it started to hurt when he peed.
 
Willy Walker
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Julia Winter wrote:Hi Willy,

Border Collies do tend towards obsession, so you might want to try increasing his brain stimulation any way you can (I'm sure he'd be great at agility. Have you seen Treibball? Search on YouTube to see cool videos--it's herding without the sheep.) If you do that and the licking continues, it could be allergies.

My cat developed urine crystals that put him in the hospital. He is now on nothing but (grain-free) canned food, in order to maximize the water in his diet. We also had to get a completely new litter box, because he became convinced his litter box was evil once it started to hurt when he peed.



Thats amazing. I have all ways been interested in working my dog with sheep but that not really an option in my area. I could see my dog would be nervous with the ball at first but i see great youtube videos explaining how to overcome this. You are most likely right about obsessions..

We have switched to can cat food with high quality proteins and no grains. We have also been giving things like tuna juice with added water. like this morning my cat drank 1/2 cup of tuna water. we have the pet fountain as well. His brother actually died about a year ago from surgery from the same problem. We don't want that to happen again. It seems the vet(s) are not familiar with a solution other than giving us SD science diet which is full of awful ingredients...

Thank you for your help!
 
Julia Winter
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Yeah, Treibball is super cool. I was training my overly intelligent high-strung scaredy cat cattle dog mix in this until he bit our neighbor--for the second time--and I had to find him a new home. (Very sad story, although it has a reasonably happy ending.) No more puppies for us until our 12 yr old German Shepherd passes on (he deserves a peaceful dotage, and he still hasn't grown back the fur in his tail and butt the cattle dog maniac ripped out in play) but someday I will be looking for a puppy that was whelped on a farm/homestead with free ranging chickens. Just putting that out there, in case someone with cool dogs is reading. . .

Our cat took a prescription medicine for a long time to help with passing urine (and now I can't recall the name--this was July of 2011) but in the past 18 months the only treatment has been canned cat food. When I was first treating him I would sometimes mix Trader Joe's tuna for cats with canned green beans in the food processor to make a soppy wet food, but I haven't done that in a while. We have a store that gives discounts when you buy 12 cans at a time of cat food, so I get 12 of the soup can sized cans at a time. (Our cat is over 15 pounds--I think 18 pounds.)
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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