Dogs are carnivores, omnivores and scavengers by nature. Nutrition is a too huge a subject to cover here suffice to say it is expecting a lot from any single formula product to be able to provide all known nutrients plus any “non essential” but still beneficial agents which may prevent cancer, boost immunity or just help keep teeth clean. Dogs need do to chew for dental and psychological well being . Dry food kibble alone is not sufficient for gum exercise! It is largely swallowed intact . All dogs will therefore benefit from having a raw chewy meaty bone or cartilage regularly (2-3 weekly) or at least a rawhide chew in the diet to clean teeth and exercise the jaw, alleviate boredom and stop unwanted chewing of furniture. Chicken wings and necks or rootails are suitable for smaller breed pups . For larger breeds try pigs trotters, knuckles, shank bones etc. Supermarket cereal sticks like “Dentabones ‘ unfortunately are sticky carb products full of calories which go mushy when wet and leave more food residue for bacteria on the gums so cannot be recommended. Leather hides or pig ears have minimal calorie but when wet act like a chamois to help polish teeth so are better options .
It is also worthwhile including some phytonutrient rich dark coloured vegetables like carrot, broccoli, peas, beans, corn, capsicum ,pumpkin or sprouted beans/seeds. Fruit like apple, orange, banana, pears or berries are also good.
(Avoid grapes ,onion, garlic or chocolate or macadamias as they are toxic to dogs) .
Cereals like weetbix or breads have little place in a dog diet but are used as the cheap fillers in poorer quality foods as the protein source . Cereals also interfere with zinc or calcium uptake and more frequent causes of food allergies. Some carb however is important in the diet for energy production so that muscle is not burned for energy production .
When selecting a quality food for pups, features to look for are :
- Primarily meat not plant as main protein and is actual meat not derivatives
- Some (proven) abrasive dental benefit properties
- A good fatty acid (omega 3) and DHA profile
- Gut health promoters (probiotics and prebiotics like psyllium, pumpkin, chicory )
- Phytonutrient vegetables versus grains.
Blackhawk and Ivory coat are excellent value Australian made dry products . Of the frozen foods, Dr Billinghursts “BARF” (Bones And Raw Food) diet is a good raw (frozen) addition wholefood diet and also good as a treat. Prime is a new high quality single protein source diet suitable for skin and gut sensitivities .
Growing puppies are like adolescents . They should be lean not flabby. They will fill into the lanky frame at around 18-24 months and not before. Flappy pups have a quadrupled incidence of hip dysplasias ,cruciate ligament rupture and other joint cartilage diseases. If your growing still undesexed pup is already overweight by 6 month this will only get worse as an adult! Underfeeding is a safer option if in doubt. Dont not be frightened to simply fast your dog once a week and give a chewy hide or bone instead . Dogs rarely get constant access to food in the wild.
Ask the Vet or Nurse for help if you are unsure about target weights or food options .