Dogs, like humans, require a well balanced diet to ensure that they receive optimum nutrition and to boost their immunity levels – so that they can avoid illnesses and stay healthy and fit. They require vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, protein and fibre to have healthy coats, bones, and muscles.
Dogs are carnivores, by nature – and their digestive tract is built to process meat. However they require more vitamins and nutrients than they can get from meat alone, to avoid skeletal deformities, serious bone problems and even heart failure. To ensure healthy immune systems, and to maintain their coat and skin dogs require a diet rich in Vitamins C, E and Beta-Carotene, as well as Omega 3 and 6, Zinc, Copper and Biotin. They also need adequate fibre as 65% of their immune system lies in their digestive tract, and fibre is needed to move their food in their digestive tract. Fibre can be found in various sources, including oatmeal, flaxseed and beet pulp.
- Other non meat sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are suitable for dogs are:
- Apples which are high in fibre and vitamins A and C – as long as the pips and core as these are toxic to dogs.
- Blueberries which are a superfood and rich in anti-oxidants.
- Pears which are high in copper, fibre and vitamins C and K – again the seeds and core must be removed.
- Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in dogs and also provide potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. They are also high in dietary fibre.
- Broccoli is a great source of vitamins C and K as well as dietary fibre.
- Carrots are a great low-calorie snack for dogs – high in fibre and beta-carotene. Their crunch is also great for dogs teeth.
- If your dog is overweight, cucumbers are a great snack – helping to boost energy levels with minimal calories and high in potassium, copper, magnesium, biotin and vitamins K, C and B1.
Poisons to your dog
Please be aware that some foods that we may not think of as bad for our dogs can be very poisonous to them. These include:
Apple pips (apples are great but core them first!)
Xylitol (an artificial sweetner)
Garlic (some people use Garlic in moderation as a flea preventative but only ever in small amounts – check with your vet first)
Pet Food labels
As part of my holistic healthcare for dogs course, I recently did a comparison on two types of dog foods – and I was quite shocked at the results, so if you are buying pet food please read the labels as you would your own food, to ensure there are no nasties in it. Go for a product with a short ‘cleaner’ ingredient list, where meat protein is the main ingredient – and not carbohydrates or cereal – preferably with no additives, wheat gluten, soya or dairy products. Also look for products that contain meat proteins which are derived from meat and organs from an animal, and not animal proteins which can be derived from any area of the animal – including hooves, hair, lips etc so not as dense in nutrients.
Other good ingredients to look out for are Beet Pulp which is good for dogs digestion as well as eggs, a great source of nutrition. Krill oil is a good source of Omega 3s and great for the dogs coat, their immune system and great for arthritis. Linseed and prebiotics – again good for their digestive tract. Glucosamine and Chondroitin help to maintain healthy joints.