Healthy Dog Nutrition Secrets

Sample Chapter

Why Is Your Dogís Diet Important?


Dogs became man's best friend centuries ago. Back then, they acted as companions to their owners just as they do today. They offer us unconditional love. They don't care if we're in a bad mood, a good mood or a quiet mood. They love us just the same.


We can scold them one minute and they will always come back to our side, hoping to make amends for their misdeeds. When we are down, they come to play and brighten us up. They express such compassion that you would swear they feel your pain and are in sympathy with you. When we come home from a stressful day, their excited welcome is enough to relieve the tension.


Dogs not only provide us with good feelings. It's proven that owning a dog can improve your mental well-being and general health. In fact, they are being used more extensively to offer companionship and love to shut-ins who cannot have their own dog. Those weekly visits from the dogs lift their mood and draw attention away from their own worries, at least for a little while.


While dogs have been man's best friend for centuries, and continue to be so, they also play a distinct role in society. Dogs can be trained for a number of different jobs: seeing eye or guide dogs, police dogs, guard dogs and even clown dogs.   As anyone who had a dog as a kid, you know how much fun they can be and how willing they are to do your bidding. They will quickly learn how to play dead, roll over, sit, shake hands and a whole list of other tricks.


Any dog that has been well-cared for will respond to us just like this. They want to be friends, and they want to please.


I've always had dogs. This is Kobe, my American Eskimo Spitz. He was my second Spitz. Kobe lived to be 15. My first Spitz, Nikki, lived to the ripe age of 16-1/2. He led a healthy life and then became ill quickly and died within about a month. Apart from the fact that the Spitz seems to live a long time, I believe that how they were treated had a lot to do with their longevity. They were always given dog food, not much in table scraps, and they got lots of exercise. And, of course, lots of love and attention.


Along with Kobe, I had Cindy, a lab/chow mix breed. They got along great together. She was extremely docile and absolutely loved being hugged. It was comical to watch her sway her hips in front of Kobe as if she were trying to lure him, like a sexy vixen.


She loved one squeaky fluffy toy bone that she always activated in sets of 2-3 squeaks. It was very easy to get her to do this by simply repeating the word, "squeak, squeak", and she would copy me. Cindy had this very thick undercoat that became very dry around the time I learned that she had cancer. Sadly, she died at the age of 10-1/2, the year after this picture was taken. The vet said she was within the normal age expectancy of such a big dog, but it didn't take away the pain of losing her after such a relatively short time. Of course, Kobe missed her too and he died the following year.


This is why it's vital that you make sure your dog gets proper exercise and nutrition right from the start. Their lives are far too short as it is, and when you've committed so much of yourself to them, and them to you, you want your relationship to last as long as absolutely possible.


I loved all my dogs and spent a lot of time with them, as I'm sure you love and have loved yours. They bring us more enjoyment and satisfaction than a non-dog lover can imagine. That's why it's so important that we protect them from disease. That's why we must ensure they get the best attention to ensure they stay healthy.


You'd think I knew a lot about dog nutrition, but to be honest, I didn't. I knew some of the rules, like not feeding them bones that splinter because the pieces can damage their internal organs. I know not to feed my dogs fatty foods and sweets because dogs do not have the ability to handle such foods as we do.


Not long ago, I learned that giving chocolate to a dog is very dangerous because it can cause seizures. This was after I had shared my chocolate chip cookies with Nikki.


I always bought the cheapest dog food and never looked at the ingredients, only to discover recently that many dog foods use corn as filler.


When my veterinarian recommended certain brands of dog food, I was resistant because I felt that he was getting some kind of commission for promoting those products. Besides, they were usually much more expensive than my wallet could afford.


Like you, I had trouble resisting the puppy dog eyes staring back at me while I ate my meals. Nikki frequently got scraps of meat gristle, vegetables and potatoes, although they were very small amounts.


Since I had Nikki, I've learned a great deal more about dog nutrition that I will be sharing with you in this book.  I believe I was lucky with him, or perhaps all the exercise compensated for the extra bits of food and cheap dog food I was giving him.


I know now that some of the food we eat can be toxic to a dog. Greasy foods or fried food react on a dog's system much the same as it does ours. They make dogs fat. Besides, grease can do some nasty things to their waste.


When I noticed my dogís coat was not as shiny as it once was, I talked it over with other dog owners and the vet. Other owners admitted they didn't pay much attention to their dog's diet until the dog began scratching incessantly, their energy waned and they just didn't seem as perky as they had been. One person said it wasnít until their dogís stomach grew from being overweight that they realized there might be a problem with the dog food.


Dogs are mammals, just like us.  If we eat too much and donít exercise enough we are going to get fat. So it is with our dogs. If we eat food that is not good for us, we tend to feel lethargic and unmotivated afterwards. For us, unhealthy eating can cause a whole slew of problems from heart disease to diabetes. Poor nutrition can make our skin look unhealthy and our hair dull and brittle.


Dogs are no different. If they eat too much of the wrong food and donít get enough exercise they become overweight. If they eat food that is not good for them, they can become lazy.  What they eat can affect their coat and their skin.  Did you know that dogs can get most of the same diseases we do?  They can get cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid condition, diabetes and intestinal disorders. They can have strokes and heart attacks just like we can.  


This is why it's so important to understand why your dogís diet is so important.  Just like with us,  dogs are what they eat. Unfortunately, a dog can't tell you when something doesn't feel right,  or when they have an upset stomach from the food they ate. Most of us watch what we eat because of the health benefits that come with the effort, yet we don't always give our dogs the same consideration.


A dog's dietary needs are not that different from our own. They require the same vitamins and minerals as we do, just not in the same quantity. They require protein, carbohydrates and fats. Their stomachs work similar to ours with just a few differences.  Lack of exercise will leave us and our pets overweight and unhealthy. Obesity can bring on a whole range of problems.  


Dogs are just as prone to becoming overweight and suffer the side effects.