Just like humans, many dogs suffer from poor nutrition and obesity. Not feeding your dog properly can lead to several health issues. Obesity can lead to canine diabetes and problems with the heart, liver, and joints. Not only should you be eliminating table scraps from your dog’s diet, you need to ensure that the dog food you do feed him is full of vitamins and minerals to provide energy and promote healthy growth.
Providing your dog with the proper nutrients can mean a healthier dog and hopefully less trips to the vet and a cheaper pet insurance plan. There are six essential nutrients that every dog needs. The first is water. (Yes! Water is a nutrient!) Water makes up 60-70% of an adult dog’s body weight. Although pet food does contain water, a dog still needs fresh water available at all times. A 10% decrease in water can lead to serious illnesses and a 15% decrease can lead to death.
The next nutrient is protein. Proteins provide energy and are building blocks for cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Chicken, lamb, beef, eggs, and fish are all good sources of protein. Protein can also be found in vegetables, cereals, and soy, but these sources do not contain ample amounts.
Carbohydrates also provide energy for the body. Fiber is one type of carbohydrate that will help your dog’s digestive system.
Fats give your dog twice as much energy as proteins or carbohydrates. Fats are needed to produce certain hormones and they are essential for cell structures. Fats also provide insulation and protect the organs. Fat is not produced in sufficient amounts by the body and therefore, must be a part of your dog’s diet. However, too much fat can lead to trouble, just like in humans. You need to carefully monitor how much fat is in your dog’s diet.
Vitamins are necessary for enzyme reactions. Vitamins are found in dog food and therefore, you shouldn’t give your dog vitamin supplements unless your veterinarian recommends that you do.
Lastly, minerals are important for healthy bone and teeth structure.
Now that you know what should be in your dog’s diet, you have to be aware of how much food you are feeding your dog. Obesity occurs when the dog is taking in more calories than energy it is using, and the body stores this as fat. Specific breeds, such as labs and pugs, are more prone to weight gain, as well as older dogs. You should be able to feel the backbone and ribs of a healthy dog and see a noticeable waist – otherwise you’ll need to check if your pet insurance covers obesity. Even after cutting back your dog’s food, he can still remain obese.
If your dog is obese, it’s important to talk to your vet about possible treatment methods. Essentially, the dog will need a better diet and more exercise. However, if the excessive weight has led to other ailments, now would be a good time to invest in dog insurance. Depending on the problem, medication and frequent trips to the vet will become common. Pet health insurance can cover many of these costs.