Healthspan March 16, 2018

Once upon a time, dog owners would have served up their dog a bowl of biscuits every morning and evening and thought nothing more of it.

These days, much like we’ve become more concerned with what we put in our own bodies, we’re also applying the same principles to our pet’s food. With a better understanding of the nutrients our dogs need and knowledge of how they might also be affected by intolerances, there’s a little more to meal times. Here’s some insight into some of the latest food trends to help you go from having a dog that’s hard to please to feeding with ease.

Limited ingredient diet

Originally created for pets with food allergies, limited ingredient foods can vary from brand to brand. In general though they have a reduced number of ingredients; for example they might only contain one meat source or one carbohydrate source. The most important thing to check with a limited ingredient diet is that it provides a balance of all the nutrients your dog needs. If you suspect your pet has an intolerance consult your vet before administering a new diet to ensure you’re cutting out the right thing and no other underlying medical issues are to blame.

Grain-free

Grain or gluten free diets have become very popular for dogs. As pet owners we often like to make the same choices for our pets as we do for ourselves, so with 22% of us now buying gluten-free foods it’s no wonder this has also impacted the variety of pet foods available. The truth is that most dogs do not need a grain-free diet. Although their ancestors probably didn’t have grains in their diet, studies show they can digest them well, usually causing no harm. Of course, every dog is individual so there are exceptions – it is well known that Irish Setters are prone to an inherited condition which makes them intolerant to gluten so this type of diet could be beneficial.

Organic

Like human foods it is generally thought that the nutritional value of organic food is greater. Naturally the absence of chemicals and pesticides can make organic pet foods more easily digestible. However, as always it is important to compare pet foods and ensure that your pet is getting a balanced diet complete with the nutrients it needs regardless of how it’s made or where it comes from.

Vegetarian

Naturally if owners are vegetarians themselves, they might prefer to apply the same rule to their pet’s diet. This has been the source of much controversy and should always be discussed with your vet who can make the best recommendations for your own pet. In general, the controversy centres around the difficulty of providing a pet with the adequate nutrients they need without feeding them meat. Inadequate protein intake, limited fatty acids or deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can all cause long-term effects so should be managed carefully.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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