Diet plan for dogs requires a proper balance of prescribed food and meal plans, that work with your body’s needs. Dieting for dogs can be simple if you have an older dog, but it can be more challenging with puppies. This is because puppies require very specific amounts of nutrients to help their bodies grow properly.
A Healthy Diet Plan for a Dog
Loving your dog means providing them with the best care possible. From grooming, doctor’s visits, and exercise, possibly one of the most important aspects of pet-care is their diet plan. For dogs, they require simple, yet nutritious diets that accompany their unique dietary needs and health concerns. So, depending on your individual dog’s circumstances, dietary needs will be somewhat different. Consulting your vet is a good first step in being sure to choose the proper diet.
Overfeeding is bad
Portion control is essential in maintaining your dog’s weight, or helping him lose or gain weight. Feeding instructions are based upon the dog’s natural, healthy weight and should be strictly followed. You should consult your veterinarian to find out what a healthy weight for your pet is. Exceeding the recommended portions can cause dogs to rapidly gain weight, which is not good for their bodies; it is hard on their joints and on their organs—especially their heart. Over-feeding your dog is doing him a disservice; it shortens life expectancy and diminishes their quality of existence. Only you have control over how much food your dog eats daily, so its best to have the facts. Make sure your dog is getting the correct amount of food per day, and come up with a feeding schedule that works for you.
Creating a Weight Reduction Plan for Dogs
Weight loss is tough for anyone – two- or four-legged! However, losing weight and getting in shape can not only add not years to your dog’s life, but it can also make those extra years more enjoyable. Helping your cuddly canine to shed a few pounds may be easier than you think. It simply requires a commitment to weight loss and fitness, attention to details, and the assistance of your veterinary healthcare team.
Why should my dog lose weight?
As few as five pounds above the ideal body weight can put your dog at risk for developing some serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, when a dog is overweight or obese it no longer is a question of if your dog will develop a condition secondary to the excess weight but how soon and how serious. Some of the common disorders associated with excess weight include:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- osteoarthritis (arthritis)
- increased frequency of joint injuries
- high blood pressure
- some forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers
Overweight and obese dogs usually have shorter lives than their fitter, normal weight counterparts. Heavy dogs tend to physically interact less with their families and are less energetic and playful. Because they tend to lie around more, it is easier to overlook early signs of illness, since we may attribute their lethargy to their normal laziness. There is good evidence that dogs who are a healthy weight live significantly longer than dogs who are overweight.
How should I begin a weight loss program for my dog?
Theoretically, weight loss seems simple enough: fewer calories in plus more calories out equals weight loss. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.
You should never put your dog on a diet without the assistance of your veterinary healthcare team. There may be an underlying medical condition that is causing or contributing to your dog’s excess weight. Some common diseases associated with weight gain include hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease). These diseases, along with others, should be eliminated as possible causes or contributors to your dog’s weight problem prior to beginning a diet. Too many dogs start on a diet and fail to lose weight simply because the diet was not the problem – a disease was. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and recommend blood tests to ensure that there are no obstacles to weight loss for your pet.
How much should I feed my dog to promote weight loss?
In order to answer this question, your veterinarian will need to calculate your dog’s ideal weight based on its breed and size. Based on your dog’s degree of excess weight, your veterinarian may recommend a target weight higher than the ideal weight to start. After the dog loses this weight, a re-evaluation will be made to determine whether further weight loss is needed. A safe weight loss for most dogs is 3-5% body weight loss per month.
The following chart provides general calorie requirements based on weight ranges:
|Ideal weight (lbs)||Calories (kcal) needed at 100% RER per day||Ideal weight (lbs)||Calories (kcal) needed at 100% RER per day|
Note: This is a general guideline only and is not meant as a substitute from your veterinarian’s specific recommendations.
For most dogs, feeding the RER calories should result in weight loss. In cases that fail to respond, the total number of calories will need to be reduced further.
For many dogs, the best way to feed will be by feeding a specific diet food in several meals per day. It is vital that you know how many calories are in the food that your dog is eating, and that you count the calories or measure the food when entering into a weight reduction program. Feeding too much will result in no weight loss and feeding too little can potentially result in serious health consequences associated with malnutrition.
“If you are using a weight loss diet obtained from your veterinarian, the calorie content of the food will be on the label.”
If you are using a reducing diet obtained from your veterinarian, the calorie content of the food will be on the label, and a member of your veterinary healthcare team will help you determine the appropriate amount to feed. If you choose to use an alternate source of food, and this information is not available on the label, you will need to contact the manufacturer to get it.
Here are my top 10 tips to improve your dog’s diet today…
1. Discard the marketing hype and take the label test
No matter how entertaining, relying on advertisements for nutritional information is not ideal.
Why? Because the people that produce the ads didn’t formulate the food. Their job is to make even the worst products appear healthy.
Carefully examining the labels on your dog’s food and treats will help you make more informed purchases.
Product labels always list the ingredients in order, from the largest to the smallest.
Google-search each of the first five ingredients. First, type in each ingredient followed by “bad for dogs” and then “good for dogs.” The results may surprise you. When you start researching, you’ll soon see why I’m against prescription foods sold by vets.
They may suit a diagnosed condition but can cause many other problems (and that’s not even taking into account the cooking processes or packaging).
Discuss the ingredients with the person or company recommending the products. If they can’t explain what each ingredient is, its source, why and how it’s good for dogs, then rely on your own research and judgment.
2. Avoid feeding shelf-stable foods as a staple diet
Thanks to clever marketing, the average consumer often overlooks the alarming reasons why processed food has a 12 to 24 month shelf life.
Marketing has conditioned us to believe that shelf-stable foods provide everything dogs need to live long and healthy lives.
Actually, the opposite is true. While there will always be the rare exception to the rule, don’t count on your dog being one of them.
Shelf-stable products have no live enzymes due to their industrial cooking processes.
They’re dead foods that rely on synthetic supplementation to meet the supposedly “balanced” nutritional standards set out by AAFCO.
My gripe with these products is not that they exist, but the way they’re marketed … as a staple, daily diet.
After all, if we could pack all the nutrition the body needs for optimum health into a pellet or a can, then there would be thousands of companies out there producing human “food” and promoting it as a staple diet.
Biscuits, kibble and canned foods have their place – in shelters, charities, on long trips, or on occasions when we’re pressed for time – but they should not be fed as a staple diet.
3. Introduce fresh whole foods
Fresh whole foods such as vegetables and fruit are full of live enzymes and will add a new dimension to your dog’s health.
Whole foods are also full of fiber, which aids digestion, encourages pooping and improves stools.
Many of the nutrients are destroyed by the cooking processes that create shelf-stable foods. So the manufacturers add synthetic nutrients back into the products.
These nutrients are synthetic imitations of those found in nature … and this is the vast difference between whole foods and industrially-produced foods.
Unlike most synthetic nutrients, whole foods contain nutritional co-factors that work synergistically to help the body absorb, assimilate and make use of nutrients.
You are not simply what you eat, but more importantly, you are what you can absorb.
Do your own research on safe whole foods for dogs.
There are certain fruits and vegetables that dogs must avoid; also, you’ll be amazed at which parts of the vegetables are the most nutritious. For example, broccoli stems contain more nutrients than the head, and beetroot leaves are full of goodness.
Puree vegetables for maximum nutrient absorption or feed whole as a bone substitute for teeth and gum maintenance.
4. Feed a variety of ingredients rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation is a major cause of disease so it’s important to research all ingredients in your dog’s diet, along with the manufacturing processes.
Inflammation is the leading cause of premature aging, not only in dogs, but in people, too.
As you’re probably now aware, processed commercial foods are inherently inflammatory. Pancreatitis and arthritis are common when you feed processed food too often.
If you must use commercial food it’s best to at least offset its ill effects by adding naturally anti-inflammatory whole foods into the mix.
Whole foods high in antioxidants also help reduce inflammation in the body.
Keep your dog young and healthy by feeding a variety of whole foods that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
5. Avoid cooking meats
All species on the planet eat raw food except for humans.
When we cook our food to please our palates, we lose many beneficial nutrients.
It’s the same when we cook food for our dogs. While certain whole foods may release more nutrients once cooked, it’s best to avoid cooking meat for your dog whenever possible.
Irrespective of the stated nutritional values, here’s one of many reasons why commercial pet foods are fundamentally flawed.
According to Michael Greger MD:
“When the muscles of mammals, fish, or birds are cooked at high temperatures. carcinogenic chemicals called heterocyclic amines are created that may increase the risk of breast, colon, lung, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. Risky cooking methods don’t just include barbecuing. frying and grilling. Even just baking chicken at around 350 degrees F for 15 minutes leads to significant production of these cancer-causing compounds.”
If you prefer to cook meat for your dog, just lightly sear it instead of cooking it through.
6. Use certified organic vegetables and fruit when possible
Many of the non-organic fruit and vegetables on the market are genetically modified, and with no labeling laws in place it’s impossible to know exactly what we and our dogs are eating.
Although approved for human consumption, evidence suggests that genetically modified foods are not safe.
If you’re concerned for the wellbeing of your family and pets, I encourage you to investigate the GMO issue for yourself.
“The process of genetic engineering can disrupt the functioning of the DNA in dramatic ways – it can turn genes off, permanently turn them on, change their levels of expression, and create all sorts of unpredicted allergies, toxins, carcinogens, nutrient problems etc.”Jeffrey Smith, Author, Seeds of Deception
Dogs’ lifespans are typically about one-eighth the length of human lifespans.
The health problems we see emerging in dogs exposed to GM foods today will no doubt be seen in people in many years to come.
Findings show that 5th and 6th generation offspring of lab mice are affected by the genetically modified food consumed by their ancestors.
7. Wash non-organic produce in apple cider vinegar
We can’t always afford or find organic produce so we have to make what we can get safer.
Plants produce allelochemicals, which help prevent toxic substances including pesticides from penetrating their surface.
You can scrub the pesticides off non-organic fruit and vegetables with a clean soft brush while soaking them in one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water for a minute, then rinsing.
8. Avoid gluten
Have you ever joked about how smelly your dog’s farts and poops are?
Many dry pet foods contain gluten meal. This dried residue made from corn is added to pet food to prevent inferior, unstable fats from becoming rancid; this causes waste products to be retained and can strain the liver and kidneys.
Corn gluten even in small quantities may harm your dog’s organs; to make matters worse, GMO corn is often used in pet food.
9. Replace rice with organic green lentils
Dogs don’t need grains at all to be healthy. They don’t eat them in the wild, and most are allergic to wheat.
When a dog has an upset tummy it baffles me why many vets still recommend boiled chicken and rice. Even commercial “grain free” dog foods typically contain grains.
A great protein-rich substitute is green lentils. Just like rice, green lentils require boiling, so your preparation time is similar.
It’s best to soak them first and rinse before cooking, then rinse again after cooking.
Lentils are one of the most nutritionally valuable leguminous plants. Lentils:
- Have the highest protein content.
- Are rich in fiber and minerals, particularly iron and magnesium.
- Rich in lysine, an essential amino acid that can help boost the immune system. It can prevent and treat cold sores, herpes and shingles in humans. Athletes also take it to improve performance.
Caution: Legumes can be high in glyphosate. So always choose organic, GMO-free lentils.
10. Add MCT oil as a source of fat
Unlike animal fats and other vegetable fats, MCT oil is truly unique.
MCT oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that the body doesn’t store.
- Fuel the brain, supporting cognitive function
- Reduce seizures
- Help with weight loss
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Are antimicrobial and antibacterial
When you buy MCT oil, make sure you choose one that doesn’t contain lauric acid.
Note: you will still need to provide your dog with a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Since fish oils can turn rancid very easily, consider sources of Omega-3 oils like chia seed, flaxseed or hempseed.
You can also add small amounts of (preferably fresh) sardines.