I want to start cooking for my dog and get him off commercial diets. Any advice?

Preparing a diet at home for your dog can be a rewarding task, but caution must be taken to do so correctly. Home-prepared diets tend to be highly digestible and can provide high-quality nutrition. However, home-prepared diets can be more expensive, can provide variable nutrition, and take considerable time and care to ensure they are adequate for your dog’s health.

 

Dogs are omnivores and require a diet that consists of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water in correct proportions. …

Nutrients Required by Dogs

A nutrient is a chemical or substance that an animal requires to live and grow. Nutrients can be found in food, synthesized in the body, or taken in from the environment. Nutrients that must be consumed in the diet because the animal cannot produce them or cannot produce them in sufficient quantities are considered essential nutrients. Those the animal can synthesize to meet its needs or does not need from its diet are considered nonessential nutrients.

All animals …

Feeding the Growing Puppy

Introduction

Puppies grow rapidly during the first six months of their lives and have a large demand for nutrients to meet their changing needs. Diet selection and feeding regimen during this time are critical. Most puppies are fully weaned between seven and nine weeks of age and may enter a new home at this time. When bringing a new puppy into your home, make sure you find out what food your breeder or the previous owner used so you can …

Nutrition for Exercising Dogs: Timing of Meals

Dogs engage in various types of exercise. This may include structured training, such as for obedience, as well as participation in competitive events such as fly ball and agility. This may also include routine exercise such as running, walking, and swimming. Because exercise is stressful and can disrupt a dog’s gastrointestinal tract function, it is important to consider when and how much to feed an exercising dog. The timing of the meal is especially important as it may decrease the …

Pet Food Labels: Terms Used to Describe Pet Food Types

There are a variety of terms used on pet food labels that appear to indicate the quality of the product. These terms are primarily used on dog and cat food labels, but may apply to other companion animal foods as well. Terms such as “generic,” “premium,” and even “super premium” are among those commonly used, as are “natural,” “holistic,” “organic,” and “grain-free.” But what do these terms really mean? Often, the definition is unclear even to pet food experts. This …

Weight-Control Diets for Dogs and Cats: Reading the Label

kitty

When choosing a weight-control or low-calorie pet food, pet owners are faced with a large number of products and product types. Understanding what products are best for your dog or cat can be confusing. Evaluating product calorie and nutrient content, as well as pricing, are important in choosing the correct diet.

One challenge is that the weight-control diets available represent a wide range of calorie concentrations and recommended calorie intakes for dog and cat weight-control diets. For example, one published …

Diabetes in Dogs

Introduction

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic, or long-term, disorder that occurs in both dogs and cats. Diabetes affects approximately one in 150 dogs. The number of cases has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, but the mortality (death) rates have dropped at the same time. This is due to a better understanding of the disease, early diagnosis, and improved treatment.

The disease is characterized by insufficient production of the hormone insulin or a decreased response to insulin in the …

Pet Food Labels: Guaranteed Analysis

Guaranteed AnalysisGuaranteed Analysis

The guaranteed analysis can be found on the information panel of a pet food label. This portion of the label provides the nutrient composition of the diet. It is required to include the minimum percentage of crude protein and crude fat as well as the maximum percentage of crude fiber and moisture. The “crude” term indicates that the methods for determining nutrient concentrations provide a rough estimate of quantity; it does not refer to the quality of the nutrients themselves. …

Pet Food Labels: Nutritional Adequacy Statement

AAFCO Statement

One of the most important items to look for on the information panel is the “Nutritional Adequacy Statement.” This statement provides the guarantee that the pet food is complete and balanced for the animal for which it is intended. All commercial pet foods are required to be nutritionally complete and balanced. By being complete, it means all the nutrients that are required by the animal to meet its daily needs are included in adequate amounts; balanced means that the nutrients …

Body Condition Scoring Your Dog

Sheep guarding dog

More than half the dogs in the United States are not at their ideal body weight. Obesity is a common concern and can result in health issues such as diabetes, joint disease, and stress on internal organs. At the same time, underweight dogs may be more prone to illness as well. One way to determine if your dog is at the ideal weight is to monitor its body condition score (BCS).

BCS is a way to visually evaluate your dog’s …