Your dog is what it eats - a monthly column written by Lincs Training expert Helen Vaitkevicieus
The old adage “You are what you eat” applies to our canine friends as well as us. Choosing a well-balanced nutritional diet for your dog is very important, not only for the correct growth of puppies but because it can also alter their mood and behaviour.
The required protein levels for puppies 0-4 months is 28 per cent; 4-12 months is 22 per cent and from 12 months only 18 per cent. Low quality protein, preservatives and artificial colourings should be avoided, as they only create potential nutritional and behavioural problems and affect temperament and attitude.
It is vital to follow the correct daily allowance for the age and breed of your dog to prevent obesity, lethargy and the animal becoming unresponsive. The normal daily allowance is generally indicated on the packaging of the food.
Remember, if you own a working dog like a husky, German shepherd, collie or the like and they are a companion dog rather than being worked and are only walked once or twice a day, they do not need a working dog diet because all that extra unburned energy the food provides could give rise to excessive activity and possible bad behaviour.
The diet you choose for your dog can be a complete dry (meaning nothing needs to be added, except water) raw or home-made. A supply of fresh water should also always be available. If your dog is overactive or unresponsive, it may be down to its diet. If you are unsure, seek professional unbiased advice and also try a bit of the food - if you wouldn’t eat it, why would your dog?
Special diets that are recommended by a canine nutritionist for food intolerances to certain ingredients can help with allergies, as well as diet manipulation to alter some aggression over reactivity, separation problems or hyperactivity responses displayed by your pet.
Chewing problems in dogs can be relieved by giving an Antler or a Kong toy with frozen natural yogurt inside or a sterilised bone, providing this is suitable for their age. This offers the dog a natural behaviour outlet for them which can also relieve stress. Kongs are available in different sizes.
Finally, treats. We all like to spoil our furry friends, we all like to give to our dogs little extras. However, please read the contents for high protein levels, colouring, artificial flavouring and derivatives and avoid these at all costs.
Keep away from hide bones and other hide chews, as these are manufactured using toxic chemicals, residues of which may build up in your dog. Good alternatives are sweet potato treats, small amounts of apple and pear or a whole raw carrot or other vegetables.