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It goes without saying that your dog needs suitable nutrition to remain healthy. Vets and pet food manufacturers often have differing views on appropriate nutrition for your dog. Although commercial pet food manufacturers are motivated in large part by profits, commercially prepared foods are routinely recommended as part of an adequate, or good, diet for your dog. Sometimes your vet or dog breeder may approve of commercially prepared foods as your dog's sole diet. Many experts, however, tend to prefer a largely natural diet which for dogs is invariably comprised of meat and bones. Raw is preferable to cooked, as some of the minerals are definitely lost in the cooking process.
The reason why the commercially prepared pet food is so often fed to our dogs, is because, apart from the convenience, it can (depending upon the quality) actually contain many of the nutrients which are essential to your dog's wellbeing. The key word here is quality. There are in fact very, very few commercial manufacturers which produce nutrient-rich food. And they're not the brands you find in your supermarket, or even in most pet stores or vetinarians.
Raw bones with a little dry food as well as occasional rice or pasta, and perhaps the odd quality food scrap from your table, will generally contain most of the nutrients which your dog needs.
All dogs must obtain reasonable nutrition from their food to maintain excellent health and performance. The main nutrients required by your dog are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Vitamin or mineral deficiency in dogs fed a commercially manufactured diet today is not widely publicised. But then again, the slosh and dried formulae which are readily available from your vet or the local supermarket are not your dog's natural diet. If your dog was left to fend for itself in the wild (assuming it could manage to adapt, that is), would choose raw meat. And one of the reasons why meat, and especially bones, are so good, is the chewing action and the teeth cleaning function which the bones perform. Of course, there are also commercially prepared substitutes which can also effectively clean your dog's teeth and satisfy his/her need to chew.
A lesser known fact is that to feed your dog only meat (with no bones and no cereals or other carbohydrate source) can cause severe deficiencies: your dog is likely to become lethargic, sick, and even death has been known to occur from an all meat diet. But what about dogs in the wild, I hear you ask? Isn't meat a dog's natural diet? Isn't that what you just said, Brigitte? Well, yes and no: in the wild dogs eat the whole of their prey, not simply muscle meat - they thus obtain vegetable matter from the digestive tract of their prey, and calcium from the bones. As well, wild dogs occasionally, but routinely, add to their diet with plants, fruit and berries.
Most dogs relish some raw fruit and vegetables in their diet, so long as that's what they're used to. A dog who has been fed commercially prepared dog food all of its life won't be used to the taste of fresh food, so may well turn up his/her nose if you introduce such healthy food later in life. But persevere - try hand feeding pieces of carrot or apple to begin with. And if your dog is still very young, all the better. Start as you mean to go on and feed him/her some raw fruit and vegetables from time to time. Your dog's health will benefit!
(c) 2004, Brigitte Smith, Healthy Happy Dogs
Brigitte Smith is a dog lover with a special interest in natural health for dogs. For your free special report, as well as weekly tips, information, strategies and resources for a healthier happier dog, go to http://www.HealthyHappyDogs.com and submit your name and email address. Take a look around the site - http://www.HealthyHappyDogs.com - while you're there - you'll find lots of useful information.
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