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Holistic Dog Food

What your dog eats affects every aspect of his health and well being. There are many choices available for dog food, and one increasingly popular choice is “holistic” dog food.

Read customer and expert reviews of dog food here icon

Ordinary Dog Food vs. Holistic Dog Food

There are several reasons many pet owners choose holistic food for their dog. Some commercial dog foods on the market include:

– Poor protein sources. Protein is crucial to your dog’s health, yet “weak” sources, such as soybean meal, corn glutens, corn meal, whole corn, and ground or crushed corn are used in many dog foods. While dogs do need some grains, often commercial dog foods also use grains as a substitute for meat.

– Chemical preservatives. Some scientific studies have shown that BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are found in many dog foods and may promote liver disease and other medical problems.

– By products, which include animal necks, heads, feet, intestines, undeveloped eggs, lungs, spleen, and liver. Since dogs would be eating such animal parts in the wild, this may not be of too great a concern. However, some pet foods have even been found to contain Pentobarbital, which is a chemical used to euthanize animals.

– Food coloring. This is added to many dog foods in order to make the product more appealing to humans.

Holistic dog food on the other hand contains none of these things and instead offers:

– Higher quality protein sources, which come from actual, high quality meat.
– Natural preservatives only.
– No by products.
– No food coloring.

Your Dog May Be the Best Indicator

Experts say that your dog may be able to tell you if his food is all wrong. If your dog:

– Doesn’t want to eat his food
– Has large, smelly stools
– Has gas
– Has brown teeth
– Has smelly breath
– Burps frequently
– Sheds excessively
– Has a dull coat
– Has a smelly coat
– Gets ear and/or skin infections frequently
– Is lethargic

Then you should take a critical look at his diet.

The Need for Meat and More

Dogs are carnivores. They cannot live healthy lives without eating meat. Your dog’s teeth are designed for tearing apart meat and his stomach is built to break down meat into important nutrients.

All dogs need:

– Protein (from meat)
– A low amount of carbohydrates
– Fat (both saturated and polyunsaturated, coming from animal fats and vegetable oils)
– Vitamins
– Minerals
– Plenty of water

Protein Deficiencies:

Protein deficiencies are common among dogs. Some of the symptoms may include:

– Chronic skin and/or ear infections.
– Aggression
– Timidity
– Excessive shedding
– Crooked whiskers
– Diarrhea
– Vomiting
– Lack of appetite or poor appetite
– A compromised immune system

Truly holistic dog foods are high in quality meat protein, thereby making your dog’s chances for developing a protein deficiency very low.

Vitamin Deficiencies and Excesses:

Dogs need vitamin A, D, E, K, B1 (thiamin), Riboflavin, B6, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B12, and Folic Acid. Some of the more common signs of vitamin imbalances found in dogs include:

– Not enough vitamin A may lead to weight loss, corneal disorders, skin lesions, respiratory ailments, and increased susceptibility to infection. Too much A leads to dehydration, central nervous system depression, and joint pain.

– Not enough vitamin D leads to rickets, lethargy, loss of muscle tone, bone swelling and bending. Too much D leads to general weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, calcification of soft tissue, excessive mineralization of long bones, dehydration, and brittle hair.

– Not enough vitamin E leads to degeneration of skeletal muscles, infertility, and retinal degeneration.

– Not enough B1 leads to stunted growth, weight loss, and neurological abnormalities in puppies; it also leads to damaged hearts and nervous systems in adult dogs.

– Not enough Riboflavin may lead to weight loss, muscular weakness, flaking skin, and eye lesions.

– Not enough B6 leads to weight loss in puppies; convulsions, muscle twitching, and anemia in adult dogs. Too much may lead to poor motor control and balance.

– Not enough Niacin may lead to weight loss, inflammation of the mouth, cheeks, and throat, excessive salivation, and bloody diarrhea. Too much niacin leads to bloody feces, and convulsions.

– Not enough Pantothenic Acid leads to sudden coma, rapid respiratory and heart rates, convulsions, gastrointestinal symptoms, and reduced antibody production.

– Not enough B12 leads to appetite loss, lack of white blood cells, anemia, and bone marrow changes.

– Not enough folic acid leads to weight loss and a decline in hemoglobin concentration.

Many dog foods are manufactured so poorly; vitamins must be added to them in supplement form. However, once the dog food is cooked down or heated, packaged, and sold, most of these added vitamins have been lost. On the other hand, a good holistic dog food provides the correct level of vitamins.

Mineral Deficiencies and Excesses

Minerals only make up 2% of a dog’s diet, but in order to stay healthy, dogs need calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine. Signs of an imbalance frequently found in dogs include:

– Not enough calcium can lead to secondary hyperparathyroidism, and decreases in bone mineral content. Too much calcium leads to skeletal aberrations, particularly in large breed puppies.

– Not enough phosphorus leads to reduced weight gain, poor appetite, and bowing and swelling of forelimbs in puppies.

– Not enough magnesium may lead to weight loss, irritability, and convulsions in puppies, and hyperextension of carpal joints and hind-leg paralysis later life.

– Not enough sodium leads to restlessness, increased heart rate, water intake and hemoglobin concentration; dry and tacky mucous membranes.

– Not enough potassium may lead to restlessness in puppies, paralysis of neck muscles and rear legs in adult dogs.

– Not enough chlorine leads to reduced weight gain and weakness in puppies.

– Not enough iron leads to poor growth, pale mucous membranes, lethargy, weakness, and diarrhea. Too much leads to gastrointestinal and tissue damage.

– Not enough copper may lead to loss of hair pigmentation in puppies, and anemia in adult dogs.

– Not enough zinc leads to vomiting and skin lesions.

– Not enough selenium may lead to weight loss, coma, and muscular degeneration.

– Not enough iodine leads to enlargement of the thyroid glands, and dry and/or thin hair. Too much leads to excessive tearing, salivation, nasal discharge and dandruff.

Experts say that 50 to 80% of minerals are lost in the process of making commercial dog food. Good quality holistic blend dog food provides more minerals than is found in many commercial dog foods, therefore you don’t need to give your pet supplements.

Some Other Things to Look For:

There is some debate about just how much protein, grain, vegetable, etc. should be found in dog food, but here are some guidelines:

Look for a brand that is no more than 50% grains. (Ideally, these grains should be boiled or steamed, since this imitates the partially-digested grains a wild dog would find in an animal’s stomach.) Brown rice is often considered the best grain for dogs.

Vegetables should be about 25% of the food.

Protein (from meat sources) should be at least 25%.

When you study the label on a dog food package, be sure to notice where the protein is coming from. Is it from quality meat? Or from something else, which is less healthy for your dog!

Legally, ingredients must be listed from largest amount to smallest amount. Most dog foods list grains long before meat, but most proponents of holistic dog food believe meat should be the number one ingredient in any decent dog food.

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