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Guest Lancelot Arnold

What Is The Guaranteed Analysis?

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Guest Lancelot Arnold

This listing, required on dog food labels, is intended to instill confidence in the product’s contents; however, it only gives you a percent approximation of what you are buying. It indicates maximum or minimum amounts of the substance in the food.

For example, if Crude Fiber is listed as “Not less than l0%”, you have no idea how much over 10% is actually in the diet; or if Crude Fat “Not less than 15%” is listed, does the diet contain 16% or 36%? So the Guaranteed Analysis helps, but not much.

Should I Feed Canned or Dry … or Both?

If dog owners had to choose one or the other, canned food or dry food, they should choose the dry. Canned food is generally 75% water, so 75% of your purchase price is going toward a non-nutritive ingredient that you can readily obtain from your own water faucet. Plus, there is an advantage to oral hygiene in the friction of the dry dog food, helping to keep the gums and teeth healthier than if the dog were eating only canned food.

The only time I recommend canned food is to someone who refuses to stop buying cheap dry food; the addition of canned food to a cheap dry food will generally improve the total diet. And just like the dry food, canned food has an ingredient list you can read to help guide your purchase decision. A dog being fed a high quality dry food does not require any canned food.

Semi-Moist Foods

I never recommend semi-moist foods. You know the ones … they’re wrapped in cellophane and look like meat and have names that give the impression they’re meaty. I often wonder why the manufacturers, if they want to associate these foods with meat, don’t put any meat in them! They do put lots of food coloring, soybean meal, sucrose and preservatives like propylene glycol in them, though! Forget about the semi-moist dog foods.

Table Scraps

Many of my clients, when I query them about what they feed their dog, will proudly offer this statement, “… but we never feed table scraps!” And I respond, “Why not?” Dogs can be fed many foods that people eat, but there are exceptions — such as the fact that some dogs are lactose intolerant, grapes on occasion can cause (kidney damage,) and overfeeding certain foods can create nutritional imbalances.

You, at home, could feed your dog a perfectly fine diet if you knew the right amounts of meats, vegetables, fruit, etc. to feed and in the proper ratios. But why bother when there are good diets already prepared for you by companies employing highly knowledgeable scientists with years of research backing them up?

Table scraps are perfectly acceptable to give to most dogs under certain conditions. And it is better to feed them to the dog than throw good food in the garbage. But you must remember that sudden changes in some dog’s diet may promote diarrhea, vomiting and in the instance of providing too much fat all of a sudden, pancreatitis.

Most dogs eat more consistently, are less finicky, and are less likely to have digestive tract upsets if they are fed consistently every day. If you choose to feed table scraps, try to do it on a fairly consistent basis.

I am not a proponent of feeding bones to dogs. For one thing there is almost no food value in bones (although there is plenty of good nutrition in the attached muscle and fat). Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself to see just how little food value there is in bones.

I’ve actually had clients brag to me how their dog “Eats ’em right up.” As dogs chew on them, animal bones are apt to splinter and if the dog swallows them, the dog may get into a situation requiring surgery to save its life. I have surgically removed bones and bone fragments from dog’s anatomy ranging from bones caught between the upper molars in the mouth to razor-like fragments from a lacerated rectum. Many dogs have died as a direct result of eating bones; if you feed your dog any kind of animal bones, you’re asking for trouble. Besides, there’s very little nutritive value to bones, they are NOT quickly digested by stomach acids, and there are infinitely better ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean!

Here are a few notes relative to “table scraps” or “people food”:

Dogs do not get worms from drinking milk! Loose stool is fairly common, though, due to the dog’s inability to break down lactose which is milk sugar.

Dogs do not get worms from eating candy. Chocolate, because it contains a caffeine-like chemical called theobromine, in large amounts can cause heart problems and other potentially dangerous effects.

Garlic is not an effective de-worming substance; there are much more effective wormers available. Scientific studies have recently proven that neither yeast nor garlic will repel fleas.

Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) female and (neutering) (castrating) male dogs does not cause them to “get fat”. In healthy dogs that are overweight the only reason they are overweight is that they are consuming more calories than they are burning up. Simply put … somebody’s feeding the dog too much!

“Hard bones are okay to feed, but never soft ones like chicken or turkey bones.” FORGET IT! NO bones of any kind, ever, if you want to avoid the chance ofobstructive digestive tract disorders.

Dogs manufacture their own vitamin C internally so it is not required in the diet. You can safely give dogs vitamin C, but please don’t believe all the stories about it curing hip dysplasia, arthritis, cancer, fleas, mange, cataracts, diabetes, allergies, etc. Dogs under stress of intense exercise, disease or aging may benefit from some supplementation.

Vitamin/mineral supplements for 99.9% of dogs are not required if the dog is on a high quality diet.In fact, providing extra calcium to large dogs on a proper diet will do harm. It is incorrect to give extra calcium just because “it’s growing up so fast.”

Dogs frequently develop allergies to corn, wheat, soy and other foods. Allergies are manifested usually by dry, itchy skin; reddened, swollen ears; itchy face and chin; compulsive licking of the paws. (Caution! These signs also are present when a dog has sarcoptic mites, so these parasites must be considered in any dog that seems to have a food allergy.) Vomiting and or diarrhea, meanwhile, may result if the dog develops food intolerances. Food allergies and intolerances can be a challenge for the veterinarian to properly diagnose.

Dietary deficiencies may take months to develop. I’ve seen dogs eating poor diets where it took 6 months before deficiencies became evident. Start feeding a high quality diet and you will see improvement in three weeks.

Many types of dermatological problems are avoided if the dog or cat is consuming an optimum diet. In some cases, adding a supplement such as an omega fatty acid is the key factor in avoiding repeated episodes of hot spots and other skin afflictions. If your dog or cat seems to lack good coat and skin health, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula and adding a dietary supplement.

How Much To Feed

Every bag of dog food will give a suggested amount to feed relative to your dog’s weight or breed. I’ll give you a helpful hint… don’t even bother to look at these suggestions. They’ll only confuse you since they are imprecise and vague.

Keep in mind that every dog is unique (no wonder I can’t find an “average” dog!) in it’s metabolic rate (how fast it burns up calories) and nutritional requirements. Whether you feed “free choice” by keeping some food in the bowl all the time or “restricted” or “portion controlled” by feeding a certain amount once or twice a day, the very best way to judge if you are feeding the right amount is to look at the dog. If it appears too thin for its breed (remember, some breeds such as Setters and sight-hounds are normally “thin”) then feed the dog more food. If the dog or puppy appears overweight, cut back on the amount fed.

Most dogs, probably 75%, if fed “free choice” will maintain optimum weight. The rest will become overweight and you, having complete control over what your dog consumes, will have to restrict the total amount of food intake to get that overweight dog back to a weight where it appears normal. To learn about weight loss, click here.

So the amount to feed varies with every dog. For example, you could have two dogs, each weighing 40 pounds, where one might require twice as much food as the other to maintain its weight at 40 pounds. So don’t look at the food label to tell you how much to feed, look at the dog!

Future Concepts

Strange to say but I believe we dog lovers will be going back to the future in properly feeding our canine friends. Going back to Nature by feeding meat-based foods and including what we term “table scraps” in dogs’ diets will surely be an improvement over some of the grain-based, cheap pet foods available today. Raw diets, frozen meat diets and home made diets are here today and will be even more popular in the future because dog owners will see the excellent results these more natural diets achieve.

This is NOT to say that commercial canned and dry foods are not good for dogs and cats, either. I have personally examined 20 year old dogs and cats that we never fed table scraps but were fed only a brand name dry or canned food. There will always be a deserved place for commercial dry and canned pet foods; I just hope that the high quality ones are most utilized.

In Summary

Use common sense. Read the labels. If you do those two things, you will certainly avoid the cheap, plant-based dog foods with the fancy labels that try to make you think you’re getting a good deal.

Remember … your dog’s health, more than any other single aspect, depends upon optimum nutrition.

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