Growing up, we always had dogs and other pets. I considered these pets to be a part of the family.
That said, it was not long before I realized while looking into my dog’s eyes that dogs are people too – they have both emotional and physical needs. Physically speaking, our dogs may present ailments such as an upset stomach or an ear infection, both of which may require a visit to the veterinarian. Emotionally, dogs can develop separation anxiety, or even depression when they are not provided with enough attention from their owners. To keep our dogs looking at their best, we must bring them to a groomer – similar to how humans go to a hair salon or spa.
Working as a nutritionist, I realized that I would like to expand on my nutritional knowledge by sharing advice that I have used on my own German shepherd, as well as some of my friends’ dogs. Further, I wanted to address each dog’s food allergies, and make sure that they were getting proper nutrients through a perfectly balanced diet. As I more deeply examined this realm of “pet nutrition” I realized that many of our dogs have various health issues – ranging from them merely being overweight, to even having diabetes. In fact, obesity within dogs is more common than what you would think. As a matter of fact, dogs are susceptible to many of the diseases that humans get as well. Is the American diet also affecting Fido? Can mere table scraps, combined with poor quality dog food, be causing changes in our pet’s health?
Check out the following Dellonutritional health tips for dogs:
1-Maintain a healthy weight : Over-feeding is the #1 culprit for obesity in dogs. Pet parents often don’t realize how much their dog is being fed, which is the perfect recipe for over feeding. Keep your dogs on consistent feeding schedules, and limit table scraps.
2-Schedule occasional physical examinations at the vet: They can check for heart murmurs, lumps and infections.
3-Read Labels: “You are what you eat.” This applies to dogs as well. Some dog food brands contain undesirable chemicals, preservatives, and other things you would never want to feed your dog.
4-Play time: It is essential to walk your dog four times a day. Dogs need to stay active. Don’t be afraid to mix up their activities sometimes. Regularly exercising them will alleviate anxiety, leading to less behavioral issues.
5-Hygiene: Regularly bathing our dogs will not only keep them cleaner but will also help with any skin issues they may have. Even further, you could put a few drops of lavender in their bath water to soothe them.
6-Hydrate: It is too often that I see dog owners take their pets for long walks without bringing water for them to sip on. Like humans, dogs can suffer from heat strokes. Always bring an extra water bottle, Fido needs some too. I would consider giving them filtered or bottled water, never tap.
7-Keep track of their whereabouts: Always keep your dog secure in its rightful place. You may notice that our social media feeds are flooded with lost dog notices. To combat this, your dog should be wearing a name tag with your contact information on it. If you so choose, you may even purchase a tracking collar for your dog (or microchip them).
8-Love: Shower them with love and affection constantly. Spend as much time as possible with your fur baby – they even like when you talk to them (it improves their wellbeing).
9-Holistic approach: Historically, dogs are living longer because of modern medicine. However, it does not have to stop there, as you can adopt a more holistic approach which could include methods such as acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, massage therapy, vitamin therapy, or even underwater treadmill therapy for rehabilitation.
10-Nutrition: Invest in high quality foods and keep track of any allergies that your dog may have. I like to give my German shepherd lamb, fish, sweet potatoes, and brown rice; and I will pick a high-quality dry food for his evening meal. Like humans they can get tired of certain foods. Avoid any foods with words that you cannot pronounce – chances are it will not be good for them.
11-Know your dog: Know the common characteristics of your dog’s breed, along with their own personal quirks. Study their normal behavior, so you can identify when they are acting abnormally. Socializing your dog at a young age is key for proper behavior.
12-Vitamins: Ask your vet about vitamins. Consider fish oil for healthy coats and cardiovascular health, glucosamine, and chondroitin to fight joint issues in older dogs, B12 for energy, and probiotics to promote gut health. Quality counts when it comes to vitamins: read the label, or alternatively you can also see our website for recommendations.
13-Beware of these foods: Xylitol, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, onions, garlic, grapes, citrus fruits, raisins, and macadamia nuts.
14-Start training early: When a new puppy arrives, it is essential to start training. I would suggest starting with crate training and potty training.
15-Find a proper trainer: It is crucial to incorporate basic obedience training commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and recall. Additionally, a trainer can help with walking on a leash, and teaching your puppy good manners.
For more information visit our website www.Dellonutritionals.com, call 516-365-1222, or follow the pet page Dellonutritionals on Facebook.
—Submitted by Maria Dello, a local nutritionist and a 15-year contributor to the Manhasset Press.