Last time I discussed how poor canine nutrition contributes to skin problems and the high cancer rate in dogs. This column continues that discussion.
Readers will recall I was chagrined to learn the kibble I was feeding my dogs was literally junk food. I added canned beef, which helped, but the kibble – a famous brand found in every supermarket – contained almost no nutrition.
In addition, the cheap ingredients often caused allergies in my dogs, some minor, some more serious. I was wasting money and shorting my dogs so I set out to learn all I could about dry dog food.
I spoke with vets and nutritionists and searched the web for information. I found the three sites I listed in my last column and used them as a guide to find a brand of kibble to ensure the health of my pack.
Those three sites saved me months of work.
I decided on a brand called 4Health, the house brand at Tractor Supply (I buy all products myself and do not accept gifts from any company). It’s packed with nutrition, is highly recommended by users, and costs only pennies more than the inferior brand. I chose the Salmon-Sweet Potato blend.
I made two other changes. I added a tablespoon of oil per day to each dog’s food, using olive oil for four dogs and canola oil for the other four as a test. I also added 2,000 mg of fish oil daily for each dog to get the benefit of the omega 3.
After two months I saw improvement in every dog. Their coats were thicker and softer and their skin healthier, so I made the change permanent.
Now, a year later, all the dogs eat less, yet get more nutrition. All appear to have more muscle and less fat. Because they eat a smaller volume I spend the same amount of money, yet the dogs get more nutrition.
Two of my dogs who suffered constant itchy, red spots on their skin no longer have them. Rocky, my oldest dog, who was having some joint problems due to allergies, no longer limps.
I saw no difference between the dogs getting olive oil and canola oil, so they now all get canola oil.
In addition, I cook extra pasta and vegetables when I prepare my own food so I have plenty left over to add to the pack’s food.
I advise all dog owners to evaluate the kibble you are using to see if it is as bad as the one I used. If it is, switch to a high-quality one. You won’t see miracles overnight, but over time your dog will prosper. If your dog is having skin problems, consider adding the oil and omega 3.
Any time you change a dog’s diet, slowly blend in the new food over several days – 10 percent new day one and two, 20 percent day three, 30 percent day four, 50 percent day five, 80 percent day six, 100 percent after that. Most dogs get sick if their food is changed all at once.
The subject of proper nutrition for your dog is so important I will continue to monitor it and report back every few months.
A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.