For some people, dogs rank right next to children in the hierarchy of family importance. Depending on your children, your dog may rank higher. You wouldn’t feed your family something you knew was harming them— shouldn’t the same practice apply to our pets? With almost 62 percent of United States’ homes housing a pet (according to the ASPCA), it is obvious that many of us appreciate the companionship offered by animals— and learning about their diet is a good way to show them we care.
The Importance of Diet
We all know that eating right equates to feeling good. When you eat healthier, you have more energy, an improved mood and you experience less illness. Recently, researchers have begun to consider whether the same applies to our furry companions.
Little Research, a Big Problem?
According to a study from Nutritional Research Reviews, little actual work has been done in determining the effects of diet on canine behavior. The authors of the study predict that many problem behaviors in dogs— such as aggression, barking and anxiety— could be addressed through diet.
The study’s authors conclude, though there is little research into canine diet, other animal studies indicate that nutrition does impact behavior. Rats, for instance, were less likely to kill mice if they were given enough tryptophan. With good research, it could be possible to address canine behavior through nutrition.
What We Do Know
The lack of official research has not stopped dog lovers from attempting to create the perfect dog food. The results of these efforts range from all-raw meat diets to vegetarian diets and everything in between. The common thread between all of these diets, though, is the inclusion of high-quality ingredients.
Because there has been no scientific consensus on the perfect dog diet, owners have been forced to experiment. Specialty food manufacturers provide the healthy, happy and long-lived dogs of their customers as evidence of the effectiveness of each diet. This leaves you (the dog owner) with the final decision on what you think is best for your dog.
Avoid the Cheap Stuff
According to Whole Dog Training, an entire host of behavioral problems can often be laid at the feet of cheap commercial dog food. Ingredients such as corn, a cheap protein filler in low-quality dog foods, do not have the necessary nutrients to keep your dog healthy.
What Diet Is Best?
Dogs appear to be pretty versatile omnivores; they just need good quality food. According to Living Green Magazine, the Guinness Book of World Records includes the oldest living dog: a Border Collie that lived for 27 years. The dog was fed a vegan diet with no meat or animal products.
Others argue that feeding a dog (an animal obviously designed to eat at least some meat) a vegetarian diet is ridiculous. Most veterinarians, according to ABC News, would never recommend a vegan diet for dogs.
It appears that there will be no consensus anytime soon on the perfect diet for a healthy, well-behaved pet. You, however, do not necessarily need to seek perfection. Simply doing some research and reading labels on your pet’s food is a great place to start. Provide clean water, plenty of pats on the back and happy trips to the park. Shop at trusted pet stores or websites, and feed them high-quality food for their furry tummies.
Trial and Error
In the end, the diet that works best for you and your pet will be determined through trial and error. Learn what to avoid and aim for a more wholesome approach. Then sit back and see how it works for your dog.
Question: What do you do to keep your dog healthy and happy? Please share your ideas here.