Providing dogs with vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional components is important to their health and well-being. The best way to do so is by feeding a high-quality complete and balanced diet. Supplementing dog food often upsets the balance and may lead to a variety of health problems.
Reasons Why People Might Supplement Their Dog's Diet
People supplement their dog's diet for different reasons. Some of these reasons might include:
- To increase palatability or add variety
- To feel assured the dog is receiving complete nutrition
- To enjoy a larger role in "preparing" the dog's meal
Supplementing Can Unbalance the Diet
It is important for concerned pet owners to realize that a quality dog food is carefully formulated to meet the caloric needs of the animal. In addition, the food provides the essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals specific to the nutritional requirements of dogs. Quality foods are complete and balanced for a specific life stage or lifestyle. By adding table scraps or other supplements, the delicate nutrient balance can be disrupted.
What We Know About Minerals and Supplements
The interaction between different minerals is very complex. Fortunately, this is an area of nutrition that has been the focus of extensive research throughout many years. Research has shown that not only are the individual levels of minerals in a diet important, but so is the proper balance. An excess of one mineral may affect the absorption of a second, and lead to a deficiency in that second mineral.
Supplementing with Meat As An Example of Mineral Interaction
One common supplement is feeding additional meat. However, because meat contains 20 to 40 times more phosphorus than calcium, adding meat to a balanced diet will upset the calcium to phosphorus (or Ca:P) ratio, which is important for proper bone development and maintenance. This may prompt the animal's body to absorb calcium from the bones in order to reach the right balance. This is often the case in older animals that experience tooth loss due to the resorption of bone from the lower jaw. Ca:P ratio should range between 1.1 to 1.4 parts of calcium for each 1 part of phosphorus.
More Calcium Is Not Always Good
Excess amounts of calcium have been associated with several bone diseases affecting growing puppies. Owners of large-breed puppies in particular believe that their puppies require extra calcium for proper development of large bones. Adding yogurt, cottage cheese, or calcium tablets to the pup's diet will only upset the body's delicate mineral balance. Remember that large-breed puppies will consume more food and receive the calcium their bodies need by eating the recommended portions. The best way to support a normal growth rate is to feed growing dogs adequate—but not excessive—amounts of a balanced diet, using a portion-controlled regimen.
Make Sure a Pet Food Is Complete and Balanced
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates the pet food industry and has established certain nutritional requirements for dogs and cats. These requirements are published annually in the AAFCO Manual. Only pet foods that have met the strict testing criteria established by AAFCO can carry the "complete and balanced" statement on the label.
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Beet pulp is the material that remains after sugar is extracted from sugar beets—not red beets. Beet pulp is a source of fiber in dog diets.
Fiber and Beet Pulp
Fiber can be classified as nonfermentable and fermentable. Nonfermentable fiber remains undigested as it passes through the intestines, thereby providing bulk to move wastes out. Cellulose is a nonfermentable fiber.
Fermentable fiber is broken down in the intestines into short-chain fatty acids that provide energy for cells lining the intestine.
Moderately fermentable fiber does both: It provides bulk to move waste and provides energy for cells lining the intestine. Beet pulp is a moderately fermentable fiber.
Myths About Beet Pulp
"Beet pulp is harmful."
Beet pulp contains no toxins and is a very safe fiber source.
"Beet pulp affects coat color."
There is nothing in beet pulp that can affect coat pigment. The inside is light in color. The outside peel, which is dark, is not used.
"Beet pulp contains sugar."
By definition, beet pulp is the material that remains after the sugar is removed from sugar beets. Therefore, beet pulp contains no sugar.
"Beet pulp causes bloat."
Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV) is related to a stomach defect that delays emptying. It is believed that bloat is not related to diet or ingredients, such as beet pulp. However, the cause of bloat remains unknown.
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