As a veterinarian, I’ve found that pet owners take seriously the responsibility of ensuring their dogs live healthy, happy lives. They worry about making sure their dog gets enough exercise, receives regular wellness checks and receives balanced nutrition that gives them energy to run and play.
What some people don’t realize is that owning and caring a dog can improve the owner’s health as well. Spending quality time with your dog and providing them with quality nutrition is good for the dog and can help ease stress and anxiety levels for you. Studies have shown that owning a pet can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels1 — which is great news for your heart health.
In short, when your dog is getting the best care, proper exercise, nutrition and love, they can enjoy a long and healthy life. And that can ultimately make you healthier, too!
So what does that mean when it comes to feeding your dog?
Many owners see their dog as part of the family, and that sometimes means they will feed their dog like they feed themselves. For example, some people may choose low-carb or gluten-free diets for themselves and do the same for their pets. However, while this instinct comes from a place of love, many owners don’t realize that their dog’s dietary needs differ from their own.
Take grains for example. As a veterinarian, it’s important for me to note that grains are good for your dog. Yes, you read that right — they’re good!
A very small percentage of dogs may have a food sensitivity that requires a special grain-free diet or a dog food without a certain protein. However, this is not necessary for the vast majority of dogs. Most dogs benefit from a complete, balanced diet with healthy grains, high-quality proteins and essential vitamins and minerals.
Here’s why: Grains are a good source of carbohydrates that provide healthy energy. Some grains, like rice and wheat, provide “quick” energy, while other grains, like barley and sorghum, take longer to convert to energy. A combination of these different grains can offer a time-released energy source that helps dogs sustain energy. The whole grains in IAMS dog food are a beneficial mix, as they supply steady energy.
In addition to the grains you’ll find in IAMS food, you’ll also find high-quality proteins, like chicken and lamb, as well as essential nutrients needed to help support heart health. Together, this combination will give your dog a steady source of energy to be active on walks, runs, hikes or play sessions around the house.
For your dog to be healthy and happy, be sure you feed them a well-balanced diet and allow them enough exercise time. In return, you’ll get unconditional love, plenty of sweet doggy snuggles and maybe even more exercise — just a few of the ways you and your dog are joined at the heart.
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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