How and What we feed our dogs
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - May 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Many of us keep pets at home. Either we treat the animals as just animals that go in and out of the house or as beloved members of the family. In my own case, it’s the latter.

I have three dogs. It may be said that I live among animals, since my dogs are the only companions I have in the house. But, boy, what great companions they are!

Needless to say, I tend to lavish my dogs with anything I can afford. Even while I’m away at work, they occupy a good piece of my mind. All I want is to keep them safe and happy.

Okay, there’s really no way to tell if my dogs are happy the way their lives go with me. I can only care for them the best way I know how. I feed them well, buy them quality pet care products, religiously take them to the vet for their regular immunization.

Still I remain just a plain dog lover – not a dog expert. There are many things about dogs that I am continually trying to educate myself about. And there have been a lot of things I’ve learned so far, one of which is that sheer love alone won’t guarantee that my dogs are safe and happy with me.

When they were yet puppies, I’d feed my dogs until they’d turn away from their feeding bowls or until they’d throw up. I liked it when their bodies grew so round that at a distance they could be mistaken for piglets.  Then the vet warned me that my beloved pets were getting obese.

In its website, the American Kennel Club (AKC) states that keeping growing dogs healthy starts by getting them properly nourished. It’s simple to do, the AKC says: Serve sensibly sized portions of high-quality chow, avoid feeding “people food,” and keep snacks to a minimum.

The AKC explains that a young dog carrying too much weight has an increased risk of orthopedic problems, due to stress on immature joints. It adds that obesity can also lead to diabetes, diseases of the heart and other organs, and general lethargy.

It is important to start the pets healthy, for it has great implications for the rest of their lives. The AKC shares the following tips for ensuring that puppies get proper food and nutrition:

• Find the correct portion size. Body condition, not the amount eaten or left in the bowl, should determine portion sizes. (There’s a saying in canine feeding: “Watch the dog, not the dish.”) Portion sizes to achieve peak body condition depend on individual metabolism and body type. Nutritional requirements vary from dog to dog.

• Dry food, wet food, or both? Manufactured dog food is widely available in three types: canned, semi-moist, and dry (kibble).

Canned food is the most expensive to feed, and dogs often find it most palatable. Be careful of “all-meat” claims. Your dog should have a complete, balanced diet to fulfill nutritional requirements. Meat alone won’t do it.

Semi-moist food is available in one-serving packets. It is usually manufactured to look like hamburger.

Kibble is the most economical, and the major makers offer a complete and balanced diet for dogs of all sizes and ages. There is an oral-hygiene advantage in hard kibble: The friction produced helps to keep gums and teeth healthy. Kibble can be moistened, either with water, broth, or canned food. Although unnecessary, such supplementation may make food tastier.

• Careful with giving the dog a bone. Poultry and pork bones, or cooked bones of any kind, are strictly forbidden. They splinter into shards that can cause choking and serious damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines.

Any bone, in fact, once chewed into small pieces, can block the intestines and lead to a nasty bout of constipation, can cause lacerations of the mouth and internal organs, or can lodge in the throat with fatal results. Bones have little if any nutritional value.

There are other ways to satisfy a dog’s craving to chew. Commercially available chew toys and simulated bones are made for dogs of all sizes.

Hold the fries. One little French fry will invariably lead to another, and another. Before long, an obese dog will be crowding you off the sofa.

Also, a steady diet of table scraps can create a nutritional imbalance, and certain ingredients and spices in your favorite dishes can cause upset stomach in dogs. And remember: There is room for only one alpha dog in your house, and that’s you. Allowing a dog to beg at the table undermines your status as pack leader, resulting in training and behavior problems.

If we truly love our dogs and are happy to have them in our life, it should be our challenge to do all we can to also make them happy to be with us. It’s hard to tell how our pets feel about us, yes, but at least we can spare them from possible sickness and suffering. We can try to keep them safe and healthy, starting when they are yet puppies.

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