Just as we do not like to eat the same thing every day, our dogs also need some variation in their diets so we can be sure they are getting all the essential nutrients they require for healthy coats, skin, teeth and general, overall health. Not only do Bully breeds like Pit Bulls, American Bulldogs, Boxers, Dogo Argentino, Am Staffs, Mastiffs, Bull Terriers and others, require a greater amount of food than most dogs, they also do much better and have longer life expectancies when given a diet including lots of fruits and veggies. Here are my top 5 feeding tips for larger breed dogs:
- Try to give your dog as many different vitamins and minerals as possible.
Remember the food pyramid? Even though this is not nicely printed on the back of dog food bags, the general principle still applies. Dogs need a variety of vitamins, minerals and food types just like we do.A deficiency in any one of these areas can lead to weak bones, gastrointestinal upset, poor skin/coat and an increased susceptibility to illness and infection. With the right diet your dog will have an increased resistance to disease and a longer, greater quality of life. A simple way to incorporate more essential vitamins and minerals into your pet’s diet is to make them a small side of what ever veggie you are preparing for yourself that night. If that is not possible or you have a picky eater on your hands, there are great supplements out there to be sure your dog’s nutritional requirements are being met.
- Change up the Menu.
How would you feel if the tables were turned and your dog decided that you were going to eat plain Cheerios for every meal. Wouldn’t the texture and taste tire after awhile? There is no reason why your dog’s diet can not be as varied as your own. There are many other choices out there besides dry or wet food, and table scraps are just fine for your dog if they are nutritionally sound and do not contain any of the food items that are harmful for dogs (see post Foods NOT to Feed Your Dog for more info). As natural carnivores, dogs love different textures, and a well thought out meal plan is one that contains elements of chewiness and crunch. My dog’s favorites tend to be peanut butter, eggs, potato (almost raw), rice, raw carrots, and of course anything with meat – shockingly, tuna is a big hit.
- Explore new foods beyond meat.
Yes, as with all carnivores, your dog will like anything with a meaty flavor, but again, sticking to this regime is not going to satisfy all of your pet’s caloric and essential vitamin needs. Dry food is a good base to any dog’s diet as it contains many important nutritional needs, but a bit of dry food and some meat just will not cut it. You might be surprised at the different foods your dog will enjoy if given the chance. For example, one of my dogs absolutely loves hummus (it is actually one of the only ways we can get him to swallow pills), so we took another step up from here and started incorporating more beans into his diet. Pay attention to your companion’s likes and dislikes and start building from there.
- Green is good.
The nutritional impact of fruits and veggies is unsurpassed by any prepackaged wet or dry food you can buy at the store. It is a myth that dogs do not like to eat veggies, in fact, most dogs love fruits and veggies in their crunchy, raw form. Veggies are a great way to easily up the nutritional value of any meal. They are also versatile that a determined owner will be able to sneak elements of these foods within other items. What dog would not eat a veggie omelet?
- Do not break the bank.
These tips are not meant for you to go out and buy all kinds of new products and spend extra time cooking special meals with your dog – although you are welcome to do that! The goal is to start incorporating some of the foods you already have in your home and are serving to your family into your dog’s bowl. This can be as easy as setting aside an extra serving of veggies to mix in with the dry food or sharing the leftover chicken with your pet, instead of throwing it on the compost pile.
All dogs are not built the same and each dog will have its own set of requirements depending on their age and size, but it is important that all dogs have a varied diet full of nutrient rich foods in addition to the standard-issue wet or dry dog food. As you start to feed your dog more fresh foods you will start to get a better idea of their likes and dislikes, making shopping and meal planning a breeze. So get away from the bag or the can and start feeding your dog right.