ADVICE (FOOD HABITS)
Food (nutrition) is one of the most important factors for our pets’ vitality so that their bodies are kept in balance. Feeding a puppy is completely different than feeding an elderly dog.
Pets with nutrient deficiencies are more susceptible to developing diseases, bad temperament, can be more difficult to train, and so on.
Not only is it necessary to feed them with the right nutrients, but to provide the right amount each dog needs according to their physiology, activity, age, etc..,
Small size animals mature faster and reach their final adult size younger, so that a small breed dog weighing 5kg should eat puppy feed up until it reaches 6 to 8 months and make a gradual change to their adult feed at that age.
However, large breed dogs mature more slowly and reach their final weight at a later stage so they must get puppy feed for about a year. And finally, considering the large variation in sizes in the canine species, we must not forget that large or giant size animals should get a specific feed for these growing breeds for at least a year and half or two years before passing to adult feed.
Elderly animals, like puppies also have some specific nutritional needs that should be covered. Giving them an apt meal for their age will help to maintain a higher quality of life during their last years, feed with reduced levels of protein and certain minerals to prevent damage to the kidney and slightly increased fiber to promote intestinal transit and weight control.
When feeding an elderly or senior dog, we must take into account the size of the animal, since in this case, we have the opposite situation. Large and giant breed animals must first change their diet to that of a senior feed ideally between 6 and 7 years old, and small dogs should change around 8-9 years old.
Some animals will have different nutritional requirements in certain periods of their lives and these are covered by the wide range of quality feeds offered in the market.
For example, working dogs, nervous dogs, sled or hunting dogs, or just very active dogs, have a higher caloric expenditure that has to be replenished. It is not necessary to give them more food, this would be a mistake because energy expenditure comes almost exclusively from calories and fat and should not unreasonably increase in protein. This formula exists in specific High Performance feeds.
For animals that are slightly overweight or fat, there are low calorie feeds that are not lacking in other nutritional aspects to help us to keep our pet at an ideal weight without going hungry.
Animals with any condition should always receive a specific diet prescribed by a veterinarian to cover the nutritional needs that help heal our pet. For this, we have created effectively, a feed such as veterinary prescription diet that only a veterinarian can prescribe. These help to overcome the critical moments of an untimely disease, intestinal problems like diarrhea or constipation, and sometimes postsurgical convalescence.
It is important to note that there are different ranges of quality feed on the market. Those that can be purchased in supermarkets, are not the same quality as those that can be acquired from a veterinarian or animal nutritionist.
High End Feeds are manufactured exclusively with high quality ingredients fit for human consumption using meat and not its derivatives or byproducts. Instead, Low Cost feeds do not have the same guarantees and are subject to market fluctuations in terms of quality and composition.
A feed that claims to have a 25% protein content does not necessarily mean it’s a quality product if it consists of chicken claws or bone meal or hoof. These proteins are not of the same quality biologically and won’t nourish the body equally as if it were made with lean beef or chicken muscle.
Similarly we do not need the same amount of feed from one range or another. We need a larger amount of lower quality feed to meet their needs as it is less assimilated by the body of the animal and there will always be certain shortcomings. Using less food to feed our pet generates less waste due to a better absorption of nutrients, generating a more regular bowel movement, with stools of a darker colour.
At the end of the day the cost of feeding our pet per day is not that much different.
Canned and homemade food
Any food you finally decide to feed your pet with, must always be balanced, and should perfectly meet the needs of the animal, this is something that our pet can hardly get from scraps or what’s left of our food as this food has a tendency to be too caloric and rich in sugar. Moreover, animals have a clear preference for protein and fat receiving insufficient amount of carbohydrates, resulting in a longer, heavier and a more difficult digestion. Another important point to take into consideration is giving them bones to complement their diet. It is now common knowledge how damaging they can be.
Bones are not food, their components are not absorbed and have almost no nutritional value. They turn into a hard, compact, cement like paste inside the animal's gut, causing constipation as well as painful bowel movements that sometimes need medical or surgical interventions.
The problem with wet foods (cans, pates and sausages) as long as they are high end, is not that they are unbalanced, but they do not require an effort from the dog to chew, which favours periodontal disease in our pets, not getting rid of food debris, remaining in the mouth after eating which favours plaque and eventually creates a scale deposit. Tartar is detrimental to oral health, as it causes the gums to retract, exposing the alveolus gum, causing pain and infection. This is why we suggest to feed our pets with Luposan products as we consider it nutritionally balanced and conducive to proper oral hygiene.
For some time now, we have been using a series of digits to define our feeds, (eg 29/15). These numbers indicate: the percentage of protein (first two digits) and the percentage of fat contained in the feed (the second pair of digits). These two components together with carbohydrates (which represent the remainder of the feed composition (discounting moisture) are considered macronutrients in food and should be taken into account of when choosing food for your pet, not to mention of course vitamins and minerals which are considered to be micronutrients. Although some feeds have a high proportion of protein or fat we have to remember that these are not necessarily of high biological value, this is something that only happens in high-end feed, so we specifically recommend their use. Proteins as well as the animal fat are found in large amounts in animal foods such as meat, fish and eggs (biological quality): Others are found in vegetable oils. We can find carbohydrates in short chain (sugars, balanced diet inappropriate for) or long chain digestive fibers of plants (vegetables) or cereals, pasta and rice which must be in a high proportion.
A team of researchers from the University of Uppsala in Sweden, suggests that the changes in the diet of the ancestors of dogs, "the wolves", began when they started to consume starchy foods with the development of agriculture. This was crucial in their domestication 10,000 years ago, according to a study published in Nature today.
The genes of the wolves "adapted" to a diet that stopped being based only on flesh to assimilate foods high in starch. Starch is a molecule present in plants and makes up between 70 and 80 percent of the calories that humans consume worldwide, an element that these animals included in their menu at the same time when the first men began to develop their crops.
"The leftovers of humans, including starchy foods, may have attracted these wolves to us. This means that food may have begun the process of domestication," describes Efe Erik Axelsson, author of the article.
Both humans and wolves adapted their genes to eat this food commonly found in the environment to survive. The preference for starch urged the first dogs to approach human settlements, a process that changed even their behavior.
"Following the trail to the village meant that they lost their shyness and did not have to expend energy fleeing humans," said Axelsson, who claims to have found that the genes modified by diet affected the nervous system of these animals, making them calmer.
After adaptation to starch, wild wolf pups were adopted by early sedentary humans to monitor the settlement at night and protect them from external threats, a relationship that was forged with the role of "man's best friend" for over 10,000 years.
Although the dog is presented as the faithful companion of man, the study suggests that such a role could have been played by cats, whose approach is also related to agriculture, although they were not interested in the grain, but the animals that fed on it, like mice.
The similarity between the digestive tracts of humans and dogs, reinforced this discovery. This could also shed light on diseases such as diabetes, with more in depth studies in dogs.
The change in role dogs have had in society over the past 50 years have been very dramatic, from being a work animal to becoming part of the family, triggered a new global industry. "Food and accessories for dogs", has brought a series of investigations related to food, physiology and metabolism, amongst others.
In the last few years research on animal nutrition has undergone many developments, and things that were once thought right now are considered obsolete and even harmful, such as adding calcium to their diet. Animal research currently advises us maintain a proper balance in the calcium / phosphorus. This is especially important in growing animals, large or giant breeds where calcium supplementation would be very detrimental because it would favor early ossification of the long bones with a premature closure of bone growth lines, leading to greater angulation of the joints in the extremities which could increase suffering by generating joint arthrosis. Large breeds should have a special feed properly balanced in calcium / phosphorus, most likely containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate although this last one should be administered separately to attain the proper dose.
There are other lines of research that point to the desirability of supplementing animal diets with essential fatty acids, these help keep skin and hair healthy, shiny and lustrous. This is not a purely aesthetic factor but aims to prevent the appearance of seborrheic dermatitis and help a fast and itch free molting because the skin is healthier.