If your dog is like most dogs, he probably loves you more than anyone else in the world except maybe his favorite human family member. But that doesn’t mean your pooch has to be so smitten with the taste of flesh that it prefers meat to healthy food. In fact, there are many reasons why your dog might not want to eat as much meat as you’d like him to eat.
Meat-eaters or Vegetable-Eaters?
Just because your dog enjoys eating steak every now and then, it doesn’t necessarily follow that your pet should enjoy eating lots of red meat. It may just be too rich and heavy for his digestive system. In addition, if your dog eats too much animal protein, he could become overweight, which can lead to health problems.
Because your dog has such a short gastrointestinal tract compared to humans, he can’t break down large amounts of meat into small enough pieces to digest properly. Plus, the enzymes needed to digest certain proteins aren’t present in dogs.
This means that even though your dog may like the flavor of beef stew, he won’t get any nutritional value from it. He also wouldn’t benefit from eating large amounts of milk products, since these don’t contain the same nutrients found in cheese.
While some people believe that their dogs need meat to build strong bones, this isn’t actually true. Bones are made up largely of collagen, which is what gives them strength. Collagen is produced naturally by the body, and it forms when connective tissue cells die (this happens constantly). If your dog gets plenty of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are essential to bone development, he will still develop strong bones without consuming large amounts of meat.
The question arises of whether dogs need meat at all. Some experts say no, while others disagree. Many veterinarians advise against feeding pets anything but the best quality commercial kibble, based on studies showing poor nutrition in cheaper canned diets. However, one study showed that the nutrient content of high-quality homemade diets was similar to lower-quality commercial ones. Because homemade diets tend to cost less money and take longer to prepare, some owners choose to feed their dogs better diets by themselves rather than using commercially prepared food.
How Much Meat Can Dogs Eat Without Getting Sick?
When deciding what kind of diet is right for your dog, you first must consider his size and weight. The amount of food he needs varies according to age and breed. For example, puppies usually require smaller portions than adult dogs. You should keep an eye on your pup’s appetite, and add extra servings when necessary. Also, consider your dog’s energy level. A hungry puppy needs more food than an older dog who is already full.
Next, think about what kinds of foods you would like to see included in your dog’s meals. Do you want lean meats or whole grains? What about fruits and vegetables?
How important is an exercise to maintaining good health?
Once you’ve answered these questions, consult a veterinarian before switching your dog’s current diet to another type of food. Even if everything seems fine currently, your vet can help determine whether changing the diet is wise. You should always check with your vet before introducing new foods to your dog. He or she can recommend specific supplements, vitamins, or medications that may be beneficial to your pet’s particular condition.
To find out what your dog needs nutritionally, go to the American Association of Feed Control Officials Web site. Type “nutritional requirements” into the search box and click Go. Then select Pet Food Nutrient Profiles. From here, you can look up different breeds and types of animals. Click on each profile to view information about its particular diet needs. Here’s a breakdown of the main points in the profiles:
Calories per 100 grams of food = calories/100g
Crude Protein % = P%
Moisture = M
Fat = F
Ash = A
Fiber = DF
Protein Requirements for Your Dog
It takes a lot of work for a cat or a cow to produce meat. So, it makes sense that if your dog ate primarily meat, he would need a higher percentage of protein in his food than someone who only consumes grain. According to the American College of Veterinary Nutritionists, adult dogs need between 13 and 17 percent protein, depending on the type of activity they engage in. High-energy working dogs generally require 20 percent protein, and breeding dogs need 25 percent.
However, you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that just because your dog is big and hearty, he needs a ton of protein. Remember, your dog’s digestive system works differently than yours does. His digestion is shorter, and therefore, he can handle a slightly higher protein intake than you can. Just like us, however, too much protein can cause health problems.
Dogs can easily overdose on protein through dry food, treats, or table scraps. Make sure your dog is receiving adequate water and other nutrients throughout the day, especially carbohydrates.
Vegetarian Diets for Dogs
There are two basic types of vegetarian diets for dogs vegan and raw-food diets. Both require careful research and preparation. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products, including dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry. Vegans believe that the consumption of animal products is harmful to our environment and cruel to animals, so they avoid buying anything that contains them.
Although there are several varieties of plant-based foods available, vegans typically stick to either rice-based formulas or dehydrated food. They’re concerned about putting unhealthy additives into their pets’ bodies. Veganism is becoming increasingly popular among dogs today, although it can prove difficult for some pets, particularly those with allergies and sensitivities.
Raw-food vegetarians eat fresh fruit and vegetable purees instead of cooked or processed foods. Raw-foods advocates claim that cooking destroys the valuable enzyme properties found in plants and decreases their nutritional value. These proponents argue that cooking also changes the chemical composition of food, making it toxic for animals.
Some vets feel uncomfortable prescribing a vegetarian diet for their patients, due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting claims regarding the benefits of either diet. Others support vegetarian diets for dogs, believing that they provide the proper balance of nutrients. One argument is that dogs were originally hunters, having evolved to hunt and kill prey.
Therefore, they should continue to receive meat in their diets. Another argument is that vegetarian diets offer dogs greater freedom from illnesses and diseases caused by modern life. Since vegetarian dogs tend to live healthier lives, the idea is that they pass along healthier genes to future generations.
Whatever diet you decide to adopt, remember that you are ultimately responsible for ensuring your pet’s well-being. Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of various dietary options, and weigh all factors carefully when choosing a new diet plan.