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Finding a Tasty, Healthy Treat for Your Dog
There's a great old commercial for a dog treat where all you see is the dog's nose moving rapidly toward the kitchen. "It's bacon!" he cries when he reaches the treat but, of course, it isn't really - it's some artificial form of it. We feed our dogs healthy dog food and we mustn't forget to also provide healthy treats. With treats, we have an advantage over our dogs - we can trick them into thinking the treat they are getting is the best treat in the world. This doesn't stop them from standing underfoot while you munch on a piece of pie or fry up the bacon. But with the tasty homemade treats available today, from the store or from your kitchen, your dog is sure to be tempted.
Buying Healthy Treats
There are many different types of healthy dog goodies out there on the market and many of them are homemade dog treats. These treats should be free of preservatives and additives and contain natural or organic ingredients. Avoid potentially toxic ingredients such as garlic. Look for treats that have few fillers and a high antioxidant and vitamin content. And remember that homemade dog treats have a shorter shelf-life. Homemade treats are available at pet boutiques and online at sites such as doggiebistro.com and threedogbakery.com .
Making Healthy Homemade Dog Treats
Making your own treats is fun and saves money. There are many healthy dog treat recipes out there. Below are some sample recipes. For the baked treats, use only as much liquid as is needed to form a firm, most dough.
Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Mix together and flatten small balls in your hand. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Chicken Broth Cookies
Mix together then roll out on a floured surface. Cut with a cookie cutter (a bone-shaped one is nice) and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Choose a very lean cut of beef such as eye of round. Slice into long pieces of about 1/8 inch thick. Preheat your oven to the lowest possible setting. Place strips on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Leave oven door slightly cracked to let moisture escape. Check in about six hours. Meat should not snap but should break fairly easily.
Make Your Own Tasty Recipes
You can also conjure up your own healthy dog treat recipes. For baked treats, the basic rule is two cups dry ingredients to one cup wet ingredients. Generally, biscuits are baked at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. To devise tasty recipes, pick from the ingredients below:
Special Needs Treats
We all know dogs who could stand to...
How to Choose a Healthy Dog Food
The choices in dog food can be overwhelming. There's food for small dogs and large dogs, thin dogs and fat dogs, couch potatoes and active dogs, and even food specific to a breed (such as Best Breed Dog Food). But, if you want to insure the best nutrition for your dog, choosing dog food from the array of healthy foods available is the best course.
But what does "healthy" dog food mean? It's a food that contains a dog's basic nutrition needs, a good source of protein, and adequate fat, fiber and moisture - and then some (see "Up the Ante" below).
To start with, any dog food must meet the safety regulations of the FDA. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) defines what goes on dog food labels but some feel this is inadequate considering that the AAFCO is not governed and includes people in the pet food industry who benefit from certain guidelines. So, we as dog owners are left largely to ourselves to find a safe and healthy food for our dog.
An average dog should have a diet that is 50% vegetable, 40% meat and 10% grain. Grown dogs need a minimum of 18% protein on a dry matter basis, whereas puppies require at least 22%. All dogs also require some fat, amount dependent on their level of activity. Dogs also need approximately 4% of their diets to be fiber. These are all, again, on average. In doing a dog food comparison, it is best to start with the labels.
Deciphering Dog Food Labels
Dog Food Ingredients: A good way to determine the quality of a food is the ingredient list. With a little practice, you can find a food that does not have unwanted products and is highly digestible. The ingredients are listed in order by weight.
One trick some manufacturers use is to break an ingredient into several different smaller ingredients and list them separately. For example, the ingredients might include chicken (first), ground corn, corn gluten, and corn bran (further down). You might think chicken is the main ingredient but, grouping the corn ingredients together, they would likely greatly outweigh the amount of chicken.
The following must be included on dog food labels:
Note: "Crude" does not take into account digestibility or the source. The source could be human-grade beef or chicken feathers.
Some Tricks Of Your Own
The Wet Versus Dry Food Debate
Does your dog come running at dinnertime because you're shaking his kibble out of the bag? Or is it because you're stirring his wet food in the can? Or do you shake a little, stir a little? When choosing a dry diet, a wet diet or a combo for your dog, there are many comparisons to make.
Wet Versus Dry Food
Deciding between wet and dry food for your dog can be tough. Dry dog kibble is easier to store and serve. Wet often contains fewer grains and more protein. Here are a few more comparisons:
Benefits Of Dry Dog Food
Drawbacks of Dry Dog Food
Benefits of Canned Food
Drawbacks of Canned Food
If you have a dog with special issues, it is best to consult your veterinarian for food recommendations. Dogs, like people, react differently to different diets - some need mostly protein, some need lots of carbs; some benefit most from dry kibble, some from canned food. Here are a few special circumstances to keep in mind:
Age: Young pups and senior dogs tend to do better on wet food because of the added hydration. It is also easier on their teeth.
Overweight Dogs: Wet food is higher in protein which is what a dieting dog needs. It also makes them feel fuller longer. However, a high-protein dry dog food can also be sufficient.
Why Premium Dog Food Is The Best Choice
Whether dry or canned, dog food that falls into the "premium" category offers the most balanced nutrition for your dog. Premium dog foods range in price from approximately $25.00 to $50.00 per 15-pound bag. If this is too pricey, consider mixing a premium food with your less expensive food.
Premium dog food is beneficial in several ways: