Nutrition Solutions - Healthy dog, happy human
Bring your pooch and your family to New Canaan's Dog Days of Summer event, being held on Sunday, Aug. 29, from noon to 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at Cherry Street East Village (111 Cherry St.). Lots of fun activities for everyone. For more information, check visit www.newcanaandogdays.com.
Think about this: the food we eat is fuel for our lives. Making healthy choices helps us to be as healthy as possible. We're different in so many ways, but one thing that we can say about dogs and humans alike is that we need to eat our best to feel and live our best.
What we feed our furry friends helps determine how healthy they'll be and how long they'll live. Like us, dogs can suffer from food allergies and obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, cancer, joint issues and shortened lifespan. Poor quality food (or simply poor choices) and over-feeding definitely play a role.
Dogs need more protein than humans. You may enjoy the health benefits of a vegan diet, but your dog will not because of insufficient protein, lack of vitamin B12 and possible toxicity with some plant substances. Since they have shorter digestive tracts and teeth that tear rather than crush, their protein has to be easily digestible.
They can eat most people food (see below for what they can't). It's a good idea to put people food in the dog's bowl so he doesn't associate your meals with an opportunity to beg.
According to the ASPCA, the following foods can be toxic or otherwise harmful for dogs and should be avoided (some may be fine in small quantities, visit www.aspca.org for more information):
"¢ chocolate, coffee, caffeine
"¢ macadamia nuts
"¢ grapes & raisins
"¢ yeast dough
"¢ raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones
"¢ onions, garlic, chives
The dog food market is flooded with choices and more brands than you can shake a rawhide bone at. Dry food is inexpensive and convenient. Canned food is also convenient, but costlier. Raw food is more expensive still and may have food safety concerns. Home-cooking is a great choice, but not if you're struggling to cook healthy meals for your family already. And just how much should your dog be eating and how much should he weigh?
A good first step is to talk with your vet. She's in the best position to combine her knowledge of both veterinary science with your dog's health history. The right diet will address your dog's nutritional needs, which vary by age, activity and health conditions. It will also be realistic for your lifestyle. If you're in the market for a new vet, check out those who take a holistic approach and focus on nutrition.
Ask if supplements are appropriate. Many dogs can benefit from additives like salmon oil for a shiny coat, multivitamins/minerals to round out nutrition (especially if you're home-cooking), digestive enzymes and probiotics for a healthy digestive tract and immune system.
Don't forget the treats! Here too you want to choose high-quality products and understand how they fit into your dog's overall eating plan. Like baking cookies? Try your hand at some yummy (and healthy) dog treats. This can also be a fun activity for your kids.
Lisa Corrado received her Master of Science in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and her Culinary Arts Diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education. She makes busy people healthier by combining clinical nutrition with foods they love to eat. Contact Lisa at 203-972-3447 or Lisa@LisaCorradoNutrition.com. Visit her website at www.LisaCorradoNutrition.com.