Preventing Canine Health Problems through Diet

Many canine health problems, such as ear infections, allergies and liver and kidney problems, can be caused or made worse by an unhealthy diet. Though buying a higher quality food may cost more initially, it will help your dog live a long, healthy life.

Consequences of Unhealthy Diet

Because commercial pet foods are often filled with cheap filler rather than required protein and nutrients, dogs immune systems become weaker, according to many veterinarian reports. This makes them more susceptible to environmental allergies as well as other illnesses.

Many veterinarians even contend that a healthy diet can reduce the risk of kidney and liver damage as well as certain types of cancer. Healthy diets can also help your dog lose weight, increase energy and maintain a healthy coat and teeth.

Choosing a Healthy Diet

Many dog food companies make claims about the quality of their products that aren't backed by results. Since the dog food industry doesn't have standards for terms such as "premium" or "organic," any dog food company can make those claims without being any more high quality than other brands.

Instead of taking these claims at face value, research the brands that are considering on consumer search sites and read labels to see what ingredients are in your dog's food.

More than 75 percent of the food is made up by the first three ingredients listed on the label. Thus, if the first three ingredients are corn, meat byproducts and corn meal, there is almost nothing in the food that your dog can digest. Dogs can't digest wheat or corn, so there should be none of it in the food you choose. The first three ingredients should be protein sources or high quality grains, such as brown rice, oats or barley.

You should also look for quality protein sources. The food you choose should list the type of protein, such as turkey, chicken or beef. If it says "meat," this is very low-quality. Byproducts consist of the cheap parts of the animal, which contain very little protein and nutrients. Avoid this in the food choose.

Look for a variety of ingredients, such as apples, carrots, broccoli and essential vitamins. Avoid foods with food coloring or preservatives.

Many foods also offer a grain-free option, which may be appealing since dogs wouldn't consume many grain sources in the wild. However, a small percentage of high quality grains isn't bad.

Other brands offer organic products, but remember that there is no testing for this, so companies aren't required to prove this to use that claim on their label. However, Honest Kitchen did prove in court that they use only human-grade food.

Supplementing Dog Food

If you feed your dog a high-quality diet, additional supplements aren't necessary. However, if you are making a home-prepared diet, be sure to supplement with pet vitamins. Another good addition is salmon oil or fish oil capsules.

By providing your dog with a high-quality diet, you are helping promote a healthy immune system that will naturally ward off many illnesses and prevent future health problems.