Canine Nutrition - Von Bauffin German Shepherd Dogs

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					                                Canine Nutrition

       Many people do not put in the time or effort to research their pet’s nutritional needs

while others have a strong opinion as to what is the most beneficial for their pet. This has

resulted in a multitude of dog food brands or methods of feeding from typical Brand name

kibble, organic kibble, to the BARF diet (what is essentially Bones and Raw Food).

Offering your pet the best diet possible for his or her needs can be essential to the longevity

of their lives, while feeding the inappropriate type of food can be detrimental to their

overall health. Of course, to determine what is right or wrong for your pet is based solely

on the individual animal in question. What is healthy for one animal may not be right for

another. The age, weight, breed, activity, temperament, environment, metabolism,

allergies and other health issues are all vital questions to be considered when selecting the

appropriate brand or method of feeding.

       Growing puppies require a diet that regularly includes greater amounts of proteins,

fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water for proper nutrition and growth; almost

double the amount of an adult dog. Young puppies should be fed an appropriate puppy life

stage food at least three times a day until their food requirements, per pound of body

weight, begin to level off as they mature. Feeding schedules can be reduced to twice a day

when pups are four to five months old. Fresh water in a clean bowl should be available at

all times. Of equal importance is the balance of these nutrients in the diet. A commercial

puppy food is the most convenient method of ensuring a dog receives these nutrients in

correct proportions.
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        Water, being a very simple nutrient, but also very important accounts for between

60 to 70% of the body weight of an adult dog. It helps regulate the body temperature,

facilitates the movement of food through the digestive system, transports other nutrients

and oxygen through the blood system to the cells, is needed in most chemical reactions of

the metabolism, to remove toxins, to provide lubrication for the joints and lung tissues and

the electrical polarity in the cells without which no living being can exist.

Insufficient intake of water can impair physical activity, reproduction, lactation, and

growth. The loss of 15% of the body's water content can result in death. Dogs should

always have free access to plenty or clean fresh water. If you restrict access to water, the

only thing you are going to teach your dog is that it is not available at all times and he has to

get his fill whenever it is available. This is not healthy and may lead to stomach upsets and

bladder infections. The only times you should supervise water intake is after heavy

exercise or when a dog is already overheated or dehydrated. If this is the case giving small

amounts of water frequently until things are back to normal, is best.

        Proteins are chemicals made up of other chemicals known as amino acids. Dogs

can make some amino acids in their bodies and must be supplied others in their food. As

the “building blocks” of tissue, proteins are necessary for all aspects of growth and

development. Puppies fed inadequate protein will not grow as well and are more

susceptible to health problems than puppies fed nutritionally complete diets. These are

particularly important for large and giant breed puppies, though it is important to

remember that protein markedly above the upper limit will be converted into energy, rather

than incorporated into protein tissue. This will add to the energy burden, and potentate the

problems associated with excess energy consumption.
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       Fats, most importantly, help maintain a healthy skin and coat. They provide a

media for fat-soluble vitamins. The quality and quantity of fats in the diet are extremely

important because they can influence appetite and food intake as it increases the

palatability of their food which may result in the puppy eating excessively adding an

abundance of energy that may predispose to rapid growth spurts, developmental

orthopedic diseases, weight gain, and obesity.

       Carbohydrates provide energy and are made up of starches and fiber provided from

plant sources such as grains and vegetables. Dogs are primarily carnivores and while some

grains are needed, meat should rightfully be the main source of protein and energy. Dog

foods made up of ingredients such as wheat, corn, or rice are not as high of quality as they

could be. If you notice dry dog food containing a lot of carbohydrates, they are getting

enough energy to survive. It is like a human eating fast food everyday. An excess of

carbohydrates, fats, or proteins can all lead to obesity, but carbohydrates are usually the

cause since they are typically the most common energy source and are easily converted to

glucose. It is also noted that many dogs often have allergies to ingredients such as corn or

soy and may require a diet without it.

       Vitamins and minerals are needed for the body’s structural building and chemical

reactions. Vitamins A, D, E and K need fat in the diet to be absorbed in the body. Once

ingested, vitamin A is stored within fat cells, mainly in the liver. Deficiencies lead to poor

low –light vision, retarded growth, poor quality skin and hair development and

reproductive failure. Females will not ovulate properly and males can become sterile if

they are deficient in Vitamin A. Vitamin D plays a major role in skeletal growth, muscle

control, and nerve functions. Dogs can make their own vitamin D so it is not necessary,
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though many provide it to boost their pets immune system however redundant it may be.

Vitamin B is water-soluble and are readily absorbed by the body. Vitamin E is found in

plain oils and wheat germ and highly concentrated in meats such as liver and fat. Vitamin E

functions in the role in the formations of cell membranes, cell respiration, and in the

metabolism of fats. It is an antioxidant and protects various hormones from oxidation.

Deficiencies are well documented and can result in damage and death in skeletal muscle,

heart, testes, liver and nerves. It is essential in keeping the cells of these organs alive and

functioning. Vitamin K is essential for normal blood functions. Without Vitamin K, blood

cannot clot.

        It is important to not add supplements to a balanced diet as excess vitamins can rise

to a level of toxicity, calcium can predispose to significant skeletal abnormalities, such as

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, Osteochondrosis and Hip Dysplasia. Keep in mind, also,

that adding vitamins, particularly vitamin D, will also increase absorption of dietary

calcium to excessive levels .

        Pregnant females nutrient and caloric requirements will increase during the last two

to three weeks which can be met by gradually increasing the female’s food intake. No

additional calories or nutrients are necessary until the second half of pregnancy, excess

food intake will add unnecessary fat which will make delivery more difficult and increase

the possibility of complications. Do not add calcium to the diet, excessive calcium has been

linked to difficult deliveries, soft tissue calcium deposits in the puppies and certain joint

abnormalities in the pups. For this reason, do not supplement your pregnant dog with

calcium unless specifically instructed by your veterinarian. The demand for milk by
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nursing puppies will continue to increase for about 20 to 30 days (or up to 4 weeks).

Consequently, the female's food and water requirements increase during this time. At peak

lactation, the female's food intake may be two to four times above her usual or maintenance

food intake. In order to maintain good body condition and to provide ample amounts of

milk for the puppies, nursing females should be offered all the food they want. After

weaning, the amount of food should be reduced based on the condition of the dog.

               If for any reason a pet’s diet is to change it is important to avoid digestion

upsets to gradually mix the current pet food with the new pet food over a period of seven to

ten days. It is recommended that you switch your dog’s diet to an adult food formula when

close to his adult height; this is usually around two years of age. Smaller dogs achieve this

sooner, around one year of age. While some dogs may require special diets due to medical

issues, the average small or medium breed dog should eat food containing: High-quality,

animal-based protein for muscle maintenance, fiber for a healthy digestive tract, essential

vitamins and minerals for the immune system, vitamin-rich fish oils for a healthy coat and

skin and for overall health and finally healthy grains for energy.

        Large breed dogs grow much more rapidly than other breeds. Genetics,

environment, and nutrition play key roles. They need a diet that will support growth

without allowing them to grow too quickly. They are the most susceptible to skeletal

disease, so they may need food containing glucosamine and less fat than a medium breed

dog to help maintain joint health. Excessive caloric intake will lead to weight gain putting

extra stress on their undeveloped bones and joints.
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        Because small dogs have a higher life expectancy than large breed dogs this puts

them at a higher risk of developing health problems over the years especially

dental-diseases and obesity. Special formulated kibble will help reduce tartar build up. It is

a common misconception that a smaller dog must eat less but because they are so energetic

and metabolize their food at a much quicker rate they often need to eat double the amount

of calories per pound. It is fair to say they can not digest a whole lot at one time so it is

important to feed them many small meals a day.

        Working dogs may be classified as hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs,

assistance dogs, police K9’s, livestock guardians, or be involved in sports such as

Schutzhund, French Ring, Sledding, Racing and many others. Working dogs expend a lot

of energy and require more protein and fat for retaining stamina during the work day.

Carbohydrates and fibers tend to take a lot of time to digest in the dogs’ relatively short

digestive tract, while animal proteins are quickly digested. Digestion takes up much of the

energy and the less time spent digesting the more of that energy can be spent elsewhere,

meaning each task they are given to perform.

        The main components of a raw diet for performance dogs are raw meaty bones,

muscle meat, and organ meat. Additional protein sources come from eggs, cottage cheese,

and whole milk yogurt. Carbohydrates are either omitted or given in the form of vegetables.

Any vegetables that are offered should be broken down enough that the dog may digest and

absorb the nutrients. Dogs are capable of digesting raw foods without getting ill because

their digestive tracts are so much shorter than humans but when switching to raw it is

important to remember it is easier to switch immediately than to mix as you would when
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switching to a different brand of kibble. This is because dry kibble digests slower than raw

meat. If mixed, raw may get stuck with the kibble and allow the bacteria to colonize and

increasing the possibility of the body absorbing bacteria like salmonella. It is imperative

that if one is to feed the raw diet that they have a full understanding of dogs’ nutritional

needs and that they make sure their pet is getting all the nutrients necessary for a complete


        As your pet reaches their golden years their dietary needs will change. The

metabolism will slow down significantly. Obesity may become a problem and because

they are less active, weight loss can be difficult. They are more prone to dental disease; in

addition, they might start to develop conditions associated with old age such as arthritis,

kidney failure or heart disease. For all of these reasons, special care must be given to their

diet. Special formulated senior-diets are available. Because of slowed metabolism and

activity they are typically lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber to support

gastrointestinal health. It is actually very important that healthy older dogs have a

moderately protein rich diet opposed to one made up of carbohydrates as they do not have

much nutritional need from carbohydrates. It is far better to feed protein, which dogs

efficiently convert into energy as well as muscle, than to feed carbohydrates, which are

more likely to be converted to fat. There remains no evidence that protein at any level

consistent with complete and balanced nutrition has adverse effects on the kidneys of

normal, healthy dogs. However, if a veterinarian has confirmed renal failure in your pet

dietary management may only lesson the working load of the kidneys, not cure it.

        Because many older dogs are probable candidates for weight gain and even obesity,
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feeding a commercial weight reduction diet may be beneficial rather than to just reduce the

amount of food your pet intakes. Finally, by reducing the amount of the food currently

being fed, you are also decreasing the level of protein, vitamins, minerals, etc., not just the

fat. These reductions could be eliminated by using supplements, but it is much more

difficult to achieve the right balance.

          Supplements of chondroitin and glucosamine are helpful in alleviating symptoms

of arthritis. It may also be conducive to add an antioxidant supplement which can be

provided by some vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C, E and A

          Dry dog food is the cheapest, best balanced, and easiest to store type of ready-made

food you can buy. The scraping and chewing action reduce the build up of tartar and


          Another option of feeding is wet or semi-moist food. The benefits of wet food are

that it is easily eaten and easy on the stomach for dogs with digestion problems as well as

highly palatable for picky eaters. The main problem associated with a strictly wet food diet

is the likelihood that food will get caught in their teeth, begin to decay and cause a build up

of plaque and cause gum disease. Meaning dental care will become a high priority;

especially in smaller breeds. Semi-moist foods include fake beef cubes, fake burgers and

ect. They are usually loaded with sugars and chemical additives to preserve their moist

content without going bad. Being the least nutritional option of feeding and having a

shorter shelf-life it is more prone to bacterial growth in the preserved moisture.

          Offering table scraps should be avoided as it may encourage begging and create a
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finicky eater. Dogs fed large amounts of table scraps tend to be overweight. There are

many foods that should be avoided because of their toxicity to the dog: Onions and garlic

contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia,

chocolate, coffee, tea and other caffeine which can be toxic and affect the heart and

nervous systems, grapes and raisins have an unknown toxin to cause damage to the

kidneys, avocados and fat trimmings which can cause pancreatitis, are just a few.

       Appropriate treats such as biscuits, bones and rawhide are a better alternative way

to reward or give them something special. Cooked bones are absolutely off limits as they

can splinter and harm the digestive tract. Raw bones are less likely to splinter. Though it is

important to supervise them so that they do not break off and swallow pieces that they

could choke on. Remove any broken parts or if the bone becomes too hard take it away as

hard chewers may break their teeth while gnawing.

       Pet food labels are often times difficult to understand and decipher the meaning

behind them. Here are a few of the statements that are used on dog food labels that can be


      With Chicken Flavor - Flavor is detectable but doesn't have to have any actual

       Chicken meant present in the product

      With Salmon - The product contains at least 3% salmon. So if you buy a product

       that says "now with real beef" it may only have 3% real beef in it!

      Beef Dinner - The product must contain at least 25% Beef.

      Liver For Dogs - At least 95% of the product must be liver or 70% including water
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Many pet foods are labeled as "premium," and some now are "super premium" and even

"ultra premium." Other products are touted as "gourmet" items. Products labeled as

premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients,

nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and

balanced products. The term "natural" is often used on pet food labels, although that term

does not have an official definition.. For the most part, "natural" can be construed as

equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the

product. "Natural" is not the same as "organic." The latter term refers to the conditions

under which the plants were grown or animals were raised. There are no official rules

governing the labeling of organic foods (for humans or pets) at this time, but the United

States Department of Agriculture is developing regulations dictating what types of

pesticides, fertilizers and other substances can be used in organic farming. All ingredients

are required to be listed in order of predominance by weight. The weights of ingredients are

determined as they are added in the formulation, including their inherent water content.

Ingredients must be listed by their "common or usual" name. Most ingredients on pet food

labels have a corresponding definition in the AAFCO Official Publication. At minimum, a

pet food label must state guarantees for the minimum percentages of crude protein and

crude fat, and the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. The "crude" term

refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself.

        As you can see there are multiple options pertaining to feeding a dog and many

contributing factors that make a difference as to what is the best and most nutritional diet
                               Canine Nutrition
for each dogs individual needs. It is important to consult a veterinarian if you have any

questions or concerns before altering your pet’s diet.

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