Exercise nutrition = a healthy dog

Sometimes, going to school was a very painful experience, not because of bullies, but because we had to take classes that we absolutely despised in order to graduate. And one of the most disliked classes that were targeted for individual hatred always seemed to be either English or (most likely) Mathematics. That was especially true for me when it came to Algebra. Those formulas were enough to make me go home and trample my mother’s zinnias.

But all kidding aside, when it comes to math, I’ve got a formula that better be burned into the brain of every dog owner out there:

Exercise + Nutrition = a Healthy Dog

That’s pretty basic isn’t it? It seems simple enough. The problem is, most people care more about the price of the food than their dog and the potential effects that cheap foods will eventually have on them.

Let’s dispel a common myth. “It will cost me a lot more to feed my dog the better food than the brand I’ve been giving them.” WRONG!!! First of all, the better foods do cost more, but your dog will eat less of it at a sitting, so therefore, you really aren’t spending more money. Second, don’t say you can’t afford to feed your dog better food. The attitude you should have is that you can’t afford not to.

The kibbled foods characteristically should list corn, rice, or soybean as one of the main ingredients. However, the better ones have fish meal or meat as the key ingredient. So make sure you read the labels on those bags. Additionally, other than water (which you can handle providing the dog), make sure that all five of these elements are listed as components of the kibble as well:

* carbohydrates * fats * minerals * protein * vitamins

The bottom line is that if any one of these is missing, find another brand that has them all. Along with water, your dog needs each one of these in their diet, and on a consistent basis. A dog’s activity level, medical history, and stress levels will mandate the type of additional nutrients needed in the dog’s diet. So of the five nutrients listed above, what areas of the dog’s health are they critical to?

Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are essential to maintaining normal energy levels. Females that are nursing puppies, heavy exercise, and regulating body temperatures place heavier demands on these particular nutrients because they burn more energy. An outside dog, due to the presence of more exercise, will need more of these nutrients than an inside dog (couch potato).

Recommendations for a quality fish or meat based kibble should have 12-15 percent fat and 22-26 percent protein for both puppies and adult dogs where both growth and optimal nutrition are concerned. Dogs that are extremely active require a percentage or two more; older dogs that are not as active may require a percentage or two less. Also, it is advised that calcium not be added to the food unless recommended by the vet.