Wellness Care Canine Nutrition • A proper diet is necessary to ensure the health and breeding will most likely require a maintenance diet longevity of your dog. with higher energy content. • Dogs are omnivores, meaning that they can eat meat Before purchasing a dog food, look for a statement and plants as their primary food sources. on the label that verifies that the food underwent • Look for a statement on the food’s label that says the AAFCO feeding trials. This means that the food food underwent AAFCO (Association of American was tested on animals according to guidelines from Feed Control Officials) feeding trials. the Association of American Feed Control Officials. • If you prefer to feed a homemade or raw diet, it’s best A label that says the food meets AAFCO standards to do it under the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist. simply means that a chemical analysis of the food • Table scraps and treats should be kept to a minimum appears to be complete and balanced, but the food has to ensure that your dog receives balanced nutrition not been tested on animals. Because some nutrients and does not become overweight or develop a problem may not be digestible when fed to animals, the (such as itchy, infected ears or a skin infection) due to feeding trial statement is a better indication of the a food allergy. nutritional adequacy of the food. How Do I Choose a Dog Food? A high-quality, complete and balanced diet is impor- tant for the health and longevity of your dog. Among other benefits, a proper diet helps build strong bones, promotes healthy gums and teeth, protects immune function, and results in a lustrous haircoat. Unlike cats, which are carnivores (meaning that they must With a complete and balanced commercial diet, eat meat), dogs are omnivores, meaning that they can vitamin supplements are usually not necessary; in eat meat and plants as their primary food sources. fact, supplying too many nutrients can be dangerous. A large number of dog foods are available at pet Consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any supply stores, so selecting a dog food can be daunting. supplements. How do you find a food that’s right for your dog? Start by asking your veterinarian the following: “Which Do Certain Diseases Require Special Foods? food will meet the particular needs of my pet?” and Nutrition can help slow the progression, or manage “Which brand(s) do you recommend?” the signs, of many diseases. For dogs with kidney Most pet foods are created for different life stages, disease, for example, diets lower in protein have including puppy, maintenance, or senior diets. Within been shown to help slow disease progression. Foods these life stages are even more specific categories. with limited or hydrolyzed proteins can help reduceFOR YOUR PeT For example, if you own a Saint Bernard puppy, the itching and scratching in many allergic dogs. you’ll need to feed a puppy food for large-breed dogs. For dogs with osteoarthritis, many diets now contain Large-breed puppy foods are specially formulated to higher levels of glucosamine and antioxidants to meet the special requirements of large-breed puppies help reduce pain and inflammation. (for example, these foods have higher amounts of Most diets that are designed for a specific disease calcium and phosphorus because large-breed puppies are prescription diets and are only available through grow faster than small-breed puppies). As another veterinarians. If your pet has a disease or condition, example, an adult dog that is used for hunting or consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice.