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Dog Food: Even Fido's Gotta Eat

By Allen Shaw

You"ve brought home your new best friend. You"ve read all the books. You"ve purchased all the latest gadgets. He has more toys than you ever had as a child. And you've made the appointment with the vet to get Fido his first set of shots. You're done"right? WRONG! Your new pup still hasn't eaten yet. So what do you feed him? Dry dog food, can dog food or people food"what's the best choice? Well, all have their pros and cons. But some dogs are very finicky. So just know that if he gets used to a certain kind of food, he may never want to switch. So choose carefully.

When you go to pet store to buy food there are a few things you should look for. First, whatever type of food you decide to feed your dog, know what's in the bag. What does this mean'read the ingredients! The first three ingredients listed on a bag of dog food makes up about 80% of what's actually in the bag. If beef, chicken or liver aren't listed until Ingredient seven or eight, how much beef, chicken or liver do you think your dog is actually ingesting? I'll tell you"not much.

Second, if your dog is still a puppy, you should be looking for a brand that's high in protein. They need that little extra push to get them through their day. And if your dog is one of the larger breeds like German Shepard's or Labradors, you may be feeding him HiPro (the generic name for foods high in protein) until he's about two-years-old. Most of the larger breeds tend to have the energy and personalities of puppies until they enter the terrible twos. And they need a food that can keep up with them.

There are numerous brands to choose from. Purina, Iams, Nutramax and Science Diet are just a few. Most of the brands are comprised of different types of ingredients, depending on how young or old, active or inactive, your dog is. This is so you won't have to change brands as your dog gets older and a bit slower. Remember, some dogs can be quite finicky. And some dogs get so used to a certain kind of food that a sudden change can cause digestive problems. The problems are rarely of the life threatening kind. But until your dog gets used to the new brand, you may deal with a dog that won't eat. Or worse, a dog that will eat, but the food is such a shock to his system that he gets the squirts. And that's no fun for him or you. The more consistent you can stay with your dog's cuisine, the better.

Soft dog foods may be an option for some of the breeds who have"well"a somewhat funny looking face (Pugs, Bulldogs, Pomeranians). Breeds like these tend to have an overbite or an underbite making dry food somewhat of a problem to chew. It's not their fault really, but you should be aware. The same rules apply though. If they are puppies, get something high in protein.

And finally"to feed or not to feed your dog table scraps. A question for the ages. Every dog owner in history has come across those soulful, sad eyes staring at you while eating dinner. It's hard for most of us to hold out for any length of time and eventually we succumb to the whiny, cute little face resting on our leg. But beware, breaking the habit of begging at the table tends to be one of the hardest habits to break in our canine friends. If Fido gets used to getting his way when he begs for your dinner, it may be impossible to get him to go back to his dog bowl. And why would he? Would you go back to eating dry, crunchy food that tastes like cardboard (I know this for a fact, I tried it once to see why my dog wasn't eating) after eating a well-cooked hamburger? Why should he. So be really careful before deciding to feed your dog off the table. You may never get him to go back to regular dog food.

Copyright 2006 Allen Shaw

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