Feeding your dog a good quality diet that is appropriate for their life stage and other relevant factors is vitally important to keep your dog fit and well, and for most dogs, a middle of the road complete diet that falls at the middle of the price spectrum is perfectly sufficient.
However, for some dogs, their diet can have a direct effect on their health, and some dog foods are specially formulated to support certain conditions, reduce allergens, or otherwise address a known problem. There are actually several health conditions that what, when and how much you feed to your dog can have a direct impact on, and what you feed your dog can either help or hinder such conditions, or even prevent them from developing!
In this article, we will look at five canine health conditions that can be helped or hindered by your dog’s diet, or the type of nutrition that they receive. Read on to learn more.
Obesity is often not seen as the big problem that it really is, because it is seen as something that is simple to avoid or correct; but as anyone who has ever had to put their dog on a diet will know, this is not always so simple!
Obesity among dogs is a huge problem in the UK, and many dog owners do not even realise that their dog is overweight rather than lean and fit. Obesity can be directly attributed to food, of course; factors that contribute to it can include feeding the wrong food, feeding too much, feeding too often, or giving too many treats and scraps instead of proper meals.
Obesity can both lead to and exacerbate a whole range of health conditions in your dog, including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Bladder stones form in the bladder and/or urinary tract, and begin as crystals that clump together to form a hard mass that can block the urethra, and cause pain and other problems with urination. Bladder stones come in various different forms, depending on what minerals created them, and struvite stones and calcium oxalate stones are the most common types found within the dog.
Feeding a very hard, dry food can help bladder stones to develop in dogs that are prone to them, while some other foods can help to break them down or stop them from forming in the first place. If your dog is prone to developing bladder stones, your vet may wish to place your dog on a special diet to deal with this.
Dogs of all types can suffer from heart problems, particularly in old age. While some of these may be present from birth or have a hereditary element to them, others can develop through a combination of diet and lifestyle, which can exacerbate a problem in the making, or even create one.
We all know that we should avoid eating too much salt or fat, and the same is true for your dog. Dogs that eat a lot of human food such as table scraps are apt to be eating more fat and salt than is healthy for them, which can all contribute to heart problems down the line.
Diabetes can either be present from birth, in the case of type one diabetes, or develop in later life, as is the case with type two. Type two diabetes occurs when the body is unable to convert the insulin produced by the pancreas into a useful enzyme to digest glucose, and this is one condition for which diet and weight play a huge part for the dog.
A dog that has spent most of their life overweight, and/or eating lots of fatty, salty or sugary foods is at much higher risk of developing diabetes than a fit, lean dog fed a balanced diet. Feeding your dog a good balanced diet throughout their life can help to prevent this, and if your dog is diagnosed as diabetic, they will likely need to be fed a diabetes-specific food for the remainder of their life after this.
Pancreatitis is an inflammatory condition of the pancreas, which leads to the digestive enzymes present within this organ being released into the abdomen, where they can break down protein and fat inappropriately.
Too much fat in the diet can lead to pancreatitis, as this stimulates the hormone that triggers the pancreas to release more digestive hormones, placing your dog at risk of a flare-up.
If your dog is prone to pancreatitis, they will usually be prescribed a low-fat diet that will help to prevent future flare-ups. Again, taking care over what you feed to your dog throughout their life, and keeping their fat intake within healthy parameters, can help to avoid a problem developing in the first place.