Providing a complete, balanced diet that is appropriate for your dog’s life stage is a vitally important part of ensuring that they remain happy, healthy and fit into old age. However, while failing to feed an appropriate balanced diet will almost certainly lead to later health problems, weigh problems or complications, on its own, sometimes simply feeding a good quality appropriate diet may not be enough.
With the best will in the world, many of us will run into problems with our dog’s health and condition at some stage over the course of their life, despite doing the best we can by them in terms of providing an appropriate diet. Fortunately, sometimes supplemental feeding or providing dog-sized portions of some foodstuffs that would not usually make it into the diet of the average dog can often make a big difference to the treatment or management of a range of ongoing or recurrent conditions.
Read on to find out more about ten health and condition problems in dogs that can be helped by feeding some supplemental foodstuffs.
Bad breath, plaque and gingivitis can affect dogs in the same way as humans, often to a much greater extent, as not all pet owners begin a dental care and cleaning routine with their dogs while they are still young. Veterinary dental treatment sessions and feeding a special complete dry food aimed at combating dental problems may sometimes be required, but you can also help to protect your dog’s teeth and go some way towards keeping plaque to a minimum by feeding abrasive treats that work to rub plaque from the teeth, such as carrot sticks and broccoli stalks.
A dull coat is one of the clearest indicators of something missing from the diet, which may mean that your dog’s normal complete food is not fulfilling all of their nutritional needs. Consider changing to a different foodstuff, and supplementally feeding products containing biotin, a B vitamin that helps with the condition of the skin and coat, such as fruits, berries and brewer’s yeast.
Caring for a dog with a suppressed or compromised immune system, whatever the cause, can be a challenge, as these dogs are much more vulnerable to suffering from a range of conditions and illnesses that will further attack their systems.
Foods that are high in antioxidants such as green tea or green tea supplements, and berries such as raspberries and blueberries, can all provide a natural boost.
Some dogs are rather more prone to digestive upset than others, which can come about due to allergies and sensitivities, stress, and many other potential root causes. Ginger, natural mint and dill can all help to calm down a sensitive or upset stomach and make you dog’s life a little more comfortable.
Many dogs begin to lose their vision as they age, a natural decline that is usually progressive and irreversible. However, there are various foods that you can feed to help to slow down this gradual decline, and help your dog to retain his eyesight well into old age. Omega-3 fats such as DHA, which is found in fish oil can help, as can Vitamin A rich foods including liver and egg, and orange fruits and vegetables like carrots and oranges.
If your dog is particularly highly-strung or prone to stress, you may already be using a range of calming supplements and foodstuffs designed to keep your dog on an even keel. If you haven’t already considered doing so, think about adding natural calming herbs such as chamomile or valerian root to their diet.
While most dogs need little encouragement to eat, it can be a challenge to feed a picky eater or encourage a reluctant dog to eat enough food to maintain their weight and provide all of the necessary nutrients. You can often tempt a reluctant eater by mixing things up a little, with some protein-rich and healthy additions to their regular food, such as cooked egg, cooked lean chicken, the water or brine from tinned tuna, or low salt, low calorie cottage cheese.
Arthritis and other problems of the joints should be addressed in a combined approach including weight management to reduce the pressure on the joints, and keeping the joints lubricated and reducing inflammation. Broccoli, cranberries, raspberries and oily fish can all help with this, and can help to prevent existing problems from progressing as quickly as they otherwise would.
If your dog is prone to piling on the pounds, it is important to check this and tackle the problem before it gets out of hand and difficult to manage. This may mean changing the food that your dog eats, and/or reducing their portion sizes. However, a dog that is left hungry will be unhappy and more likely to beg or scavenge for food, so keeping them feeling full while reducing their calorie intake is important. More filler and less high protein content is required here, and you can bulk out your dog’s meals with the addition of fibre such as that found in broccoli, green beans, pumpkin or squashes.
At the opposite end of the scale, some dogs can tend to err rather on the thin side, and their nervous energy, activity levels or desire to eat small portions can make it hard to keep them at a healthy weight. Supplementing their normal diet with a little added protein and fat can help, such as by including a spoonful of flaxseed oil or peanut butter to their dishes, or offering cooked egg, fish, chicken, or even a few cubes of cheese.