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Monday, June 9, 2014

When to Consider a Dog Food Change

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Tanner Tastes it Already!
Okay, Tanner. Stop with the hambone stuff. I'm not opening that bag just yet. Let's get our blog post written first!

I often get emails and questions about pet food. Recently I heard from a very confused and frustrated pet parent with a question about her dog's food. She made one very good point in her questions: there are so many different categories of food that each appear to have some potential value for her dog. How is she to know which to choose? An excellent question indeed!

Here's a few thoughts to help guide you if you're on a quest to select the right food for your own furry friend. First and foremost, get your veterinarian to help you understand if there is anything about your pet's health that could be improved upon. That's always a good place to start. Is Pumpkin a little pudgy? Perhaps a lower calorie diet and some extra exercise would serve well.

What about allergies? If your dog has an unknown itchiness that does not occur seasonally, but rather is ongoing throughout the year, he may have a food allergy. It's tough to know what your particular dog may be sensitive to, so an elimination diet is usually a good way to figure it out. Talk to your dog's vet about where to start, asking particularly which foods are the most common allergans for dogs of your Fido's particular breed or breeds. 

Many dog owners believe that grains are at the heart of the allergy problems occurring in the pet community. In response to this, most pet food makers have introduced grain free foods to help these families try another route to healthier skin. My mother's Papillon, Jacque, has been especially successful on the ORGANIX Small Breed Grain Free diet. Toy-sized dogs are not the only ones with allergies, however, so ORGANIX also has a version that is perfect for your bigger dog: Grain Free Adult ORGANIX. Every dog is different, so don't assume that your neighbor's dog food choice will be a hit at your house. 

If neither weight or allergies are issues with your pet, you may want to ask yourself these other questions that could prompt a need to consider a change:

  • Is my dog a senior, at least 7 years of age? Your elder Fido may require extra nutritional support to maintain a healthy weight to a ripe old age. Consider ORGANIX Weight Management recipe for fewer calories overall, ideal for senior dogs with lower activity levels.
  • Why does my dog struggle to eat all his food? There are many answers to this question. He could simply need more exercise to feel hungry. Have you considered dental issues or possibly his kibble is too large and difficult to chew? Get him mouth checked and look into the Small breed formula made by ORGANIX or the canned varieties that can stimulate a healthy appetite while being easier to eat for your pint-sized pup.
  • Why is my puppy never satisfied?  If you have a growing little one, choose the ORGANIX Puppy Formula to assure that your munchkin will get appropriate nutrition throughout the growth cycle. Following the guidelines on the bag, you can adjust his food quantity regularly as he grows to his healthy adult weight. As your go through this phase, be sure to weigh your puppy frequently and get your vet's opinion on his weight and health.
  • What about my Large Breed dog; are his nutritional needs being met by a dog food formulated for all adult dogs?  You can make sure your Newfoundland or Great Dane get the nutrients they need in a formula made to meet their needs, ORGANIX Large Breed Adult Formula.
  • Are my less active dog's food requirements being met by his current food? If you're just not sure, he could benefit from the ORGANIX Weight Management formula, created for more sedentary or overweight dogs. Again, don't forget to get your vet's thoughts on how much to feed given your dog's specific situation. Weigh him frequently to stay on track.
  • I think my dog may have a chicken allergy; what can you recommend? Under the Castor and Pollux umbrella of brands, you'll also find Natural Ultramix. This brand includes a Grain Free and Poultry Free formula.
  • I'm not sure my dog is getting enough fiber and vitamins. Can you recommend
    Layer Ultrablend with Kibble and Freeze
    something to enhance these areas of his diet? Absolutely! Tanner and Oliver absolutely love the new Natural Ultramix Ultrablend food supplement. This is a canned, wholefood puree available in two mouth-watering flavors: Pumpkin and Sweet Potato. These products can be served by replacing up to 10 percent of your pet's food with a dollop of topping. As an alternative, it also makes a nice filling for a frozen Kong or other fillable toy to be served as an afternoon snack.
  • My dog seems to lack the bright eyes, shiny coat, or healthy teeth and gums that I'd like to see. Should I switch him to organic food to see if he improves?  Why not?!!! Cleaning up your dog's diet can never hurt him. Removing the artificial preservatives, colors, fillers and additives will no doubt leave your pup looking and feeling better in a few short weeks.
  • My dog is losing weight or seems to lack sufficient energy to enjoy his walks. What do you suggest? It sounds like this dog may require a bit more caloric load. Often this can be accomplished by adding some canned food to his kibble, or by gauging his needs and serving a delicious canned food variety such as the Butcher and Bushel line. First things first, however; visit the vet for a physical to make sure all is well within. Then feel free to touch base with the Pet Parent Relations team at Castor and Pollux for a recommendation that will perk up this pup. You can reach them via their Facebook page or Twitter.
You may have heard me talk about the transition that is important to making a pet food change go smoothly. Our dogs and cats have tummies that are sensitive to sudden changes in food, especially when fat content or major ingredients are introduced without a period of gradual adjustment. 

When purchasing a new food for your pet, allow 5-7 days to gradually increase the amount of new food in his bowl, while reducing the former choice at the same rate. After the transition is complete, watch your dog carefully for 2 weeks, screening for any changes that could alert you to an allergy or other problem.
Take Time to Bond with Your Dogs
Once your dog is on the right meal choice for him or her, don't forget to continually build in time to train and bond. Just like humans, dogs need to be active, learn and enjoy love throughout their lives. Join us at All Things Dog Blog for a gentle yoga exercise series that will offer you a chance to workout at home with your dog, enjoying a wonderful bonding time. You'll find our short, instructional Doga videos here. It's up to you now; go have some fun! 

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As my primary advertiser, Castor and Pollux Pet compensates me for the ad you see at the top of my posts column. As their biggest fan, I serve their food to my dogs and recommend it whole heartedly. This column was written entirely by me and contains my own opinions only.


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