Why You Should NEVER Let Your Dog Decide What it Eats

One of the most common reasons people give for their choice of dog food is because the dog “will eat it” or “likes” it. But this is a very bad idea.

Frankly, this is the worst way to choose a dog food – and you could be harming your dog’s health by doing so.

Your response to this is likely to be one of the following:

“Well my dog is fussy – and it has to eat something or it will starve”

“How could the food I use be harming my dog?”

“How do I get my dog to eat something then if it just downright refuses?”

There is a simple answer to each of these, which I will cover here. But firstly, why is it such a bad idea to only feed a dog what it “wants” to eat. Simply put, many dog foods contain poor ingredients that can harm your dog over the short and long term. The include grain wastes, cereals and all sorts of by-products to name just a few. They are a cheap form of bulk that, if you served to a dog in their raw form, you would see just how unappetizing and inedible the stuff actually is. So to make this palatable to the dog, manufacturers use flavorings that can cause all sorts of health problems, both short term and long term.

The food is, in reality “junk food” for dogs.

If you find this hard to believe, consider human “junk” food. Would you feed your children a constant diet of burgers, fries, chocolate bars and sugary drinks and expect them to stay healthy? Even if they told you they were the foods they wanted to eat and that they preferred them to vegetables and fruit? “Junk” food is perfectly legal (and some claim to be healthy) but you certainly now that it’s harmful in anything other than small doses.

You probably wouldn’t have too much of a discussion about it with your children and you wouldn’t allow them to only eat junk food. You know what is good for them and they will do what you tell them.

So why aren’t people the same with their pets? Why do people get more concerned when their dog seems to be fussier than their children? It all comes down to the ‘myths’ which pet food companies spend vast amounts of money to perpetrate.

When you are considering what food to feed your dog, remember the following:

  1. Most dogs are not fussy (yes, that includes yours!). If a dog is being offered a decent food, there is no reason why it should not be palatable and enjoyable to them. Fussy dogs are the result of the attitude and behavior of the owner! We have proven this to be the case with literally dozens of dogs.
  2. A dog will not starve itself if food is offered. Dogs are natural scavengers and will (like every other creature on the planet) eat virtually anything to survive. If your dog is going for days about eating it is because you are sending it confusing messages about eating. However, eventually (if you don’t give in first!) it is going to eat.
  3. The best way to ensure your dog is going to he happy and healthy is to feed it a good food. And the only way to tell a good food? Look at the ingredients. Don’t look at the front of the bag, look on the back! Go for a food that has a high meat content, where a named meat is the first stated ingredient, preferably in meal form. Avoid foods with any by-products, wheat, beef, cereals – and of course anything artificial.

Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are two greats food with only quality ingredients – very high meat content, and no by products or cheap fillers and waste products. They are foods that you can feel safe are providing the best nutrition possible.

However, if your dog is showing any fussy behavior let us know and we can help. It’s almost certainly going to be something in your approach to feeding, not the food itself.

For peace of mind with your dog’ s health feed Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic, avaliable from www.petfooddirect.co.nz.

How to Stop Your Dog Itching and Scratching

One of the most common problems that dogs suffer from is excessive scratching and biting. Many dogs seem to do this almost constantly. It is not only obviously stressful to the dog, it can be very irritating to the dog owner. It can be annoying to see your dog scratching itself all day!

Unfortunately, it is such a widespread problem that many dog owners have come to see a scratching dog as acceptable, and perhaps even almost normal. However, it is neither natural or normal for a dog to scratch more than just occasionally. Think of yourself: if you were constantly scratching your own skin you would think there was something wrong. It is the same with a dog.

A dog that scratches itself on a regular basis is showing clear signs of a skin irritation. Other ways a skin problem can be expressed are if it licks or bites its paws or rubs itself against surfaces such as a piece of furniture or even the ground. All of these are signs of great discomfort for the dog as it attempts to get rid of the irritation. Of course, the problem is that by scratching, biting, chewing or rubbing it will probably only make the situation worse. That is why it is so important to find the cause of the problem and eliminate it.

So what is it that actually causes these skin irritations in the first place? When confronted with the problem, the first thing that most dog owners think of is fleas. It is true that fleas can cause this, but it is actually not one of the major causes by any means. However, it is simple to eliminate fleas as the cause. Simply check the dog’s coat and skin carefully with a flea comb (available from most pet shops). If you find any evidence of fleas, including flea excrement, then there are many solutions readily available from a vet or pet store that should eradicate the fleas

However, in most instances of skin problems in dogs, you won’t find that fleas are the cause at all. The major cause is going to be some sort of allergy. There are many things that a dog can have an allergic reaction to. It is obviously very important to identify what the specific problem is for your dog and eliminate it from its life.

It’s important to realize that because allergies are the main cause of skin problems, simply applying a cream or shampoo is not going to solve the problem. It may alleviate the symptoms for a short while, or even give the dog some temporary relief, but it is not going to eliminate the cause of the issue. It will also cost you unnecessary time and money in vet visits and creams, lotions or shampoos. It’s far better to isolate the true cause of the problem. Once identified and eliminated the symptoms will disappear of their own accord.

Some of the most common sources of skin allergies in dogs are:

  1. Their environment. Is there something that your dog comes in contact with on a regular basis that does not agree with them? It could be something artificial that you have around your home such as air freshener, furniture polish or a household cleaning product. Alternatively, it could be something natural such as a grass or plant or something in the air. If the problem occurs only at a particular time of year (such as spring), it could indicate a pollen or dust allergy, as these are more prevalent at certain times of the year.
  2. Their food. There are a huge range of dog foods available on the market these days. Many of these contain ingredients that can cause problems for some dogs. Dogs have a different digestive system to humans and they react to different types of food in different ways. This is why it is very important to be aware of what you are feeding your dog and the affects it may be having.

By a simple process of elimination it should be possible to identify what is really creating the skin irritations that are causing your dog to scratch and bite itself. It may take some time, but your dog will thank you for it.

If you would like more details on a quick and natural method to eliminate your dog’s skin problems and stop it from scratching and biting, read renowned dog health consultant Milan Franks’ acclaimed book, “The Dog Allergy Cure: The Natural Way to Stop Your Dog Itching, Scratching and Biting.” For more information visit www.dogallergycure.com.

Dogs and Fireworks: How to Help Your Pet Through Guy Fawkes Night

The time around Guy Fawkes can be quite stressful for animals. The unexpected sights and sounds of fireworks can be very frightening and it can result in panic attacks and erratic behaviour. Although you can’t control the fireworks happening in your neighbourhood, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the pain of the experience for your pet.

Remember that the stress is caused by the dog’s fear of the unknown. It simply doesn’t know or understand what is going on. Therefore, trying to ‘explain’ to it not to be scared is both pointless and a waste of time. It sounds obvious, but many owners attempt to soothe their dog by talking to it as they would to a child. You want to comfort your dog, but talking logically to it is not the way to do it!

The first thing to do is to minimise the sights and sounds of the fireworks in your dog’s environment. You can do this by closing the blinds or curtains so the dog does not see the fireworks in the air. Also, consider turning on some music or turning up the volume on the TV or radio to reduce the impact of the noise of the fireworks.

Also, keep your dog inside and make sure their bed is handy (if they don’t have a bed you could make them one). This will create a safe place for the dog where it can go to relax if it wants to. This is especially important if you are intending on going out for the evening yourself and leaving them alone.

One of the most important ways to prepare your dog for Guy Fawkes night takes place earlier during the day. If you can, take them for a nice long walk. This will both tire them out and make them more relaxed. Early in the evening is the best time, soon before all the ‘action’ is going to start happening. Then, when you return after the walk, continue to maintain a calm and relaxed atmosphere in the house; don’t get the dog excited over mealtime, for instance.

If your dog starts to show signs of stress when the fireworks start happening, there are things you can do to calm him down. Most importantly, remember your dog is looking to you for guidance and trust. Dogs are pack animals and instinctively want to rely on someone else to make their decisions for him. (In fact, do you really want to make your dog happy? Simply let it know that you will make all of of its decisions).

So above all you must display calm yourself and show your dog that that is how you want it to behave also. Let it know that you are in charge and that it will come to no harm. To do this, do not react to your dog’s stressful state. This includes trying to comfort them which can in fact make things worse. Instead, calmly yet firmly hold your dog by the collar. Stay very calm yourself and do not react to anything the dog is doing. Do not say anything or use any soothing words. If you maintain this state, in time your dog will begin to calm down and sit or lie down. Let go of them only when they lie down and seem quite relaxed.

This may take a few minutes. However, by keeping a calm yet unwavering attitude yourself, your dog is going to eventually see that you are in control and that there is nothing to fear. If it shows signs of stress again you can repeat the process.

Guy Fawkes is one of those times that is simply not ‘dog friendly’. However, by doing the above you can make the experience at least tolerable for your pet while still having fun yourself.

For more great dog and puppy training ideas check out New Zealand’s own dog trainer Doggy Dan at The Online Dog Trainer website.