The Dog’s Perspective: Food and Water
Food, Water and Shelter are vital necessities for the long-term health and survival of every living being, including humans and dogs. Discussion of the fundamental importance of shelter and its ultimate affect on your dog’s behavior is at The Dog’s Perspective: Inside or Outside Dogs. Here we address the importance of food and water, the elixir of life and the sustenance that provides nourishment to keep living beings alive.
Water – The Elixir of Life
Water truly is the elixir of life because life requires water. We are approximately 70% water, with some parts of our bodies (e.g. blood) more watery than other parts (e.g. bone). Water hydrates our cells and makes our kidneys smile. This is true for humans, dogs and other furry mammals. Water is necessary for our bodies to metabolize food and convert food energy into energy for our bodies to do work, grow, reproduce or chill-out. In other words, water is necessary for all lives, including our dogs.
Drinking Water & Medical Conditions
Fresh, clean water should be freely available to dog companions. Other than medical directives, water should not be restricted. In fact, observe your pet’s behavior in drinking water and noting any variation from normal water consumption is a great way to monitor your pup’s health. Abnormal water consumption may indicate an underlying medical condition. Dogs drinking too much water or not enough water can be problematic. Never restrict water for any reason that is not under the medical directions of a veterinarian. Both new and seasoned pet owners admit to limiting water availability to reduce their dog’s need to urinate. Overnight in a crate, especially during potty training, is fine. However, under normal conditions, water should be freely available. Restricting water intake can be extremely detrimental to your dog’s health. Unnecessary restriction of water taxes a dog’s body, especially their kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure. So, for their kidneys’ sake, please provide water freely ad lib.
Dog Food – They are What They Eat
Dog food is a multi-billion-dollar business. This is not surprising. Pet stores are often a confusing maze of dog food choices. You have heard the saying “you are what you eat”. The same is true for your dogs and other animals, wild or domesticated. Junk in is junk out. Healthy in is healthy out. Voluminous medical studies demonstrate that poor nutrition leads to poor health, for dogs and humans alike. Unhealthy diets will cause pervasive physiological inflammation, which is detrimental to your dog’s well-being and the root cause of many devastating diseases, including cancer.
Dogs are Omnivorous Carnivores
Dogs are carnivores. The word carnivore translates into “devours flesh”. With a few exceptions, meat is the primary component of the carnivore’s diet. Dogs are in the taxonomic Order Carnivora along with other familiar carnivores like wolves, cats, bears, otters, skunks, weasels and ferrets. Some carnivore species are obligate meat-eaters that require an all-meat diet (e.g., cats, polar bears), while other carnivores have a diversified, more omnivorous diet (e.g., dogs, bears). Being an omnivorous carnivore, dogs enjoy eating a variety vegetables, fruits and berries. Some dogs like plant-based food so much, they will even eat it out of a rotting compost bin. Black bears are the same as dogs. However, please do not confuse a dogs’ love for eating vegetation as a sign that dogs can exist exclusively on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Dogs are carnivores, not herbivores and not omnivores. Based on their biology, behavior and evolutionary history, dogs are omnivorous carnivores. In other words, dogs have a meat-based diet, but also enjoy non-meat foods like vegetables, fruits and berries.
Types of Dog Food: Raw, Wet & Dry
The quality of dog food consumed greatly affects the health of dogs – makes logical sense. Regardless if the food is raw, dry or wet (canned), the quality of the food really matters. Dry dog foods are by far the most common type of food to feed dogs, compared to raw and wet diets. Some reasons dry foods are preferred to raw and wet foods include the convenience of purchasing, feeding and storing dry foods. Dry foods also tend to be less expensive than wet or raw foods, and overall better for their teeth. However, the quality of dog foods are quite variable, and many dog owners are lost when it comes to finding the best food for their dogs.
How to Find the Best Quality Dog Food
An excellent website to help you select dog food that is perfect for your pet is “DogFoodAdvisor.com“. The site divides dog foods into the three categories: raw, wet and dry foods. Within each categories, the website rates dog foods on a five-star rating system based on food quality criteria. Regardless if you choose to feed a diet that is raw, wet or dry, our recommendation is to select foods rated as five-star quality. If you want to purchase your dog food locally, choose a five-star brand that is available locally. Have the five-star list ready when you visit your local pet stores. If you prefer to order your dog food online, then your selection greatly increases. Links to the ratings of dog foods are below.
- Raw: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/raw/
- Wet: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/wet/
- Dry: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/dry/
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD offers concierge dog training through Lucky Dog Training and has over 30 years of dog training experience. Kathryn is authoring a book series The Dog’s Perspective: How to Train Your Dog by Thinking like a Dog (soon to be released). Volume 1 is The Right Start, an easy to read, go to source of information for anyone wanting to train their dog.