The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.
By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast
As pet owners, we want our pets to be more than just “fine,” we want them to be healthy and happy. One of the most common questions that concerns dog owners is: “Does my dog get tired of eating the same thing every day?”
At Bark + Boarding we pride ourselves on offering some of the healthiest varieties of pet food available for your pup. While most dogs probably won’t “get tired of” their food, introducing variety into your dog’s diet could benefit your dog’s health if done correctly.
When considering a dog’s dietary needs, a good place to start is looking at what wild dogs eat. Their instincts teach them which foods to seek out to stay healthy.
According to “What do Wolves Eat?” an informative website designed to reduce fear of wolves, wolves prefer to hunt large hoofed animals, such as deer, bison, moose, elk, cattle and caribou. But they also supplement their diets with “smaller prey like rabbits, beavers, rodents and waterfowl.”
It might surprise you to learn that wolves also hunt for fruits and vegetables. They commonly eat “blueberries, ash berries, apples, and pears,” and they are known for sniffing out and raiding farmers’ vegetables.
From this we learn that our dogs need the vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, just like humans do. Dog foods that include fruits and veggies are usually called “holistic diet” foods. However, the “holistic” label is not legally defined the way the term “GMO” is, so your best bet is to read the ingredient list.
Dog foods that include fruits and veggies as primary ingredients do so in an effort to reduce the amount of synthetic vitamins and minerals required in a processed food. From the wolves’ diet, we also learn that wild dogs have a variety of proteins in their diet. It can certainly benefit your dog’s overall health to include various proteins in their food.
There are some guidelines you will want to consider if you plan to add variety to your dog’s diet.
First, it is a good idea to stick with either a grain or grain-free diet. A dog’s stomach works differently to digest different products. Vacillating between the two could cause your dog to develop a previously non-existent grain allergy or sensitivity.
Second, consider remaining in the same brand of food on a regular basis. For example, feed Merrick chicken and then Merrick buffalo. These have two different protein sources but the rest of their ingredients are similar in type and proportion.
Switching between brands would mean changing more of the normal ingredients. Jumping right into a new food with a completely new ingredient list can upset your dog’s stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
Third, it may be best to switch the food by bag or by month, rather than day to day. For example, finish the bag of Merrick chicken food before giving Merrick buffalo, instead of alternating the days. This should reduce the stress on your dog’s digestive system and ensure that the food stays fresh.
There are other options for adding variety to your dog’s diet. For example, you may want to supplement your dry food with a wet food of a different protein. You could also add freeze-dried or homemade meats and veggies to your dog’s bowl.
For dogs with especially sensitive digestive systems, you may consider choosing a single food that has two primary proteins, such as Acana Singles Formula food. Regardless, your dog’s taste buds and health will appreciate your efforts to feed your dog well!
Want to give one of these options a try? Stop by Bark + Boarding anytime in July or August for 50 percent off any Stella + Chewy’s Meal Mixers or 20 percent off a bag of Acana Singles Formula!