Tag Archives: nutrition for dogs

5 Common Dog Illnesses that are Impacted by Nutrition


A high quality, well-balanced diet is fundamental to your dog’s health, but do you know why? Here are just a few canine health problems seen in dogs that are directly affected by their diet.


Obesity is a nationwide epidemic for our dogs, affecting over 50% of American dogs1. Even worse, dogs affected by obesity are more prone to arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), decreased life expectancy is also linked to obesity in pets, and unfortunately, among all pets that veterinarians ultimately classified as obese, over 90% of dog owners initially thought their pet was in the normal weight range

Pay special attention to the calorie and fat levels of your dog’s food. While they are both important to the diet, an overabundance of either can cause or exacerbate obesity in dogs. Likewise, finding a proper dog diet that limits calories and fats can help trim down an overweight or obese dog and, ultimately, help your dog live a more healthy lifestyle.

Determine your pet’s ideal weight by consulting your veterinarian or by using petMD’s Healthy Weight Calculator.


Pancreatitis develops when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing the flow of digestive enzymes to be released into the abdominal area. If this occurs, the digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in the other organs, as well as in the pancreas.

“In dogs, dietary fat is known to be associated with the development of pancreatitis and can stimulate the secretion of a hormone that induces the pancreas to secrete its digestive hormones,” says Jennifer Coates, DVM. Consult your veterinarian to see if your dog’s current dietary fat intake may be increasing his or her risk of pancreatitis. If your dog is already suffering from pancreatitis, Dr. Coates recommends a bland dog diet that is low in fat and easily digestible.


All bladder stones are not created equal. They can be composed of different types of minerals and other substances. For example, calcium oxalate bladder stones are primarily composed of calcium while struvites are primarily composed of magnesium and phosphates (phosphorus). Bladder stones may start out small, but over time can grow in number and/or size, causing issues such as urinary accidents, discolored urine, and urination straining.

Speak with a veterinarian if you believe your dog is suffering from bladder stones. They can identify the type of bladder stone and recommend a food to dissolve the stone, or surgery to remove it if it is a type that cannot be dissolved with food, like calcium oxalates. They can also recommend a special diet that can help deter the formation of bladder stones.

Even if your dog isn’t currently suffering from bladder stones, he or she may benefit from a diet that is lower in calcium and phosphorus. Your veterinarian will know what’s best for your dog’s situation.


Dogs often have issues with heart disease like we do, especially if their diet isn’t properly balanced. One key factor to heart disease in dogs is their sodium (salt) intake. “Increased sodium in the diet causes increased levels of sodium circulating in the blood,” says Ken Tudor, DVM. “These elevated levels of sodium cause water retention in the blood vessels and elevated blood pressure. As blood pressure increases the diseased heart must continue to enlarge to overcome the increased pressure in order to pump blood from the ventricles.”

Are you feeding your dog table scraps? Is your dog’s current food too high in sodium? Talk to your veterinarian about these things and how your dog may benefit from a healthy diet that is lower in sodium.


Dogs frequently suffer from bouts of diarrhea, but there are two main types of diarrhea: small bowel and large bowel diarrhea. “Dogs with small bowel diarrhea typically produce large amounts of soft stool but do so just a few times a day,” says Dr. Coates. “When abnormalities are centered in the colon, affected dogs will usually strain to produce small amounts of watery stool frequently throughout the day. This is large bowel diarrhea.”

“For large bowel diarrhea,” says Dr. Coates “a high fiber diet has been shown to be beneficial. Ideally, both soluble fiber (the type colonic bacteria use for food) and insoluble (indigestible) fiber should be included.” For small bowel diarrhea, Dr. Coates recommends a bland, low fat, easily digested diet.

Discuss with your veterinarian how fat, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and other dietary nutrients play an important role in your dog’s health. He or she may even have important new dietary recommendations to consider for your dog’s specific life stage and lifestyle.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372

Dog Nutritional Requirements

Good dog  nutrition is no accident. It takes time and patience to learn what your dog needs to stay healthy, happy and active. It also takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants: dog nutritional requirements.

To make your job a little easier, here are some tips to ensure your pet gets all of his nutritional needs met.

1. Why is good dog nutrition important?

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, among other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

2. How often should I feed my dog?

Puppies under 3 months of age should be fed at least four times a day. Puppies between 3 and 5 months of age should be given three meals a day. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day. Dogs like routine, so establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. A good time to feed him is during the family meals. This will occupy him while the rest of the family is eating.

3. How much should I feed my dog?

The amount your og needs to eat depends on many factors, including: life stage (puppy, adult, pregnant or lactating), lifestyle (active versus the “coach potato”), size and general condition. Select a high quality food, weigh your dog (don’t try to guess) and then read the feeding guidelines provided on the package. Remember, though, that every dog is unique, so you might have to adjust his feeding accordingly. Click here to learn more about Feeding Your Adult Dog.

4. Is it okay to give my dog bones to chew on?

You should only give “bones” that have been designed for dogs to chew on. Bones, especially chicken bones, can splinter and become lodged in a dog’s mouth. If swallowed, they can cause constipation, or even bloody diarrhea (the result of fragments scraping the colon). Round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw and if swallowed, can get stuck in the esophagus.

5. When should I change from puppy to adult food?

Puppy food is different from adult food. It is designed for a rapidly growing pup. In his first year, your puppy will grow very quickly. You can begin to switch to an adult diet when he reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most dogs, this occurs around 9 months of age. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes, have special needs. They require a more specialized diet until they are 12 to 18 months of age. Learn more about how to adjust to your dog’s nutritional requirements by reading the article When to Change from Puppy Food to Adult Food.

6. How do I change my pet’s diet?

Don’t change his diet all at once. Do it gradually over three days. Begin changing his diet by feeding 1/4 adult food and 3/4 puppy food for a few days. Then add 1/2 adult food and 1/2 puppy food. After a few more days, feed 3/4 adult food and 1/4 puppy food. Then, you can feed straight adult food.

7. Can my dog be a vegetarian?

Believe it or not, yes, your dog can be a vegetarian, as long as his meals are well balanced with protein from other sources. There are a number of commercially available vegetarian foods, but you should first discuss his diet with your veterinarian.

8. Are rawhides bad for my dog?

Many people give rawhides to their pet as a toy and to help their teeth. It is theorized that dogs like rawhides, due to their natural instincts as wild dogs. But pets with a history of vomiting, special dietary needs, diarrhea or allergies may have a bad reaction to rawhide. Talk with your veterinarian about whether to give your dog rawhide or not. For more information, see Rawhide, Cowhide: Are They Good or Bad for Your Pet?

9. Can my dog eat cat food?

Your dog may survive on cat food, but he won’t thrive. Dogs and cats are different species, with their own nutritional requirements. Although a dog will get the necessary nutrients, he will be ingesting excess protein and fats that a cat requires to stay healthy. Over time, this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

10. What is in dog food anyway?

Dog food contains a variety of agricultural ingredients, such as meat, poultry, seafood and feed grain byproducts. (Byproducts are parts of an animal or plant not used for human consumption. They still must meet federal standards for safety and nutrition.) Vitamins and minerals are added to complete nutritional needs. Preservatives are added to keep dog food fresh during shipping and while on the shelf, and color is added to make the food look more attractive. The coloring and preservatives are the same used in food for people and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Association of American Feed Control Officials publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” pet food. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Read the label.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372