Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. There are many excellent products on the shelves today that are labeled “complete and balanced” and meet the AAFCO’s nutrient profiles. Ask your veterinarian for advice on a particular food that will meet your pet’s particular needs for lifestage and activity level.

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Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

If a dog food is labeled “complete and balanced”, it means that it provides your pet the right amounts (in the right proportions) of every single nutrient that your dog`s body needs: every day, every meal.
Research has proven, and your veterinarian will tell you, that a healthy, well-balanced diet for your dog must include whole-food ingredients that provide the following: protein, fats and fatty acids, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Digestive issues and sensitivities aside, a properly-balanced diet of chicken and rice can be a great, nutritious choice for any dog, from growing puppies to senior pets.
A balanced diet contains an adequate amount of all the nutrients required by the body to grow, remain healthy and be disease-free. In addition, a healthy, balanced diet provides the necessary energy requirement, protects against vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional deficiencies, and builds up immunity.
This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
The top five ingredients in dog food should consist of a balance of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and fatty acids, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Are carrots safe for me to feed my dog?” While some of the vegetables we love are unsafe to feed our dogs, carrots are a perfectly safe and nutritious treat for your dog.
Broccoli is safe for dogs to eat frozen, raw or cooked, plus it`s packed full of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli should be treated as an occasional snack and the florets, in particular, should only be eaten in small amounts.
Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Includes a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, nuts, and seeds. Is low in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.
Potatoes for health and nutrition

They`re rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Potatoes were a life-saving food source in early times because the vitamin C prevented scurvy. Another major nutrient in potatoes is potassium, an electrolyte which aids in the workings of our heart, muscles, and nervous system.

The 95 Percent Rule: At least 95 percent of the product must be the named ingredient, for example, “Chicken for Dogs,” or “Salmon Dog Food,” must include at least 95 percent of chicken or salmon, respectively. In addition, this main product must be at least 70 percent of the total product when counting the added water.
The general rule of thumb for a home-made diet for a healthy canine patient is 75% meat/15%vegetables/10% carbohydrate. Variety is the key to a healthy diet so be sure to vary your meat, carbohydrate and vegetable sources from time to time.
When grains are used, look for high quality whole grains such as “whole brown rice.” • Whole fruits and vegetables, especially as replacement for grains in food, high up on the ingredients list. Organic ingredients. Avoid: Foods that contain unidentified “meat,” “animal,” “poultry,” or “fish” products in their food.
Apples, bananas, strawberries, oranges, blueberries, pears, peaches, coconuts, and watermelons are all safe for your dog. #SpoonTip: Be careful about only feeding your dog the proper parts of the fruit. Things like peach pits are not safe for their digestion.
To recap, potatoes are safe for most dogs in moderation. In order to be safe, potatoes need to be fully cooked. Raw potatoes and excessive amounts of potato skins are not safe for dogs because of the substances they contain.
Eggs are not only a perfectly safe food source for dogs – they offer much in the way of nutritional benefits. Aside from being rich in protein, eggs are also a great source of linoleic acid, Vitamin B2 and B12 and water-soluble Vitamin A – all of which are wonderful for your dog`s skin and coat.
Can most dogs eat yogurt? Yes, but that doesn`t necessarily mean that they should. While yogurt is not toxic to dogs, many canines might have trouble digesting it because it contains lactose. And plenty of pups have trouble with foods that contain lactose, such as milk.
To make a long story short, yes, dogs can eat fish, and fish can be a part of a healthy diet for your dog, provided it is fully cooked without any additional oils and seasonings, does not contain any bones, and is not a species prone to high levels of mercury such as tuna.
Dogs can safely eat bread in much the same way as humans—in moderation. Plain white and wheat bread are generally safe for dogs to eat, provided they don`t have any allergies, and it usually does not cause any stomach upset.
Adding small amounts of olive oil to your dog`s food can also help stimulate their digestive system as olive oil acts as a laxative. However, if your dog is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, olive oil should be avoided as it may exacerbate these conditions.
Because cauliflower isn`t toxic for dogs and is also a low-calorie, vitamin-packed vegetable, it makes a great occasional treat for your pet. “Cauliflower is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium and folate,” Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinarian at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital, says.
Cutting back on meat and animal products as well as costlier manufactured plant-based foods will save you money. Eating a more plant-focused or vegan diet – say, for three main meals per week – has the scope to be more affordable, with studies suggesting it may even reduce food costs by up to a third.
So, is sushi healthy? The bottom line is that, yes, sushi is healthy. It contains high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids from fish, plus a great combination of vitamins and minerals. White rice provides carbs for energy, and won`t raise your blood sugar too high because it`s combined with fat and protein.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. How do I determine how much my overweight pet should weigh?
ANSWER : A. There are many tools to determine overweight and obesity levels in pets. A new tool, morphometric measurements and body fat index, are available to accurately determine a pet’s ideal weight; this will allow an accurate determination of the amount of food a pet should receive to achieve weight loss. Feeding the correct amount will lead to greater weight loss success.

There are many weight loss food options to help pets reach their ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help make a ideal weight recommendation. Here are some tips to help your dog lose weight in a healthy and safe way:

1. Diet: Providing a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to your pet’s overall health. Finding the right food for your dog can be a challenging process. For those overweight animals many commercial dog companies offer weight loss diets, but it is important to evaluate food labels for adequate nutritional content.

You want to ensure you are not missing other essential vitamin or mineral content. Volume of food is also important and the amount of food that works for one breed of dog may not be the same for another breed of dog. Portion control as opposed to free-choice feeding can help your dog to drop a few unnecessary pounds.

There are also prescription weight loss foods designed by veterinary nutritionists, such as Hill’s r/d (http://bit.ly/1AoENSd). Some pet owners find that home cooking is the best option for helping to provide a well-balanced and realistic diet plan. There are websites such as balanceit.com that offers recipes to fit your dog’s specific needs. Consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to find the appropriate diet is a great way to help your dog be as healthy as possible.

2. Exercise: Another great tactic for weight loss for your dog is exercise. Whether this is through running, walking or playing with a favorite toy all of these are wonderful types of exercise to help keep your dog at a lean and healthy weight.

For those pet owners with busy schedules utilizing professional dog walking services or playtime through dog daycare services is another option. It has been shown that those pet owners that exercise regularly with their pets generally live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Physical therapy: As animals age pet owners offer encounter their favorite canine having more difficulty walking and have a dwindling desire to play with toys. Physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to help older and arthritic animals gain more mobility and lose weight. Hydrotherapy has been proven to have several therapeutic effects on the body including, muscle strengthening, relief of swelling, decreased joint pain, less stiffness in limbs, improved circulation, weight loss, and increased tissue healing to name a few. For more information on the benefits of hydrotherapy:
http://bit.ly/1w1qqoy

4. Veterinary visit and blood work: Weight gain can also be related to underlying health concerns such as hypothyroidism or other endocrine disorders. Scheduling a veterinary evaluation and routine blood work can be another important component in increasing the longevity of your dog’s life. Conditions such as hypothyroidism that predispose dogs to gain weight can be treated with a daily medication to improve hormonal balance. If feel that your dog is unnecessarily overweight there can be an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.

5. Healthy treats: Pet owners love the chance to reward their favorite canine companion with treats and most dogs jump at the chance to consume these delicious products. The problem is many treats, which can include commercial dog treats or table scrapes can add many unnecessary calories to your dog’s daily intake. Reading labels and making note of the calories in these treats is an important component of understanding your dog’s overall health. Treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories. There are healthier treats that can be offered to your pet to keep calories lower yet provide a fuller sensation. A pet owner can add steamed or pureed vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or sweet potato to add more fiber and thus a fuller feeling for your dog.

Q. Whenever I take my dog on walks he always barks at people and others dogs in my neighborhood. What should I do to resolve the problem
ANSWER : A. The very first thing to do is to make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good, happy dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to, don’t touch, or even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat. To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. Yelling at him is the equivalent of barking with him.

Get your dog accustomed to whatever causes him to bark. Start with whatever makes him bark at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. Oddly, the first step is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.” Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

As in all training, always end training on a good note, even if it is just for obeying something very simple, like the ‘sit’ command. If you dog regresses in training, go back to the last thing he did successfully and reinforce that before moving on again. Keep sessions short, 15-20 minutes max, and do this several times a day.

Q. My cocker spaniel is 9 years old. He has involuntary bowel movements (little drops) very frequently, especially when he is asleep.
ANSWER : A. Is your dog on a senior dog food? I would get your dog on a high quality high protien dog food. Ask a pet store assosicate or your regular vet for a food recommendation. When you buy a better food the dog will have to eat less to get the same amount of energy from the food. The dog has to eat more of the cheaper foods to get the energy it needs from it. Meaning more poop and buying more food. So the cost really evens out. So the lessen your dogs bowel movements get on a better senior dog food. Next talk to your vet they may have a recommendation. If you switch dogs do it slowly by mixing the foods. Start with 10% new 90% old mixed for at least a week until you have switched to 100% new 0% old. Senior foods have more fiber to help with bowel movements. Take the dog outside to go potty more frequently, right before bed time.

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Q. I want to feed a homemade meal for my dog. What are the basics I need to follow?
ANSWER : A. Feeding your pet a homemade meal can be tricky, however there are several steps to take. The first is to begin by examining the ingredients of meals similar to the one you’d like to feed them. Many commercial raw and fresh food diets will feature complete ingredient lists to give you an idea of the portions and types of foods used. Looking up recipes that others have made can also help you find what ingredients are common.

Foods require a balanced level of nutrition that is made up of proteins (your meat source and “slow” energy), carbohydrates (short-term energy and needed for brain health), and fats (for stored energy as well as flavor). Carbohydrates can be in grain form which is most common in commercial diets, or in non-grain sources such as potatoes, peas or sweet potatoes (more common now in “natural” or “holistic” diets). Proteins can come from plant sources, but are most commonly found in animals, and fats can be from many things.

When starting a homemade diet, it is always a good idea to add in an extra vitamin supplement to fill in any gaps or holes in the diet while you find the right balance for your dog. Working with your local veterinarian is also good as they can monitor your dog’s weight and overall health, and may also recommend bloodwork to check for any nutrient deficiencies.

While homemade diets are a nice alternative to commercial ones, they are not under the same standards as commercial diets. For a diet to be fed as a commercial product, it must have an AAFCO certification on it. This is usually listed as a statement on the packaging which mentions whom the food can be fed to (adults, seniors, all life stages, puppies, etc) and ensures that the food is nutritionally balanced. This means that your dog would be able to survive fully on eating only this food. While it may seem the food is balanced, it does not mean the food is healthier than others, and may still contain ingredients that dogs with sensitivities or allergies can have a reaction to.

Q. What is the best limited ingredient dog food for a dog with allergies? Can I buy it online or do I need to get it from a vet? Thanks
ANSWER : A. I’m going to recommend a dog food that is extremely expensive, but absolutely worth the price. It is a food that is fantastic for dogs with many allergies because it is essentially just air-dried raw meat, muscles, vitamins, and kelp. It is called Ziwipeak http://ziwipeak.com/ and it is the best dog food on the market! I feed it to my dog so I do not have to worry about getting raw-food portions right. If you’re worried about the price, there are so many other types of food out there you’ve probably never heard of. You do not have to get food through the vet in order to find the right food for your dog. Many grain-free foods are typically good for dogs with allergies, brands like Merrick, Taste of the Wild, Orijen, etc are great kibbles. It may be pricey, but it’s all about trial and error here unless your vet can tell you exactly what the allergy is and how to manage it.

Q. Why does my dog eat grass?
ANSWER : A. As another user mentioned, dogs can eat grass when they want to vomit. Sometimes, when a dog has an upset tummy, they will eat grass. If you notice your dog eating grass frantically, you can assume vomiting will shortly follow. Grass does not digest and pass normally. If your dog eats too much grass, it can cause serious issues with pooping. Your dogs poop can end up all tangled inside of her, and it can need veterinary assistance to remove it. The same goes for celery, so avoid feeding celery to your dog.

The other day my boyfriend accidentally left the laundry room door open where we were keeping the trash that was filled with cooked chicken bones. She ate one of the chicken bones lightning fast. We had to induce vomiting by feeding her some hydrogen peroxide. After we had fed her the peroxide, she immediately began frantically eating grass because her tummy was upset.

If there is something lacking in your dogs diet, it could be that your dog is eating grass to make up for it. I am sure that my dogs diet is extremely well balanced (I do not only feed her an air-dried raw food-type diet (Ziwipeak), but a wide variety of safe, healthy foods), so when she eats grass, I know that it is because she has an upset tummy.

That is why I think it is important making sure your dog has a very well balanced diet. If your dog is on a low quality kibble, your dog may be trying to let you know by eating grass (or eating poop).

Q. What brand of dog food should I feed my dog? She’s a husky mix and about 45 lbs. She’s almost 2 years old.
ANSWER : A. I would recommend Natural Balance at your local Petco store. Call the store and ask if they have a Natural Balance Brand rep who comes to the store and see when they come. Make sure the brand rep brings free samples with them. Normally they bring samples of the different flavors to the store and you should ask for some to try to see what your dog likes best. Offer the dog the different kibble and see which they prefer by holding them out in your hands and switch out the flavors. My dog prefered the Salmon based Natural Balance Synergy bag the best from all the flavors. I also found out he doesn’t care for the Bison Natural Balance even though a lot of dogs love it. The Petco may have free samples already so ask if they do. The pet store associates should be able to also assist you in finding the right food for you. The reason you want to go with a high quality high protein food vs the cheaper brands because they are grain free, no by products, and no corn. The cheaper brands have corn in it as the main ingredient and by product which is also very bad. When our dogs are forced to eat the cheaper brands they have to eat more to get the energy they need from the food resulting in more bowel movements and without the proper nutrients this can hurt their health later in life. The higher quality brands will be more cost per bag but you will be buying less because the dog eats less so you will be saving money that way and it comes out about even in the long run. Petco has a great Rewards Program so make sure to sign up and ask about the details on it. Every $100 you spend you get $5 in your email with the Pet Pals Reward Program.

Q. Which common foods are poisonous to pets?
ANSWER : A. That’s a great question. As responsible pet owners we need to be aware of food items that can be harmful to our canine or feline companions. Here are some of the most common foods proven to cause illness in our animals at home:

Chocolate: A favorite and irresistible treat amongst most humans, chocolate is considered toxic to dogs. In very small amounts it is usually not a huge issue, but with larger volumes and with darker chocolates pet owners should be concerned. Chocolate contains methylxanthine theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Chocolate ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, issues with normal heartbeats, seizures, and in some severe cases, death. It is best to keep your favorite chocolate treats in a good hiding spot and out of reach of your dog or cat.

Grapes and raisins: Dogs should not consume grapes and raisins because of the risk of acute kidney failure. Most dogs experiencing grape or raisin toxicity will begin to have vomiting and/or diarrhea within 6-12 hours of ingestion. Other abnormal clinical signs include lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, and tremors. Kidney failure develops within 24-72 hours of the initial ingestion. There are some dogs that do not experience these devastating side effects. It is best to contact your veterinarian or veterinary emergency facility if you believe your pet has ingested grapes or raisins.

Garlic and onions: We often forget that our meals contain these two popular ingredients and will allow our furry companions a few bites or licks. Onion and garlic both can cause a type of poisoning that results in damage to red blood cells, making them more likely to rupture. They can also cause stomach upset and mouth irritation. Look for pale gums, increased breathing or drooling or any vomiting or diarrhea.

Bread dough: Unbaked bread dough is considered poisonous to our pets. The bread dough, when ingested, expands in the stomach because of the warm and moist environment. This can lead to a bloated or even twisted stomach. In addition yeast is often added to our baking products to help get bread to rise, and when this yeast is fermented it produces both carbon dioxide and alcohol. The alcohol produced can be absorbed into the bloodstream and causes dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Common clinical signs include vomiting or retching, distension of the stomach, weakness and collapse.

Macadamia nuts: Ingestion of these nuts are not proven to be fatal in dogs but can cause them to experience uncomfortable clinical sings, including fever, joint stiffness, vomiting, tremors and difficulty walking, especially in their hind legs. Often your pet will start to feel better after about 48 hours, but supportive veterinary care (such as pain medication) may help ease their discomfort.

Xylitol: The most common ingredient used in sugar-free gum is xylitol, which is a non-caloric sweetener. It is also found in some oral rinses, toothpastes and vitamins. Xylitol and dogs do not mix – it can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugars levels. Dogs will often display signs of disorientation, black tarry stool, tremors and seizures. If severe enough some dogs have developed liver failure. Keep your gum away from your canine companion.

Avocados: Avocados are not actually poisonous to dogs or cats but as many veterinarians can tell you the avocado pits can cause a foreign body obstruction. Avocados contain persin, which is actually toxic to the majority of pet birds. The abnormal clinical signs associated with avocado ingestion in birds include, respiratory distress, inability to perch, liver and kidney failure and sudden death.

Go forth and enjoy your favorite foods, but keep in mind which foods you should avoid sharing with your furry family members. Whenever in doubt, contact your veterinarian for healthy and safe food suggestions.