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Usually dogs have no problem eating almost anything. That doesn't mean that you should let your pooch devise his own diet, though. Your pup will be healthier and you'll have less waste to clean up in the yard if you feed your dog food that he not only digests but processes efficiently. On the other hand, if your dog eats food that is difficult to digest, he'll develop health issues like diarrhea and weight loss.
Finding easily processed food for your dog means becoming a comparison shopper if you aren't one already. Don't just look at the price sticker but read the ingredients on the labels of dog food packaging. You should recognize the majority if not all of the items that go into making your dog's food and the first one on the label's list should be a meat protein source. Typically meats that are easy to digest include beef, chicken, lamb and tuna. You may have heard that some dogs develop a food allergy to common meats like these and can't process them but that is usually true of foods that include meat by-products such as otherwise unusable body parts that should be discarded as waste. If you're concerned that your dog won't efficiently process a dog food that contains beef, chicken or lamb, look for one that incorporates an alternate protein source like duck, venison or bison.
Grains are an important source of carbohydrates and protein for your dog and they'll help with digestion, so when you're scanning labels you should see a few grains as ingredients in an easily digestible dog food. Grains like oats, millet and bulgur are nutritious as are brown rice and rice bran. Not all grains are easily processed, however. Steer away from dog foods that contain grains like corn, wheat or soy as they are usually used as fillers that many dogs develop allergies to and have difficulty in digesting.
You might consider your canine a carnivore but he needs vegetables in his diet for well-balanced nutrition. Many canned foods and kibbles include vegetables in their recipes. Dog food that has carrots, peas, green beans, spinach, potatoes or sweet potatoes will be healthy for your pooch and easy on his digestive system, too.
The Homemade Alternative
If your dog's tummy is just too sensitive to process any type of commercially prepared food, no matter what ingredients are on the list or how much you shell out for it, you might consider making his food fresh at home. Start him off with a bland, stomach settling mixture of chicken, rice and plain yogurt for a day or two and then gradually move on to recipes that incorporate more ingredients and more flavor. Thoroughly cook all grains and meats to make them easier for your pup's body to process and use. Vegetables like carrots, peas and beans can be cooked or stirred into the recipe raw, but veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli should be cooked to make them more digestible.
- The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Health Books
- Vet Info: Food Sensitivities in Dogs
- Vet Info: Dog Food for Allergies