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Dog Nutrition and Glucosamine
Providing a balanced and healthy diet for your dog is important, but it can be difficult and confusing. Some people just look at the picture on the package and then emotionally choose their favorite. Some select the cheapest.
Some follow TV ads. Some read the labels that say "The perfect balance of nutrition for your dog!" The endless marketing and advertising, confuse our perception of what's right!
A good, complete, nutritional diet and proper veterinary care are the primary ways to keep your dog healthy and happy for years. This purpose of this article is to give you some basic rules about dog nutrition, and to explain how glucosamine and related supplements fit into that plan.
Basic Dog Food Composition:
As a basic guide to dog food composition, I will paraphrase some information from an authoritative website, dogfoodproject.com.
Water is of course essential for life and required for the body's digestive system, and for many other functions. Obviously you can provide water for your dog, and it is included in most dog foods. Too much water in dog food will affect how much value you are getting depending since you are paying for water, which is actually more or less free. Your dog should always have fresh water available in a bowl they can reach.
Proteins are organic compounds that provide the building blocks (amino acids) for muscles and other parts of the body.
Fats are compounds of three fatty acids that work with protein as building blocks.
Carbohydrates are sugar-based compounds that mostly contribute energy.
Vitamins are various compounds that are essential to the body's functioning and health. You dog needs a basic balance of the necessary vitamins, just like human beings.
Minerals are trace elements and other chemicals, small but important for living beings.
Through experimentation with humans, dogs and other mammals, it has basically been found that it is possible to live on only protein, as our long ago human-like ancestors did. So you could technically probably give your dog 100% hamburger! On the other hand, a diet consisting completely of carbohydrates (corn, wheat, etc.) would eventually lead to death.
The best balance is somewhere in between. It is usually called the "guaranteed analysis", and it looks something like this for dogs. The percentages are by weight.
- Proteins 18-25%
- Carbs 30-70%
- Fats 10-15%
- Fiber 4-10%
- Vitamins, minerals and water, as needed, very small by weight
A popular common dog food is Pedigree Adult, and here is its "guaranteed analysis":
- Crude Protein - Min 21%
- Crude Fat - Min 10%
- Calories- 307 per cup, 3324 per kilogram (KG)
- Moisture (water) - Max 12%
- Fiber - Max 4%
- Various vitamins and minerals
I am an engineer by college training, and also a mathematician, astronomer and computer programmer. And I find this difficult to understand! But I am going to try to simplify it so you have some numbers to work with. You see, they are able to measure the protein, fat and moisture directly, and estimate the fiber (non-digestible stuff). But they have to back into the carb or calorie number.
You can see that it is pretty tricky to see if they satisfy the actual health requirements, because they are not required to list the carbohydrates (carbs, also called NFE - Nitrogen Free Extract). Instead, they list the calories (also called kCal ME for Metabolizable Energy). Another missing component is ash, which is actually not the ash you think of in a fireplace, but a representation of how much powder would be left over if you burned everything. Ash is generally accepted as being about 5%. This indicates a measure of the stuff that cannot be processed by the digestive system.
- Protein% + Fat% + Moisture% + Fiber% + Ash% + Carbs% = 100%
- 21% + 10% + 12% + 4% + 5% + Carbs% = 100
Apply a little Algebra 1 to this, and you get that Carbs% = 48%.
So, all of the numbers in Pedigree Adult fit in the recommended guidelines! The other versions of dog foods for puppies and older dogs have slightly different guidelines. For example, usually puppies get more protein and fat for fast growing, and older dogs get more fiber and less fat to keep weight down and protect their sensitive organs. (High fat can cause pancreatitis.)
It is interesting to note in the Pedigree food that much of the carbs come from wheat, and the protein from chicken "by-products". Some dogs are sensitive to wheat (like humans) and some other dog foods (for example, Blue Mountain) do not include "by-products" but rather the actual meat of the animal, whether chicken, beef, lamb or fish.
An excellent additional discussion of dog food analysis can be found at Dog Food Advisor.
In addition to your pet's diet and what ingredients it includes, there are numerous supplements that have been found to be helpful for most dogs. The most common is glucosamine. Related to glucosamine are chondroitin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). Check with your vet! Most vets will recommend giving your dog glucosamine.
Proper dosages for these supplements are as follows:
- Glucosamine: 500 mg per 25 pounds.
- Chondroitin sulfate: 400 mg per 25 pounds.
- MSM: 200 mg per 25 pounds.
This will help protect your pet dog's joints by providing the right amount of glucosamine.
Glucosamine is a great nutritional supplement. Numerous studies have shown that glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM contribute to joint wellness. As dogs get older, they have trouble with joints. This supplement helps to preserve excellent joint cartilage. Glucosamine also provides help in lubricating joints.
According to S. Terry Canale, MD, “Most articles refer to the ‘GAIT (Glucosamine / chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial) report’ paid for by the National Institutes of Health in 2006.” Basically, the trial said that in people as opposed to dogs, there was no visible difference in bone or joint pain after consuming chondroitin or glucosamine chloride when compared to taking a placebo.
However, I know from my own personal experience that in most countries just about any veterinarian will prescribe glucosamine for dogs right away, and will be happy to sell it to you.
How does glucosamine work? Glucosamine oils and hydrates your pooch's joints. This assists in preventing arthritis and slows the joint aging process. Many dogs varieties, such as labradors and German shepards, historically have joint trouble, such as hip dysplasia. Consequently, glucosamine is an excellent supplement in your pet's diet regimen.
Glucosamine is generally considered to be risk-free as a component of a healthy, proper, and well balanced dog diet.
In the opinion of the writer, the best glucosamine for dogs at the time of writing of this article is Nutramax Cosequin Soft Chews Plus MSM Joint Health Supplement Chews - 60 Count, available on Amazon
The top two dog food brands on Amazon are Orijen and Blue Mountain. Blue Mountain is a remarkably good value given it is made from all sustainable sources that are top notch value.
Be willing to spend a little more to get quality dog food. The cheapest, or what is on sale, is generally that way because the ingredients are not top notch, or they are made in China. Spend as much on your dog as you would on yourself, and get the good stuff!
Select a food that is appropriate for your dog's age. Older dogs should not be fed things that are high calorie or high fat. Choose a food that says "senior"! Puppies have various dietary needs compared to do grown-up dogs. Specifically, they need a lot of calories to provide for proper growth, and a lot of protein to provide for proper muscle growth.
Find out how much your dog should weigh at different ages. Weigh them on a scale. You can either do this at the vet, or if your dog is small enough, hold it in your arms and get on your scale. Then get on your scale without your dog and subtract your weight. If your dog is too fat, hey! Feed it less, and give it more exercise!
Start things off right by never giving your dog anything from the dining table. A dog learns that stuff is up there if you are sitting at the table and hand treats down to the dog. If you never do this, the dog will never learn that stuff is up there! Begging is encouraged if you give table scraps, and people food is not good for dogs. Period.
Be willing to spend a little more to get quality dog food. You may consider visiting http://AlohaCreek.com for information on many nutritious, high quality dog foods. The cheapest, or what is on sale, is generally that way because the ingredients are not top notch, or they are made in China. Spend as much on your dog as you would on yourself, and get the good stuff!
Glucosamine supplements been available in many kinds. You can even give your dog a treat particularly developed to supplement its diet with glucosamine. If you get meaty chews, the yummy reward does away with the problem of having to give your dog pills. Some of the best glucosamine for dogs is described on the Aloha Creek reviews website.