Choosing the right dog food formula is very important to the health of your dog. Many of my clients have misconceptions concerning dog food formulas, especially when it comes to pets with specific medical needs.
I will give you some specific suggestions as it relates to choosing food for pets with specific conditions. It is important to remember that all dogs receiving a specific dog food formula should generally not have any other food or supplements added to their diets without first consulting their veterinarian.
Dogs with osteoarthritis:
Osteoarthritis is a very common health concern in medium, large, and giant breed dogs. Nearly all larger dogs will suffer to some degree with arthritis as they age. Specialized diets are now readily available from multiple reputable pet food manufacturers for arthritic pets. These foods are supplemented with Omega-three fatty acids, which can significantly decrease inflammatory chemicals in arthritic dogs, thereby easing the discomfort of osteoarthritis.
Dogs with allergic skin disease:
This is one of the areas in which I see the most confusion with pet owners. Allergic skin disease is a very common condition. As a result, much information and misinformation is readily available. I often see patients whose owners have tried multiple dog food formulas without ever consulting me for veterinary advice. The most important thing to remember is that it can take up to two to three months to determine if a new formula will make a difference in your dog’s skin condition.
Hypoallergenic dog food formula choices:
There are currently two general formulas of hypoallergenic food for dogs. The first are formulas which include a protein source that your pet has never been exposed to, such as duck, venison, or even kangaroo. The second contain hydrolyzed proteins. Hydrolyzed proteins have been split apart to decrease their molecular weight. New research has shown that decreasing protein molecular weight will decrease the protein’s ability to stimulate allergies. Which formula is best suited for your allergic dog can best be determined after a physical exam and consultation with your veterinarian.
Life stages and your dog’s size:
Even dogs without specific medical conditions may need a specialized dog food formula. Puppies under one year of age should eat a formula made specially for puppies. Large or toy breed puppies may need an even more specialized formula, addressing their needs based on both age and size. As your dog ages, a senior formula may be appropriate. Consult your veterinarian about your dog’s activity level and overall health before changing formulas as she ages.
There are so many factors to consider when choosing a pet food that it can be very confusing. Hopefully these thoughts will assist you in clearing up some of the confusion for two conditions commonly affecting dogs. Your veterinarian will be happy to answer any more specific questions you may have.