Whether through duty, concern or pure love it is very common, and of value, to question if we are providing enough food for our dogs.
We can often find ourselves wondering:
- Is my dog too thin?
- Is my dog overweight?
- Am I feeding my dog too much?
- Am I feeding my puppy too much?or even
- Am I not feeding my dog enough?
Dogs are now so varied in size, shape and coat types in these modern times it is much harder to follow feeding or weight guides based on breed or type alone.
We want to do the best for them, knowing if we are feeding our dogs enough is often the most important question to ask.
A pet food company can provide a guide to the generally accepted amount of their own pet food, that a certain weight or breed of dog should have. Even a vet can recommend a volume of food based on breed type and any knowledge they have of your dog’s individual health needs. Both these recommendations will be advice as to what should be the case, rather than what is completely correct.
Only getting to know your dog as an individual, blended with an understanding of what influences a dog’s metabolism will give you the true amount that is right for your dog.
A Dog’s Body Condition Score
The traditional veterinary weight chart, known as the Body Condition Score, shows that a dog deemed a medically healthy weight will have a defined waist and that the dog’s ribs, spine and pelvic bone can be distinguished or ‘seen’ and felt. For the most part, the nation’s pet dogs are a little heavier than that, this has in the past led to large scale veterinary awareness campaigns about the treats we give our dog, but has yet to fully explain how and why the type of foods fed might also play a role.
For this, let’s start at the beginning. Historically dogs have always been somewhat athletic, being able to chase prey sufficiently is an important part of a dog’s history, the dog’s body has even evolved to having a large heart per body mass in order to support this activity. Whilst our pet dogs do not appear to be athletes many vets now feel that we have simply got used to viewing dogs at thicker waists and heavier weights than they are genetically made up for.
A dog, by nature is what is known as a facultative carnivore. This means that they biologically require a high meat protein content, with bone for minerals and can at times also benefit from the phyto-nutrition of some plants.
Today most dog foods are fed as cooked kibbles, tins or cans. All generally containing either a cereal, grain, starch or legume, which, as food types, are metabolised very differently to the meat part of a meal.
Genetically dogs have evolved to primarily take energy from the fats in their diet, then the proteins, with any carbohydrate from fruits or green plants as a final resort. A volume of cereals, grains or legumes in their diet can mean the dogs body is forced to create energy from those food types instead, this, just as you may have read about for people, this can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. Also influencing the dog’s metabolic rate and unbalancing their energy levels.
Every organ and system of your dog’s body is actually set up to rebalance in order to maintain health. How-ever if the rebalancing has to occur more frequently the dog’s organs do become weary, the rate of aging speeds and even behaviours can change.
A diet with good quality protein, bone, fat and a moisture content is the key to easily balancing your dog’s weight, energy levels and even their hunger too.
Controlled Diet For Dogs
Whilst we are used to dealing with diet in respect of calories, it is in fact the internal health of the organs that determines if weight is to be balanced. A diet of the correct amount of calories can be achieved with entirely plants or cereal ingredients but would not provide the nutrients needed for organ health, hormone balance and cellular detoxification, all of which play a large role metabolism and in the loss or gain of weight.
Is My Dog Full Up?
When a dog is provided with fresh, real food it is very common they get fuller more quickly, this is because they can balance their systems and thus not be driven by their hormones to ask for as much food. Whilst it can sometimes appear that a real, raw fed dog is not hungry one day, it is usually because they are finally nutritionally sound and simply are full!
A Dog’s Hunger
Hunger is indeed a large part of the puzzle, those big brown eyes can either be coming from a place of need or a place or desire.
Understanding which and how much of each macronutrient a dog needs, alongside the actual volume of a meal both only go so far. Even the best fed dog can still appear hungry in our concerned loving owner eyes.
It could be that a lack of a few or many micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are creating a hunger for your dog. The body is a clever thing and is designed to notice excess or lack and try to re-balance consistently.
Another possible reason for a dog appearing hunger is an unbalanced microbiome, or gut bacteria. On a simply level sugars, refined cereals, grains and even legumes (although to a lesser degree) each have a track records of contributing to the imbalance or the over-population of ‘bad’ bacteria, this type of bacteria does literally have a ‘mind of its own’, as is capable of creating cravings! Your dog’s desire for your piece of morning toast may well not be coming from his mind at all.
Ultimately until a dog’s body is being provided with the fresh, real food ingredients it needs to balance all the influences on metabolism we will always be setting ourselves up for a fall in terms of knowing what is really going on for our dog individually, and if the food we are presenting to them is not only enough, but contains enough of the natural nutrients they need, and importantly keeps that crucial microbiome in check.
Why not use ProDog’s handy raw dog food calculator to determine how much of our complete raw meals your dog needs when raw feeding.
We hope our blog has given you enough understanding to view each of your dog’s mealtimes as a chance to nourish them, further than simply providing enough in volume.