Your dog relies on his food to provide his body with the energy and nutrients it needs to function properly. The quality of your dog’s diet has a direct impact on his health and wellness, so don’t skimp when it comes to choosing a good dog food for your Beagle. Keep reading to learn more about your Beagle’s dietary needs and to receive tips for choosing a quality dog food for your pup.
Understanding Your Beagle’s Nutritional Needs
Dogs are scavenging carnivores, which means that the ideal diet is comprised primarily of animal products, though they do have a limited ability to digest plant products. Dogs require a diet that contains at least 22% protein for puppies and 18% protein for adults, as well as a minimum of 8% fat for puppies and 5% for adults. Protein should come from high-quality, animal-based sources to ensure that it is digestible and biologically valuable for your dog. Fats provide your dog with essential fatty acids as well as a concentrated source of energy.
Beagles are a particularly high-energy breed, so your dog may need a diet that is a little higher in fat than the typical dry food. High protein content is important as well, because it will help your dog to maintain his lean muscle mass even as he burns through calories during daily activity. Dogs can generally digest whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice or oatmeal, though carb content should be limited and you should avoid products made with corn, wheat, or soy. A dog also requires certain vitamins and minerals, so the dog food you choose should be complete and balanced in terms of nutrition. These dogs can also benefit from probiotics to support their digestion.
Tips for Choosing a High-Quality Dog Food
Not all dog foods are created equal and it may be a little more challenging than you imagine to pick out a healthy dog food for your Beagle. Just remember that all of the information you need is right there on the package – you just have to know how to interpret it. To see whether a product will meet your Beagle’s minimum nutritional requirements, look for a statement of nutritional adequacy from the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Next, look at the guaranteed analysis to see how much protein, fat, and fiber is in the product. Remember, you want to see a high protein content (upwards of 20%) with moderate fat and limited carbohydrate. You should also make sure that the crude fiber content is below 5% because too much fiber in your dog’s diet could lead to digestive upset.
Once you’ve determined that the product is complete and balanced as well as rich in protein and fat, look at the ingredients list. These lists are arranged in descending order by volume, so the ingredients at the beginning are used in the highest quantity. You’ll want to choose a product that lists a high-quality source of animal protein as the first ingredient with a general focus on animal- rather than plant-based ingredients. Avoid dog foods made with cheap fillers like corn, wheat, and soy as well as products that are loaded with plant proteins, too many supplementary sources of fiber, and artificial additives like colors, flavors, and preservatives.
If you want to make sure that your Beagle lives a long life, you need to choose his diet carefully. Dry dog food is the easiest and most convenient solution, but you need to do some legwork to find a product that meets your dog’s nutritional needs through the use of high-quality ingredients.
Here are my top 15 tips to improve your dog’s diet today…
1. Discard the marketing hype and take the label test
No matter how entertaining, relying on advertisements for nutritional information is not ideal.
Why? Because the people that produce the ads didn’t formulate the food. Their job is to make even the worst products appear healthy.
Carefully examining the labels on your dog’s food and treats will help you make more informed purchases.
Product labels always list the ingredients in order, from the largest to the smallest.
Google-search each of the first five ingredients. First, type in each ingredient followed by “bad for dogs” and then “good for dogs.” The results may surprise you. When you start researching, you’ll soon see why I’m against prescription foods sold by vets.
They may suit a diagnosed condition but can cause many other problems (and that’s not even taking into account the cooking processes or packaging).
Discuss the ingredients with the person or company recommending the products. If they can’t explain what each ingredient is, its source, why and how it’s good for dogs, then rely on your own research and judgment.
2. Avoid feeding shelf-stable foods as a staple diet
Thanks to clever marketing, the average consumer often overlooks the alarming reasons why processed food has a 12 to 24 month shelf life.
Dogs don’t need grains at all to be healthy. They don’t eat them in the wild, and most are allergic to wheat.
When a dog has an upset tummy it baffles me why many vets still recommend boiled chicken and rice. Even those commercial grain free dog foods typically contain grains.
A great protein-rich substitute is green lentils. Just like rice, green lentils require boiling, so your preparation time is similar.
It’s best to soak them first and rinse before cooking, then rinse again after cooking.
Lentils are one of the most nutritionally valuable leguminous plants. Lentils:
Have the highest protein content.
Are rich in fiber and minerals, particularly iron and magnesium.
Rich in lysine, an essential amino acid that can help boost the immune system. It can prevent and treat cold sores, herpes and shingles in humans. Athletes also take it to improve performance.
10. Add raw coconut oil as a source of fat
Unlike animal fats and other vegetable fats, raw coconut oil (virgin cold-pressed) is truly unique.
While it’s high in saturated fat, it’s a healthy saturated fat that mainly contains medium-chain fatty acids that the body doesn’t store.
Coconut oil can help you manage your dog’s weight.
Raw coconut oil goes straight to the liver where it gets converted into energy.
The more energy your dog has, the more he exercises; the more he exercises, the leaner he stays; the leaner he stays, the less chance of obesity-related diseases.
Note: you will still need to provide your dog with a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Since fish oils can turn rancid very easily, consider sources of Omega-3 oils like chia seed, flaxseed or hempseed.
You can also add small amounts of (preferably fresh) sardines.
[Related: Get your fats right. Balancing Fats For A Healthier Dog]
11. Do not over-feed … and limit treats
Feed your dog according to whether he needs to gain or lose weight.
If he’s overweight, feed him earlier in the day so he has more time to work it off.
If your dog needs to gain weight then feed more regularly and especially before bedtime, preventing the dog from burning off those calories.
Within reason, don’t worry about your dog being too skinny. It’s ok for your dog to be very slim, especially in his younger, more active years.
As he grows older, he’ll gain weight more easily, so don’t set him up for failure by trying to make him heavier too early – it will come naturally over time
Just like marketing gurus once convinced mothers they should be putting snacks in their children’s lunchboxes, they’ve tricked dog owners into believing that giving our dogs treats is normal.
The worst part is that it’s near impossible to find ready-made healthy treats.
So let me ask you… when you’re feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your dog, is compensating with a treat about how you feel or about how your dog feels?
Without realizing it, many of us are slowly poisoning our dogs with treats. It can be easy to spot the dog who gets far too many treats – usually it’s the obese one.
If you’d like to feed treats, consider making fresh and healthy treats at home. Dried coconut flakes are a great choice.
It’s fun to give dogs treats, but use them sparingly. Lean dogs are healthier dogs.
12. Get creative for teeth and gum health
Some commercial treats claim to benefit teeth and gum health but their unhealthy ingredients and cooking processes can cause other health problems. Marketing does it again!
If you ask any dentist how to best keep teeth plaque-free and gums healthy they’ll recommend brushing. The same rules apply for dogs.
It isn’t always possible or practical to brush your dog’s teeth so bones come in a close second. Gnawing on raw bones will help keep your dog’s teeth sparkling white.
Another good solution is to give your dog whole foods like carrots and zucchini to chomp on. You see, it’s all about the rubbing and sloughing action on the teeth.
You can make fresh treats for your dog to gnaw on to help remove plaque. Try cutting some holes in vegetables and cover them with melted raw coconut oil. Place in the freezer for five minutes then serve.
These treats can also satisfy a dog’s need to grind and chomp, and they aren’t as harsh on teeth as bones.
Be warned – there will be bits of vegetables everywhere … but that’s ok, you’re not feeding these primarily for nutrition purposes.
In the unlikely event your dog rejects these natural treats at first, don’t give up. Play games with the treats, throwing them to encourage a fetching game, or even play hide and seek.
Raw coconut oil also acts as a wonderful canine toothpaste because it has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties – plus most dogs love the taste!
Allowing your dog to lick hardened coconut oil off a bowl for 20 seconds after each meal is a great way to help with bad breath.
[Related: Looking For Natural Dog Dental Care?]
13. Rethink your water
Water is the most important aspect of a healthy diet yet it’s the most overlooked. There are well over 150 chemicals in most tap waters, depending on where you live.
We can argue all day about the safety of that healthy, naturally-occurring stuff called fluoride, or we can shift our focus towards its nasty, toxic waste version that’s in our water supply … hydrofluorosilicic acid.
97% of Europe refuses to put it in their water supply. It’s a byproduct of fertilizer manufacturing and it contains traces of arsenic and lead, and also increases the body’s uptake of aluminium.
Of course all homes should have a water filter to remove unwanted chemicals but in an ideal scenario having pure water to begin with is better.
I prefer to pour an imported alkaline water for my dogs (Saka is a good brand if you can find it) and it’s the only water they drink. While feeding alkaline water to dogs may go against the grain, I can see the benefits.
A very cost effective alternative to water filters is Willard Water® – one of the most unusual products you’ll ever find. In essence it is just water, but add a few drops of it into your dog’s water bowl and special things start to happen.
It purifies water, makes it alkaline, and also helps with nutrient absorption, among many other benefits.
[Related: Hidden Dangers In Your Dog’s Water]
14. Wash bowls with vinegar
A good white vinegar is a chemical-free alternative to commercial cleaning products.
Among other things, you can use it to wash your dishes and clean surfaces, including dog bowls and floors. It disinfects and is odorless when dry.
Dogs can be sensitive to commercial cleaning products so replace as many of these as possible with natural alternatives. Apart from vinegar, you can Google search organic and safe, ready-made cleaning products.
15. Take Charge
You know your dog better than anyone so it makes sense that you should be in control of your dog’s diet.
I couldn’t even cook for myself when I started making food for Augustine but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it – and now she’s an icon of health.