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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

How Nutrition Affects 7 Common Canine Health Issues

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Nutrition plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of dogs, influencing everything from their energy levels to their lifespan. The right diet can help manage or even prevent several common canine illnesses. Understanding the link between nutrition and these health issues is essential for responsible pet ownership.

Regular veterinary check-ups, combined with a balanced diet tailored to individual health needs, can significantly enhance the quality of life for dogs. As always, consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet to ensure it meets their specific health requirements.

Dr. Emma Stewart, in the “7 Common Dog Illnesses That Are Impacted by Nutrition” published in the Pet Food co., said these are seven common dog illnesses significantly impacted by nutrition.

Bailey, a Save ALL rescue, is an overweight beagle. Excess fat results from a poor diet, overfeeding, and lack of exercise. Ensuring your dog gets regular exercise and consumes a high-quality diet in appropriate amounts prevents and treats obesity and related conditions.

1. Obesity

Obesity is a prevalent issue in dogs, often resulting from overfeeding, poor diet, and lack of exercise. Dogs that consume high-calorie diets rich in fats and carbohydrates without adequate exercise are prone to weight gain. Obesity can lead to severe health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues.

To combat obesity, it is important to feed dogs a balanced diet appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level. Portion control and regular exercise are key. Choosing high-quality dog food that is low in fillers and high in essential nutrients can help maintain a healthy weight. Veterinarians often recommend diets high in protein and fiber to promote satiety and lean muscle mass.

2. Diabetes

Canine diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the dog’s body cannot produce enough insulin or effectively use the insulin it produces. This condition can be worsened by obesity and poor diet. Dogs with diabetes often require insulin injections and strict dietary management.

“A diet low in simple sugars and high in complex carbohydrates helps stabilize blood glucose levels. Consistent meal times and portion sizes are crucial. Many veterinarians suggest a high-fiber diet to slow the absorption of glucose, which can help manage blood sugar levels more effectively,” said Dr. Stewart.

3. Gastrointestinal Issues

Dogs can suffer from a variety of gastrointestinal issues, such as gastritis, colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. These conditions can be triggered or worsened by poor nutrition, food allergies, or intolerances.

Feeding dogs a diet rich in easily digestible proteins and low in fat can help manage these conditions. For dogs with food allergies, a hypoallergenic diet free from common allergens such as beef, chicken, dairy, and grains may be necessary. Probiotics and prebiotics can also support gut health.

4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, can be a severe condition often caused by high-fat diets. When a dog consumes too much fatty food, the pancreas can become overworked and inflamed, leading to pain, vomiting, and lethargy.

To prevent or manage pancreatitis, make sure to feed dogs a low-fat diet. Avoiding table scraps and fatty treats is also important.

“Some dogs may require prescription diets specifically formulated to be low in fat and easily digestible to prevent flare-ups,” Dr. Stewart noted.

Margaux, a Save ALL rescue, suffers from skin conditions caused by allergens. Dietary allergies can also lead to hair loss and skin infections in your dog. It is important to provide your pet with a highly nutritious diet that excludes any problematic allergens.

5. Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is common in older dogs and can be influenced by diet. Dogs with kidney disease often require a special diet to manage their condition and slow its progression. High levels of certain minerals, such as phosphorus and sodium, can heighten kidney problems.

A diet low in phosphorus and protein but high in quality protein sources can help manage kidney disease. This reduces the workload on the kidneys and helps maintain muscle mass. Hydration is also critical, wet food or adding water to dry food can help ensure that dogs with kidney disease stay properly hydrated.

6. Skin Allergies and Dermatitis

Many dogs suffer from skin allergies and dermatitis, which can be caused or worsened by food allergies or intolerances. Common culprits include grains, certain proteins, and artificial additives.

“A diet that eliminates common allergens can significantly improve skin health. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in fish oil and flaxseed, are beneficial for reducing inflammation and promoting healthy skin and coat. Feeding a diet rich in vitamins E and A can support skin health and immune function,” said Dr. Stewart.

7. Heart Disease

Heart disease in dogs, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, can be influenced by nutrition. Certain nutritional deficiencies, such as taurine deficiency, have been linked to heart problems.

Feeding a well-balanced diet that includes all essential nutrients, including taurine, is crucial for heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids can also support cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation and improving blood flow. Limiting sodium intake is important for dogs with existing heart conditions to prevent fluid retention and hypertension.

About the Author: Niko Gabriel Salgado is a graduate of consular and diplomatic affairs from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and worked at the House of Representatives. He is now an entrepreneur and a volunteer of the animal welfare group Save Animals of Love and Light- Save ALL.

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