Respecting the vet’s advice regarding your canine friend’s optimal diet according to age, breed, activity level and other specific factors are the best way to ward off nutrition-related conditions.
Remember that your vet is better qualified to assess your dog’s nutritional needs, based on the results of the regular checkups. If you elect to discard specialist advice, then you’re voluntarily exposing your pet to a number of potentially life-threatening conditions, some of which we’ll list in the following article.
1. Obesity and associated illnesses
Everyone is familiar with the troublesome prevalence of obesity among the human population of the US, but few know that the endemic is also present among dogs. In fact, studies estimate that over 50% of the dog population in the country is considerably over the ideal weight, in the obese category. Obesity in dogs also triggers several other specific illnesses, including arthritis, diabetes, elevated blood pressure and even cancer. A diet that’s excessively rich in fats and proteins combine with limited exercise constitutes the leading cause of obesity.
Work with your vet to develop a nutrition plan specifically formulated for animals with weight problems and implement a daily exercise routine to help your dog return to the ideal proportions.
Pancreatitis, the inflammation of the pancreas that releases massive quantities of digestive enzymes in the abdominal cavity, is also known to be the byproduct of improper nutrition. These enzymes are no longer only used in the normal digestive process, but also work overtime breaking down proteins and fats in the nearby organs. If your dog’s diet features large amounts of dietary fats, then developing pancreatitis is just around the corner.
Create a more balanced nutritional plan to reduce the chances of your dog developing this condition, or ask your vet to recommend a low fat, easily digestible diet in case pancreatitis has already developed.
3. Bladder stones
Pain and difficulties urinating, discolored urine and random ‘accidents’ could indicate that your dog has developed bladder stones. Unfortunately, only a vet can determine whether these stones are actually present or of what type they are (calcium oxalate, struvites, etc.) based on a thorough analysis. Certain stones require removal via surgical intervention, whereas others will dissolve by themselves with the proper diet.
Lowering the quantity of phosphorous and calcium in your dog’s diet according to the vet’s recommendations is an effective way to prevent the development of bladder stones in the first place.
4. Heart disease
Similarly to humans, dogs are also at risk of heart disease and it’s also often triggered by an improper diet, which in this case is one that contains high amounts of sodium. To put it simply, when the canine’s nutrition features foods with high concentrations of sodium, this chemical reaches the bloodstream from where it’s circulated to the heart and pumped back into the blood vessels. The water retention propensity of sodium elevates the blood pressure, which means that the heart is forced to enlarge to accommodate the increasing influx of blood.
If you frequently feed your furry friend table scraps, then stop, because that’s where the main intake of sodium comes from. It’s also advisable to discuss the sodium values in its current diet with your vet, to find out whether you should switch to a low-sodium meal plan.