When it comes to dog food, we are spoiled for choice. Should you choose kibble? What about raw? Do you prefer to feed canned, dehydrated, or homemade? The options are almost endless.
Forget about all that for a minute. Instead, you should focus on the quality of nutrition.
Low-quality dog foods and poor nutrition are linked to many common conditions and diseases in our canine companions.
If your dog suffers from any of these eight common problems, it’s time to rethink his diet.
1. Blocked Anal Glands
Dogs who are overweight or don’t get enough fiber in their diet can experience blocked anal glands. The anal glands secrete a pungent liquid when dogs defecate, which they use to mark their territory. When the anal glands get blocked, they can become inflamed, painful, or even infected.
Your dog’s anal glands are naturally emptied when your dog eliminates, however, blocked anal glands are a result of poor stool formation, which is caused by a poor diet.
Ensuring that your dog gets enough fiber in his diet and avoiding low-quality dog food with a lot of added fillers is the best way to prevent blocked anal glands.
It’s estimated that around 56% of pet dogs in the world are overweight or obese – the number continues to rise each year. The most shocking part about these statistics is that obesity is one of the most preventable diseases.
Obesity is defined as excess body fat, and it is linked to many other health problems for dogs. Dogs who are obese tend to have a shorter lifespan, and they are more likely to be susceptible to illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
Obesity is caused by feeding dogs a poor diet, feeding them too much, and not giving them enough exercise. Make sure you exercise your dog regularly and feed him appropriate amounts of high-quality dog food to prevent obesity (and the other health risks that come with it).
3. Gastrointestinal Problems
A dog’s poor diet can contribute to several illnesses, such as gastrointestinal distress, gastroenteritis, gastritis, and colitis – to name a few.
Although gastrointestinal issues have many contributing factors, diet plays a significant role in your dog’s overall gut health.
Dog food with highly nutritive and digestible ingredients is recommended for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and feeding your dog high-quality food from the start is a great way to prevent digestive issues, allergies, and sensitivities later on.
Pancreatitis is a very serious illness that causes inflammation of the pancreas, which in turn causes leakages in the digestive system. These leakages of digestive enzymes eventually cause the pancreas to digest itself. Although the precise cause of pancreatitis in dogs is not completely known, poor nutrition can certainly exacerbate the condition.
Eating food that has a high amount of carbs forces the pancreas to work harder to produce the essential enzymes that dogs need to break down food.
Diet and pancreatic health is intrinsically linked. Once a dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis, he will have to follow a strict low-fat and low-carb diet to prevent future episodes.
There are two forms of diabetes in dogs: diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus is the more common of the two, and it is caused by insufficient insulin production.
Although diabetes can be inherited, it can also be caused and exacerbated by a poor diet or triggered by a secondary condition, such as obesity and pancreatitis. Diabetes insipidus in dogs occurs rarely and with no obvious cause.
Dogs with diabetes will need to be on a controlled diet and have insulin shots for the rest of their lives because there is no cure. Avoiding foods with a high glycemic index –like corn, soy, rice, bread, and other grains – can prevent diabetes from developing and reduce the symptoms.
6. Heart Disease
Like humans, dogs can also suffer from heart conditions caused by a poor diet. A diet high in saturated fats can cause plaque build-up in the arteries surrounding the heart, which can lead to chronic heart disease.
Heart disease in dogs is usually caused by a combination of a lack of exercise and poor nutrition, although factors like age, breed, and previous heartworm infections can also contribute. While you can’t prevent your dog from aging, you can ensure that he eats a healthy diet and gets enough exercise.
Unfortunately, cancer is becoming increasingly common in dogs. The exact causes are difficult to pinpoint, but eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s free of artificial coloring and highly processed ingredients can lower your dog’s risk.
Avoid foods that contain ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, aflatoxin, and butylated hydroxyanisole.
Studies have shown that a high-quality diet can slow down the progression of cancer, reduce inflammation, and improve quality of life.
8. Skin Conditions
The skin is the largest organ of the body, so it makes sense that it is also affected by nutrition. Diets that contain insufficient amounts of essential fatty acids make for a dull, brittle coat and dry, flaky skin.
While the most common cause of poor coat condition is a lack of nutrients, allergies and issues in the endocrine system can also cause it. The most common deficiency in dogs is a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids – which can be found in flaxseed and fish oils.
Hair thinning and skin inflammation can also be caused by environmental or dietary allergens, so if your dog’s coat and skin are in bad condition or he’s experiencing hair loss, take a closer look at the food he’s eating and consult your vet.
9. Periodontal Disease
Although old age and improper dental hygiene are some of the main contributing factors of periodontal disease in dogs, a poor diet can also contribute.
Contrary to popular belief, kibble does not clean your dog’s teeth. In fact, any dog food that contains a high amount of starch and carbohydrates contributes to periodontal disease.
This is because, unlike humans, dogs’ saliva does not contain amylase – which is the enzyme responsible for breaking starches down. Bacteria in the dog’s mouth then feed on these sugars and carbohydrates, leading to rapid tartar and plaque buildup.