Special Dog Diets

Dogs that have special medical needs, dogs that are obese and dogs with allergies may need to be put on special diets. These diets can help your dog stay healthy and active.

Of course, you should always check with your veterinarian to get tips on special dog diets.

Obesity in Dogs

Dogs are considered obese if they are very overweight, approximately 15 percent more than the average for their particular size and breed.

Obesity in dogs can be harmful for the:

  • heart
  • joints
  • kidneys
  • liver
  • lungs.

Determining Obesity in Dogs

Many owners don”t realize that their dogs are obese, sometimes due to the fact that the weight gain was gradual. The absence of a waistline, waddling or laziness can all be signs that a dog is overweight.

If you can run your hands along your dog”s sides and not feel his ribs, then you may want to consider a change in your dog”s diet.

Food deprivation is not usually the way to go with dogs. Instead, your dog”s balance of nutrients should be adjusted. High-fiber, high-protein diets can help obese dogs to lose weight and be healthier overall.

Certain dog foods are designed specifically for obese dogs and will provide the correct number of calories for weight loss and balanced nutrients.

Explaining Obesity in Dogs

In some cases, obesity in dogs can be explained by overfeeding, frequent treats or scraps from the table. However, in other cases, owners are careful about their dogs” diets and they still become obese. If this is the case, your dog should be checked out by a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Certain breeds are prone to obesity, so special diets may be needed to prevent obesity. These breeds include:

  • Cairn terriers
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Labradors.

Food Allergies in Dogs

Often, if a dog has a food allergy, he will frequently scratch himself due to itchy skin. If this causes a rash, see a veterinarian.

If a food allergy is to blame for itching skin and scratching, the allergen, or the ingredient causing the allergy, could be an ingredient in many other types of dog food. This is why simply switching dog food brands may not be helpful. Your veterinarian can make dietary recommendations that may help you identify the allergen.

Follow these steps to help identify an allergen in your dog:

  1. Give your dog food that includes only one or two ingredients. Dog food that is labeled hypoallergenic can fall under this category, or a vet can give you recommendations.
  2. Provide only distilled water for your dog.
  3. After a few weeks pass and you see improvement, switch your dog to regular water.
  4. After about another week, if improvement continues, add a small amount of one of the ingredients from your dog”s former diet.
  5. If the allergy symptoms don”t recur after another week, add another ingredient from the original dog food.
  6. Continue adding ingredients weekly until symptoms recur and you”ve identified the ingredient that is the allergen.

While this may seem like a great deal of effort, it is necessary to treat your dog”s problem. Many dog owners switch their dogs to a diet of lamb and rice as soon as they suspected a food allergy, but there is no guarantee that a commercial diet of lamb and rice doesn”t also contain the ingredient causing the allergy.

Very few dogs actually have food allergies, so if your dog is itching and has a rash, be sure to rule out other conditions that could be causing this. Your veterinarian can check your dog for fleas and other conditions that could cause itching and a rash.

Sick Dogs and Special Diets

Dogs who are sick often need special diets. Vomiting and diarrhea can be indicators of an illness, so take your dog to a veterinarian if you notice these symptoms. Don”t switch your dog”s diet before having a vet check him out.

If your dog”s vet suspects a major disease or medical problem, she may recommend a special diet to help control the condition or problem:

  • Suspicion of Diabetes: A high-fiber diet will likely be recommended for your dog.
  • Suspicion of Heart Disease: A diet low in sodium will likely be recommended for your dog.
  • Suspicion of Kidney Problems: A diet with a high-quality protein but low in sodium and phosphorus will be recommended for your dog.
  • Suspicion of Liver Disease: A diet that is easily digestible and a carefully controlled sodium intake will be recommended for you dog.