WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY DOG?
Good nutrition is very important, both for humans and canines. Getting all the minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates is essential for optimal health and fitness. And we all want our canine companions to live long, happy and active lives. But what types of dog food and treats are healthiest for our furry friends? In this article, we will speak about different choices for healthy canine nutrition. We will also discuss the value of tools designed to stop dogs from eating too fast.
IS KIBBLE OR RAW FOOD BETTER FOR DOGS?
All the information online on the topic of canine nutrition can be confusing. Here at Fenrir, we promote the benefits of a well-balanced raw diet for puppies and adult dogs. However, we understand that many people prefer feeding kibble. After all, putting your dog on a raw diet requires careful planning. Balancing the quantities of the different components of such a diet is vital for their health: Responsibly feeding your dog raw is not as simple as getting a bag of meat scraps from the butcher. To avoid any nutritional deficiencies, you have to balance the different ingredients. These include a certain amount of muscle meat, organ meat, bone and fish. Expert raw feeders may add eggs, butter, berries, coconut milk and coconut oil. Buying all those ingredients in sufficient quantities can be quite expensive – especially of you choose the organic option of each product.
Feeding kibble is far easier and more convenient. It may not be as healthy as an organic raw diet, but most owners prefer the simplicity of feeding kibble. You can also use kibble as food-rewards for training sessions. This is healthier for your dog (and your budget) than buying dog treats: Conventional dog foods and treats contain high percentages of so-called fillers, such as wheat, corn and soy. These products bulk up the foods, making them more affordable. But they are commonly considered unhealthy for canines. They can lead to allergic reactions, digestive problems and other health conditions. For these reasons, we highly recommend using kibble as food-rewards for training sessions. To ensure that you are not overfeeding your dog, we suggest to use ration control: Simply set aside half, or one third of their daily meal. Then, pour this amount of kibble into your treat pouch, or into a plastic bag. Use it throughout the day to reward your dog for desirable behaviours.
HOW CAN I STOP MY DOG FROM EATING TOO FAST?
But even the most nutritious dog food will lose some of its health-benefits if eaten too fast: “Hovering up” meals in record speed is not healthy - neither for humans nor for dogs. Optimal digestion requires eating at a measured pace. Eating too fast can cause indigestion for humans and for dogs. But for canines, this habit of practically inhaling their meals can be deadly: Especially in large, deep-chested breeds, this can cause an expansion and twisting of the stomach. This immediately life-threatening condition is commonly known as bloat. Eating too quickly may also cause choking, gagging and vomiting.
To keep our dogs safe, and to ensure that they are digesting their meals optimally, we need to slow down their eating. For this aim, we have developed the Fenrir Foraging Mat and the Fenrir Puzzle Bowl. The expert-approved Foraging Mat makes mealtimes more fun for dogs and provides mental stimulation: Having to use their nose to detect pieces of kibble in the snuffle mat emulates a canine’s natural way of eating. After all, wild canines do not eat out of bowls. Instead, they often have to forage for edibles on the ground. In nature, animals need to work for their food. The entire process of tracking, stalking, hunting and eating engages their minds and bodies.
Another effective tool for making dogs eat less fast is the Fenrir Puzzle Bowl. Designed to slow down even the fastest eaters, this heavy-duty dish comes in the shape of our Fenrir logo – the wolf head. By preventing dogs from “wolfing” their food, the Puzzle Bowl protects them from the lethal danger of bloat. Additionally, this slow feeding tool provides mental stimulation, as dogs have to systematically extract their food from the bowl. The Foraging Mat and the Puzzle Bowl are suitable for puppies and adult dogs of all breeds. Both tools are extremely helpful for crate training: Simply put the suitable amount of you dog's favorite food into the puzzle bowl, or onto the snuffle mat. Then, place the bowl or mat into the crate and close the door. Let your dog observe this entire process before allowing them access to the crate. In this way, you condition your canine companion to associate crate time with delicious meals.
FOOD DISPENSING TOYS
Having Snuffle mats and slow feeders are not the only products you can use to slow down your dog’s food intake: Fillable tools such as the Fenrir Hammer provide fun for dogs and stimulate their minds. Just like foraging mats, food dispensers mimic our dogs’ natural way of eating. In particular, it emulates the task of licking the marrow out of bones.
The Hammer is a virtually indestructible toy that will withstand even the most aggressively chewing canine jaws. Easy to fill and to clean, the Hammer is extremely versatile. You can use it as chew toy, treat dispenser, retrieval dummy, or tug toy. This truly unique dog toy is available in different sizes. Depending on your dog’s preferences, you can fill the Fenrir Hammer with meat paste.
Filled with meat paste and then frozen, this hardy toy keeps puppies and adult dogs entertained for quite a while. And by putting a frozen Hammer Toy inside a dog’s crate, you condition them to associate this place with tasty treats and fun activities. This method is very effective for preventing separation anxiety: Usually, the first two minutes of being left alone in the home are the worst for dogs. Giving them a frozen chew toy to work on right before you leave prevents any potential anxiety from building. The more food-motivated the dog is, the better this works. But most dogs will happily engage with food dispensing toys that are equipped with meat paste.
The decision on which kind of food and treats to give your dog is very personal. Depending on your dog’s preferences and their food-drive, they may respond better to certain types of food than others. In our experience, dogs with chronic digestive problems greatly benefit from transitioning to a raw diet – or to a high-quality grain-free kibble. Some owners prefer preparing home-cooked meals for their dogs. Such a home-made diet may consist of rice, fish, olive oil, lentils, and other vegetables. However, we are not veterinarians, and we do not personally know your canine companion. Therefore, always consult your vet before changing your dog’s diet.