by Debbie Brookham, Clinical Pet Nutritionist
IN 2020, through the midst of the Covid pandemic, lots of people found their new love in a brand new dog. Many dogs were rescued and found amazing new homes. Fast forward to 2023, I have noticed a continued trend in people getting new puppies.
This is super exciting, and I love that new pet parents reach out to make sure they’re on their way to a long and healthy relationship with their new fur baby. However, some of the new practices I am seeing are disturbing to me as a Clinical Pet Nutritionist. So please listen up, because the internet, friends, family, and the people at the dog park are giving you the wrong nutritional advice which could harm your new puppy and have detrimental consequences!
Let me explain. Many videos and recipes are out there on how to feed your new dog from homemade recipes to kibble to freeze-dried foods. You name it, and everyone has free advice for your new puppy. But, did you know when you get it wrong that it can be harmful to your new puppy?
1. Vitamins and Supplements are Key!
Let’s start with the whole vitamin-mineral supplementation process. Lots of people are creating recipes that do not acknowledge a dog’s need for very specific vitamins and minerals. Likewise, if these vitamins and minerals are not given correctly, this can compromise a puppy’s health. Many people who utilize these recipes end up giving their dogs unbalanced sources of vitamins and nutrients. When this happens and our puppies do not receive the correct vitamins and minerals, let me tell you what can happen. How about the lady whose new Labrador retriever ended up with 4 broken legs after 4 months of feeding from a homemade diet. Yup, she didn’t realize there is a very specific ratio for calcium and phosphorus for a growing puppy. Or, how about the person who gave a heap load of rice and not enough protein. All dogs, including growing dogs, middle aged dogs, and especially senior dogs, need protein in their diets.
There are several vitamin and mineral supplements on the market today. What people don’t understand are these are not a complete supplement for a homemade diet. Most of the supplements will state to use in “addition” to your dry food or balanced diet. In other words, they do not have the correct ratio by themselves. In these cases, even though you may think you’re feeding the right supplement, it’s probably not enough or the correct balance.
Now, let’s get into treats. Our puppies love treats and we love buying them! However, let me caution you about 2 treats that you need to be aware of for the sake of safety.
2. Be Careful With Your Beef Liver Treats
Most treats also contain certain vitamins and minerals, and it is important to pick a treat that has the right balance for your dog and their diet. Our first treat to be cautious of is beef liver treats. Recently, researchers are finding harmful effects in feeding your puppy beef liver treats in combination with your dogs regular diet. Specifically, if you give your dog just four beef liver treats a day, along with the food you are feeding, your dog may be getting too much copper. Copper is a mineral our dog’s need. However, if given in excess, copper can have harmful and adverse effects.
3. Throw Out the Jerky Treats!
Secondly, jerky treats have had several reports to the FDA s in reference to making dogs sick. Typically, these treats are made in the USA. However, on the package in the fine print, it tells you the ingredients are from a foreign country. So, please avoid these treats. Look for treats that are a single-protein treat like heart, kidney, and lung. These are examples of high value treats that your puppy will love! Don’t be like the one client who gives her dog 2 hot dogs a week as training treats, and the dog is 5 pounds overweight. To justify, she told me the dog will do anything for a hot dog. I asked her if she ate hot dogs and received the response, ”of course not, they’re not good for you”! Boom, that’s right: not good for you, or your dog!
So, if you have a new puppy or an old dog, here 3 things to remember: don’t try and do a balanced diet for your new puppy without a professional’s expert knowledge on balancing their diet, please don’t feed liver treats, especially beef, and throw out the jerky treats. Always think single-protein, high value treats for your pup. To all my new puppy owners, make sure you follow these tips and start the road out right! With these tips in your mind and your dogs health at priority, maybe the recently discovered 30 year old Guinness Book of Records World’s Oldest Dog could be YOUR dog. Now, wouldn’t that be fantastic!
About the Author
Hi, I’m Debbie Brookham and I am a Certified Clinical Pet Nutritionist, Dog Nutritionist, Cat Nutritionist, Raw Food Specialist, and Healthy Pet Coach. I can help with generalized food questions, special needs diets, and recommendations. I can share my knowledge with you when it comes to allergies, weight loss, kidney diet, pancreatitis diet and more. If you’re struggling with an itchy dog there are food and supplements that I can recommend. If you have been to the Vet for allergy testing, I can help you get your dog on the right food!