The expression, “You are what you eat” has been touted so often that when someone hears it, they tune out any nutritional advice that might follow. But this cliché is worth heeding. For most dogs, the foundation of wellness can rest solidly on sound nutrition.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Buying it ready to go
- 2 Dog food de-constructed
- 3 Making it yourself
- 4 Time for dinner
- 5 Special Diets
- 6 Supplements
- 7 Treats
- 8 Battle of the bulge
- 9 Table manners
Buying it ready to go
At least a decade ago, about 95 percent of owners fed their dogs pre-prepared dog food products. In recent years that percentage has likely decreased, as owners prepare their dogs’ food to better control the quality of the ingredients or provide a diet that meets specific needs. However, the majority of people still feed their dogs a product which is ready made and about which they need to understand the nutritional content.
The most popular choice of dog food on the market is crunchy bits of dry food. There are many dozens of brands available, and within these brands, manufacturers usually offer several varieties of feed. With so many choices, how is an owner supposed to figure out which food is best? By learning how to read labels and understand which ingredients are most healthy for your dog. When dry dog food was first produced commercially and offered for sale to the general public, these products met two separate needs: to provide a convenient way for owners to feed their dogs; and to open up another market for meat packers and grain millers to sell the leftover parts from their businesses that could not be used in human foods. As people have gained more awareness of their dogs’ nutritional needs and health, manufacturers have improved the quality of ingredients in dry kibble. Ingredients that are also suitable for human consumption are offered in many products. But a word of caution-there are just as many dry foods on the market that contain discarded meats and grains as their base. Some of these components may be used to produce soybean or corn meal, wheat mill run and rice mill, by-products, animal digest and meat by-products from an undisclosed meat source which is then utilized as a main ingredient in the dry feed.
Pomeranians with food sensitivities and diet-triggered skin or hair problems may have fewer issues if these types of ingredients are avoided. In products where the whole grain or healthier parts of meat are used, the nutrients are more complete and available in a more digestible, absorb-able form. Dogs who eat these foods may have better health overall.
A great deal of variation in the type of meat used can be found from one processor to another. Primary meat sources encompass beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, and even fish, as well as the by-products of these meats. Additional ingredients include the grain base which holds the kibble together, plus a wide assortment of vegetables, fruits, or herbs. Sources for these products differ as widely as do flavours.
There are also ingredients that add no nutritional value to dog food, and may actually aggravate or promote the development of certain health problems. These include sugars, salts, and artificial preservatives. When less digestible forms of grain, such as oats or bran, are used in a food, hydrochloric acid or propionic acid may be added in an attempt to make them more digestible.
Additionally, the method used to manufacture the kibble can affect the food’s ability to maintain its nutritional value. The majority of dry dog food is first compounded, then pressure cooked and extruded into bite-size pieces. Because the high temperatures at which the food is processed can cause vitamins and minerals to break down, following extrusion, they are sprayed onto the kibble via a fatty coating. Extrusion techniques vary by manufacturer, and affect the nutritional availability of all essential nutrients. Some dry foods are produced by baking at a lower temperature in order to preserve these nutrients. Such a process eliminates the need to apply an enriched fat since the vitamins and minerals have not been destroyed by processing. Before making your selection, learn to interpret the terminology on dry dog food labels, then choose the product that is healthiest for your Pomeranian. ”Healthy” does not equate with ”tasteless,” so it is also possible to select a main meat ingredient that support’s your dog’s health (or any special diet he must follow because of a medical condition) while appealing to his sense of taste. If your dog is sensitive to certain foods, check the secondary ingredients, like fruits or vegetables, to make certain you are selecting a food that is safe for him.
If dry kibble is your dog food of choice, it should constitute about 70 to 90 percent of your Pom’s diet. Canine nutritional experts and veterinarians usually recommend that once you select a dry food for your dog, be consistent with it. If it becomes necessary to change, do so gradually. For a Pomeranian with allergies, feeding a single dry food may not be the best choice. Repeated exposure to the same ingredient can sensitize a dog’s system so that the ingredient is seen by the body as an allergen. By rotating two or three foods, this problem can be avoided, plus finicky eaters will love the variety. Consult your veterinarian before switching your Pom’s food. If he suffers from digestive disorders, a change may precipitate a flare up of symptoms, or if he is on a specific diet geared towards controlling a disease, change may not be in his best interest.
While meat of many flavours appears to be the main ingredient, canned food contains primarily water or broth-about 70-85 percent liquid. Because of this high moisture content, it also often called soft or moist food. Vitamins, minerals, and sometimes amino acids are added to provide a balance of essential nutrients. Potatoes, vegetables, and a selection of grains such as rice or barley, and possibly even fruits such as cranberries may be blended into the mixture to hold it together or increase flavour or nutrient levels.
Synthetic preservatives are not usually added because the process of canning itself is a means of preserving the product. Regardless, closely check the label. Some brands may still add preservatives or artificial flavour enhancers. Your dog’s food will be healthier-less likely to provoke allergies or side effects, or to impact his health negatively-if it doesn’t contain certain ingredients such as soy flour or soybean meal; brighteners or colouring like titanium dioxide or yellow #5; salts and sodiums like sodium alginate, chlorine chloride or sodium tripolyphosphate; and seasonings like onion powder, which may not be safe for dogs.
Most dogs enjoy the taste of canned food. For picky eaters, stirring a portion of canned food into their kibble is an excellent way to get them to eat their dry food. It’s also a good method for increasing water intake for dogs who need higher amounts of liquid in their diets.
In Pomeranians who have developed dental problems, feeding canned food can either prove beneficial or harmful. If your dog’s teeth are prone to decay, dry food will help keep his teeth cleaner. However if your dog has misaligned or missing teeth, canned food can make up to around 20 to 25 percent of your dog’s healthy diet.
When choosing a canned food, be careful to select a brand that utilizes a high quality meat source, similar to human grade meats, and one to which your dog is not sensitive. Avoid products that use a low grade of meat, or sugars, salts, and other unnecessary additives. Since canned food tends to be higher in calories, don’t give your dog too much, regardless of how much he likes it-a little serving goes a long way.
Designed to resemble hamburger patties or chunks of roast beef, these foods are marketed to appeal to people. Few dogs will take notice of their appearance. Semi-moist foods have a long shelf life and are conveniently packaged. So what’s not to like? The payload of sugars and artificial preservatives, colours, and flavours they deliver with each serving. Propylene glycol, a main additive in some semi-moist foods or treats, is a gooey, mostly tasteless liquid used in the manufacturing of de-icing agents and polyester compounds, and as a solvent for paints and plastics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed propylene glycol on its ”generally recognized as safe” (GRAB) list and permits its use in food, where it is utilized to retain moisture and as a dissolving agent for flavouring and colouring.
Although it is on the GRAS list, propylene glycol is also listed in the database of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a branch of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). According to the ATSDR, propylene glycol can increase the amount of acid in the body, which in sufficient quantities could cause metabolic problems.
Semi-moist food can be a source of hidden sodium and is high in sugars in the form of sucrose, corn syrup, and fructose. With their propensity to hypoglycaemia (see more on low blood sugar in Chapter 8), it is wise not to feed Pomeranians foods that are high in simple carbohydrates, which quickly convert to sugar. Although sugary foods will temporarily raise blood sugar to more normal levels, the long-term result is an actual drop in glucose, causing a hypoglycaemic state. Furthermore, sugars tend to promote tooth decay, another problem for Poms.
Dog food de-constructed
One of the smartest actions you can take for your Porn is to carefully read the ingredient label before buying a dog food product. But don’t stop there. Learn what each ingredient is, what the source for those ingredients might be, and any possible long-term health effects from consuming some of the following substances on a daily basis.
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine determines the guidelines for how an ingredient is defined, and the AAFCO dictates what the use of ingredients shall mean as listed on a dog food label. If you’re uncertain what an alphabet-soup of an ingredient name is or means, call or e-mail the manufacturer; most dog food products have contact information provided on their label.
Substances are added to food during processing to preserve, colour, flavour, or stabilize the ingredients. Nutrients may also be considered additives if they do not naturally occur in a food product and are added during processing to make a food nutritious.
This refers to the material that remains after a process of cleaning, boiling, and separating, sometimes with chemical enzymes, the unused portions of an animal used as a meat source in dog food. Digest is to exclude hair, horns, hooves, teeth, and feathers.
A description meaning ”manufactured”; a substance that does not occur naturally.
The residue remaining in dried sugar beets after the sugar portion is removed and dried. It is an insoluble fibre and is moderately fermentable. Usually added to dog food for the purpose of ”compacting stool” for easier owner clean up. Beet pulp may serve to provide necessary fibre and promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. But in some dogs, it can cause the cells that absorb and breakdown nutrients to function improperly or fail, depriving the dog’s body of necessary nutrients and allowing bacterial overgrowth. In the light-coloured Pomeranian, beet pulp may have some undetermined relationship to problems with tear staining.
The unprocessed parts of animals remaining after the muscle meat has been removed for use. It can include blood, bone, brains, intestines (emptied), kidneys, livers, lungs, spleen, stomach, and some fatty tissues. It should exclude hair, hooves,horn, and teeth.
By-product meal is made by rendering the processed parts. It should exclude the same items as above, plus manure, contents of the digestive tract, and pieces of hide. Poultry by-product meal may include the use of feet, intestines, necks, and undeveloped eggs but excludes feathers and heads.
BHA and BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozytuolene (BHT) are used as preservatives of fats and grains as found in dog food. According to profiles done by the National Institutes of Health, they are suspected carcinogens, as tests of mice and rats fed BHA and BHT resulted in the formation of various types of malignancies in portions of the digestive tract. The use of BHT is reported to be prohibited in the manufacture of pet foods in Europe.
The cereal and other grains used in the production of dog food can include rice, wheat, barley, oats, corn, soy, and others. Dogs with allergies may have fewer problems if they are not fed foods with soy, corn, or wheat grains.
Grains may be ground or whole and are usually noted as such. Grain parts include the bran, hulls (the coarse outer coverings), germ, and germ meal (the inner part of the grain kernel normally processed to remove the oil). Grain meal, especially soy-bean meal, may be processed mechanically, but it may also be de-hulled using chemical solvents.
Gums Usually used as thickeners to give the ”creamy” feel of fat, gum sources vary and can include complex carbohydrates from plants or even micro-organisms similar to yeast. Xanthan gum comes from the micro-organism that causes the slimy black rot that sometimes grows on broccoli or cauliflower.
Is designated to mean the skeletal muscle tissue, and tongue, heart, oesophagus, or diaphragm of animals such as cattle, chicken, turkey, or lamb. It may or may not include skin, sinew, or blood vessels which can be found in these tissues. It is to exclude feet, hair, heads, entrails, feathers, and such. Meat meal and bone meal is the processed product derived from meat parts and also includes processed bone.
Middling, Mill Run
The ”in-between” leftover parts after processing the bran, hulls, or germ, mill runs are usually bits of all parts and also include ”tail of the mill, ” the grain debris that is collected after several days’ processing and sold for feed production.
A term referring to a substance derived from an organic (animal or vegetable) origin as opposed to manufactured chemicals; a food product containing no chemical additives.
A presumably higher standard of quality for the ingredients and nutrition in dog foods.
Refers to substances derived from living organisms. It may also indicate that the ingredient was produced from a plant or animal source where no chemicals were used, such as pesticides, growth hormones, and so forth.
A Chemical substance that prevents decomposition or fermentation in food; may be natural or artificial.
A white powder normally used in toothpaste and cosmetics as a brightener or colour enhancer. It may be used in dog foods, along with artificial colour, to make a product more visually appealing to an owner.
Prices for pet foods are as varied as the choices offered. Like any other item that consumers purchase, normally the price is determined by the quality of the item and the cost of the effort required to produce that level of quality.
In recent years, stories have been posted on the internet and circulated through e-mail lists about the horrifying, indescribable ”things” which are put into pet food. Some of these stories are urban myths, others are exaggerations, and sadly some are true. This is why it is important that you understand what the sources are for the ingredients when choosing a dog food.
When an animal is slaughtered for human consumption, a large portion of the carcass and organs remain. These remnants are often what is used as the meat source in pet food. Since dogs in the wild would normally eat these parts, using them to produce dog food is not necessarily a bad practice. What is necessary is to ascertain that a sufficient quantity of Vitamins and protein are available from these sources.
The time to worry about the meat source is when ”4D” animals are used. ”4-D” animals are those recognized by the FDA and USDAA as ”down/ disabled, diseased, dying, or dead,” and they are not allowed to be sold for human consumption. Although the process of rendering this type of meat kills most disease-causing bacteria, it does not remove the toxins generated by the bacteria. These toxins can cause disease in dogs. Conditions that caused the animal to be 4D are numerous and often the diseased tissue is processed into the food product.
Worst of all, it is possible that some dog foods may include undefined meat sources-meats that are derived from rendering the remains of dogs and cats euthanised in animal pounds. There is no prohibition against the sale of these animal remains to rendering plants, and they are offered for re-sale to any off-brand pet food manufacturer who wishes to buy them. Several years ago, an investigative story in the San Francisco Chronicle disclosed this hidden practice, and the FDA and American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed it to be true.
Ingredient labels will not mention the inclusion of 4D or domestic animals, so how do you know if the dog food might contain these items? The price will be very low, and the product may contain mostly animal digest, meat by-products, and meat meal, without including the type of animal (such as chicken, lamb, etc.) from which the meat was derived. It may also have a strong or unappealing odour that is often masked by fatty sprays designed to make the dry food taste better.
The fats with which dry food is usually sprayed may be another ingredient where the source of origin is a potential problem. Since there are no regulations against the practice, some manufacturers may buy the leftover, used grease from restaurants and the food preparation industry. Again, this will not be noted on the label, but can be suspected if the fat sources have lengthy, indecipherable names, and if the price on the food is cheap.
The bottom line on pet food pricing: if it’s bargain basement priced, the food is not a good deal for your dog. But beware of the opposite side of this coin. Just because a dog food carries a hefty price tag, does not guarantee that it will be an exceptionally nutritious, healthy, or flavourful food for your dog. Before making a final decision, read consumer reviews and ask other Pomeranian owners for recommendations of brands on which their dogs have thrived. You will pay more for premium grade foods, but in the long run your dog will reap the benefits in improved nutrition and better health,
Making it yourself
Another dietary option is to forgo commercial dog foods and prepare your Pom’s food yourself. Home prepared and raw diets have become increasingly popular, and with a little research about nutrition, some time and effort, you can give your Pom a healthy diet lovingly made in your own kitchen.
Home Prepared Dog Foods
To follow the trend for healthier eating, some owners are now preparing their dogs’ food at home instead of buying it. There are several reasons to do this: to give you the satisfaction of making your dog feel special; to supply higher quality, human grade foods that you purchase; and to meet the needs of a special diet or avoid problem ingredients.
Preparing your Pom’s food can be as simple as increasing the amount of healthy meals you prepare for the rest of your family, and giving it to your dog. Or it can be as elaborate as buying dog-friendly cook books, special ingredients, and making multiple daily dishes just for your dog.
Before embarking on a canine culinary venture, it is important to learn all that you can about nutrition for your dog. Read books that offer not only recipes, but a nutritional analysis of the recipes as well as information on basic canine nutrition. If you prefer to concoct your own special blends of dog food, consider consulting a veterinary nutritionist about the content and quantity you plan to feed.
Understand your dog’s individual health concerns, in addition to knowing what appeals to his taste buds, before selecting the ingredients for his home-made meals. Most of the time, low-sodium/ salt, no or low sugars, and avoiding excess fats are the best choices. Protein in the form of meat, eggs, or possibly dairy products should constitute between 10 and 30 percent of your dog’s diet, complex carbohydrates, including fibre and whole grains, about 25 to 45 percent, and fat, an essential nutrient, the remainder.
Any fresh, lean cut which your Pomeranian likes can serve as the meat source. Possible choices are lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, venison, sometimes beef, and organ meats like liver, kidneys, or brain. The fat in the meat source may be sufficient so that no additional is required. If it is necessary to add fat, use oils like olive or sunflower, but stay away from corn or soy oils since they may be linked to causing or aggravating some health problems.
Carbohydrates can come from whole grains such as rice, oats, barley, and possibly wheat, if your dog is not sensitive to this grain. A nearly limitless assortment of vegetables and fruits should be included to provide complex carbohydrates. Avoid onions, raisins, grapes, and some nuts like almonds and macadamia, which are purported to induce serious reactions in some dogs. You may also wish to exclude veggies like cabbage that can ferment and cause flatulence.
Herbs commonly used to flavour your own dishes may also be used in your dog’s recipes, but use sparingly. And offer your Pomeranian a changing selection of foods. Unlike the recommendation to always feed a single dry dog food, home-made doggy meals can and should rotate their ingredients, unless you have been instructed otherwise by your veterinarian.
Cook your dog’s meals with the same precautions you use when handling ingredients for human consumption. Store unused portions in the refrigerator and discard any that remains uneaten after about three days.
Check in a few weeks to see how your dog’s skin and coat look. Is the skin supple and without flakes? Is his fur shiny and full? Does your dog appear more energetic or act like he feels better? If yes, then you are likely on the right track with his menus. Regardless, remember to keep your veterinarian informed and up to date on your Pom’s health when you feed a home cooked diet.
The ultimate choice in home-prepared dog food is feeding raw. Sometimes referred to as BARF, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods, this special diet is meant to closely replicate the foods that a dog might eat in the wild. The theory behind feeding this primal fare is that this food form is what a dog’s system was made to digest, and thus provides nutrition that results in the greatest levels of health.
Raw meal recipes are based on combining about 60 to 70 percent raw meat and about 30 to 40 percent vegetables, preferably fresh. Meats used are usually chicken, beef, or lamb, obtained fresh from a butcher and prepared by home chunking or grinding on the day of preparation. Vegetables can be Whatever your dog likes and are ground in with the meat. Carbohydrates in the form of cereal grains like barley, oats, rice, or even pasta can be added, as can some fruits. Bones are normally included in the BARF diet, also in raw form. With the proper nutrient balance, raw can be fed either a few times a week, or for all meals.
The thought of feeding raw may make some owners’ stomachs turn and can definitely raise questions of safety and health. Raw meat harbours greater numbers of disease-inducing bacteria than does cooked meat. But dogs have shorter intestinal tracts and more acidic stomachs, and may be less likely to be affected adversely by E. coli or salmonella, the bacterial culprits that most commonly cause food poisoning.
Feeding raw requires that the meat source be fresh and clean, and that is it safely handled and processed. Some sources suggest freezing the meat before preparing the meals (thaw only in the refrigerator, never at room temperature), and others suggest a quick dip in boiling water, or a rinse with grapefruit seed extract to reduce or kill bacteria. Once prepared, raw meals need to be separated into individual serving size portions, packaged and sealed, then frozen. Just like meats far human consumption, shelf life is limited, even in the freezer, so date the package before storing and discard it if it becomes too old. Prepared raw meat meals should be thawed in the refrigerator Where they should never be stored longer than two days.
There is also a risk to feeding bones. Although uncooked bones are softer and less likely to splinter, the possibility still exists for bone fragments to become lodged in or perforate the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, or intestines. Such obstructions or perforations require medical attention, often emergency surgery, and can result in death. Because of the Pom’s tiny size, if you are going to feed raw bones, they should be completely ground in with the meat and vegetable mixture.
Preparing a raw diet for your Pom’s meals can be a rather complicated process that involves frequent shopping trips for ingredients, and the purchase of supplies such as grinders, knives, cutting boards, and storage containers for making and packaging the meals. Extensive precautions must be taken when handling the raw meat and the implements used on it. Then when the preparation is complete, a thorough cleaning and sanitation of the prep items and surfaces must follow. Several dog food manufacturers offer a foundation product meant to provide a complete and balanced raw diet, and which helps reduce the amount of effort needed to prepare raw. These products come frozen, and owners add a few ingredients of their own choosing after thawing.
Feeding raw meat can pose serious health risks to both animals and humans. Gastroenteritis, amoebic intestinal infection, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, and even death can ensue if the raw meat is contaminated with enough bacteria. Dogs can become carriers of some bacterial gastrointestinal disease without being infected, posing a risk to other animals and humans in the household. If you’re going to feed a raw diet to your dog, be extremely cautious in your purchases and preparations, and remain alert for any symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.
Despite the involved preparation, BARF diets may be a route to optimum health. Some owners swear by a raw diet for dogs who have certain skin, coat, thyroid, or intestinal problems. Before starting your dog on a BARF diet, always consult with your veterinarian and contact her immediately if your dog shows symptoms of a new illness.
Time for dinner
For optimum nutrition, dogs need to be fed regular meals, usually within a certain time frame. But a little flexibility in feeding schedules is also acceptable. A dog that can adapt to small changes in his meal times Will be less stressed when you are delayed in getting his food in front of him by life’s unavoidable, unpredictable events.
How often and how much you feed your dog depends largely on his age, health status, and activity level. Pomeranian owners should keep in mind that this is an active breed. Despite their diminutive stature, they still have the same, and sometimes higher, nutritional requirements as that of larger dogs. Because of his small size, it may be more difficult for a Pom to ingest enough calories or nutrients in one or even two daily feedings. So, unless your Porn is a couch potato, choose a food that is energy and nutrient-dense to help maximize the nutrition he receives from the small portion it will take to fill him up at meal time.
Puppies need to eat at frequent intervals. They need to consume more calories because of their increased energy levels, and they require higher levels of nutrients to support their growing bodies. Until age 3 to 4 months, puppies usually need to eat at least four times daily. Between the ages of 5 and 8-10 months, three daily feedings may be sufficient. After the age of 1 year, when they have reached full growth, they can be placed on an adult feeding schedule (see below). Space meals about 3 to 4 hours apart over a period of 13 to 16 hours while your puppy is on a four-times-daily schedule. Serve the first meal when you and pup wake up, and the last about an hour or so before he goes to bed. Three meals should be evenly spaced throughout the day from waking until bedtime.
Use the same guidelines for choosing a puppy food as you would any other dog food. It’s best to bring home a bit of your breeder’s kibble to continue feeding your puppy as he adapts to his new home. If you plan on changing brands, do so gradually, taking at least three or more days. Mix in a little of the new food with the old, until you are no longer serving the original food. Puppies can usually be switched to an adult kibble by the time they are nearing one year of age. Additionally, several brands of premium dog food fill their kibble with sufficient, quality nutrients that they do not offer a separate puppy formula. Because these foods have the right nutrients in proper ratio and quantity, the additional daily feedings your puppy receives provide the extra calories and minerals necessary to support his growth. Choose the type which best helps your puppy to thrive.
Feeding Adult Dogs
Although not fully grown or mature, by the age of 7 to 9 months, as far as diet is concerned, your Pomeranian can be considered an adult and is ready to be fed regular food. He won’t completely reach adulthood until sometime between the ages of 18 to 24 months, but once he has left the rapid growth stage of early puppy-hood, puppy food is too rich and too high in some nutrients such as calcium to continue feeding. It used to be suggested that adult dogs should be fed once daily, but following the results of studies, this thinking has changed. Because of their more rapid metabolisms and their small stomachs, Poms may not be able to get enough energy and nutrients from a single feeding. And a single daily feeding may lead to problems with hypoglycaemia, a too-common problem for this small dog, anyway.
Most dogs, including Pomeranians, feel better if they are fed twice daily throughout their adult life. If your Porn is hypoglycaemic, three meals a day may be more suitable. Meal times for adults should be spaced evenly apart, about every 12 hours, once in the morning and once in the evening. If your schedule permits, a third meal, should be fed in-between. If this is not possible, try to feed your Pom at lunch time, or as soon as you come home from work.
As dogs age, their metabolisms slow and energy levels drop. Older dogs may develop a tendency to gain weight, while it is also possible for some older dogs to become too thin. These changes in weight depend largely on your dog’s overall health status and activity level.
The age at which this happens varies from dog to dog. Generally, dogs are considered senior at age seven, but for the longer-lived Pomeranian, senior status may be a few more years away. It may prove difficult to determine exactly which day you should change your dog’s food to a senior product, so watch for subtle clues that he’s slowing down.
Some of the best clues as to when it’s time to switch to a senior food can be gleaned from results of blood tests taken at an annual well-dog exam. Indicators of kidney, heart, liver, and digestive tract function are the signs that will say when, and what type of senior food your Pomeranian may need.
For those prone to weight gain, a food with reduced fats and calories may be the right recipe. Seniors that are underweight, or dogs whose finicky eating habits have increased with age, will need more calories and possibly more protein. Recent studies have shown that aging dogs need more protein to maintain muscle mass and normal organ function. Only in specific health conditions, such as when the kidneys fail to process protein correctly, is it necessary to reduce an ageing dog’s protein consumption.
As your Pomeranian grows older, watch closely for changes in eating habits that may indicate the beginning of an age-related health problem with the liver, pancreas, heart, or other ageing organs. Special diets may be needed to compensate for failing health. Ask your veterinarian which is best for your senior.
An older dog may lose some sense of taste and smell which can make food less appealing. Adding flavourful but healthy titbits of meat, sodium-free broth, canned food, or soft vegetables may pique interest in a failing appetite. A healthy and tasty diet is one of the best ways you can show your senior Pom that you still care.
Leaving dry food in a bowl that is available for your dog all through the day-and maybe night too-is a meal plan known as free-choice feeding. This option allows the tiny Pom who may eat slowly, or a senior who may only eat a little at a time, to be able to nibble when he pleases. It can be a useful alternative for finicky eaters who can’t be persuaded to eat an entire meal at a scheduled time. And for the energetic, hypoglycaemic Pom (see Chapter 8 for more information), it may be the only choice for maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
Many breeders recommend using free-choice feeding for puppies to prevent hypoglycaemia and provide enough energy for toy dogs who may not be able to ingest enough calories at one meal to maintain them until the next scheduled feeding time. When a puppy reaches about six months, then again every couple of months into adulthood, he can be evaluated for weight gain: if his weight stays satisfactory, then he can be kept on a free-choice feeding plan.
Free-choice feeding should not be used for Pomeranians who show an inclination to overeat or gain weight.
For households with multiple dogs, free-choice feeding may not work as well because it becomes I quite difficult to monitor individual food intake. . Besides the possibility of a fight over food ‘ breaking out, some dogs may eat too much food while others eat too little, and special diets can’t be controlled.
If your dog develops a health condition like diabetes, inflammatory bowel, kidney, or heart disease, he may need to be placed on a controlled diet consisting of a special prescription food. A few pet food manufacturers supply a large variety of canned and some dry foods made from ingredients aimed directly at preventing some conditions, controlling symptoms of others, or restricting and balancing specific nutrients in the diet. These foods are available only by prescription and must be purchased through a veterinary clinic. Dogs who need these special foods will first have been tested for and diagnosed with a specific condition by a veterinarian. The appropriate food is prescribed and a diet planned out as part of the treatment plan. These foods may need to be fed for only a limited period of time, or for the life of your dog. They may be given once or twice daily, either as the sole item in the diet or in conjunction with other regulated foods. Your vet will also advise you about what foods your dog may have and those which he must not be fed while he is eating these specially formulated and balanced foods.
Before taking your dog off of a prescription diet, Cheek with your veterinarian.
Even on a special diet, it may be possible for you to offer your dog treats or some home cooked meals, as long as you know which ingredients and nutrients to use, withhold, or limit. In some cases, preparing your dog’s food may be the special diet that is just right for managing his health.
Special diets may also include elimination diets for dogs who have food-related allergies or digestive dysfunction. On an elimination diet, your dog will be restricted to a single, ”novel” protein and carbohydrate source. ”Novel” means that your dog would never have eaten the ingredient before. Such uncommon proteins can include buffalo, duck, venison, fish, and kangaroo. Because cereal grains are often allergens, novel carbohydrates used in elimination diets are usually starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, or peas.
While on an elimination diet, treats and edible chew toys are completely prohibited. The test diet usually lasts anywhere from four to eight weeks, but a trend for improvement or a lack of change may be noticeable within two weeks.
Once the trial is ended, a new food may be introduced, and can be maintained as long as no signs of allergies or digestive dysfunction occur. If symptoms return, the elimination diet should be started again. Then your dog can either be switched to yet a different food at the end, or maintained on the hypo-allergenic diet.
Dogs being fed prescription or elimination diets should be closely observed for changes in their health and nutritional status, as well as bladder and bowel habits. If there are problems or if you have questions, contact your veterinarian at once.
Any nutrient like Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, cultures, enzymes, and derivatives or complex compounds of these substances, can be considered as supplements when they are added to a diet. They are concentrated, isolated versions of nutrients or ingredients that can be found in various food or organic sources. In most cases, dogs who are fed a premium-quality kibble as the mainstay of their diet are more than likely receiving the proper amount of vitamins and minerals in the correct ratios. Supplementing these nutrients is seldom necessary in such diets. Actually, some health problems are attributable to over supplementation. Fat-soluble vitamins, like A, can cause liver toxicity in high doses. Potassium out of balance with magnesium can result in muscle cramps, heart rhythm irregularities, and digestive upset. Minerals like calcium can contribute to kidney and heart problems, and skeletal malformation.
If you are feeding a diet which requires that you add multiple supplements on a regular basis, this is a strong indication that the food is not meeting your dog’s nutritional needs. Look for different ingredients, or another brand-one that provides all the essential nutrients without having to add additional products.
However, some situations may warrant the addition of certain supplements to your dog’s diet. Your veterinarian might advise you to provide additional vitamins and minerals if your dog is recovering from surgery, serious illness, or an injury, where a temporary increase in these nutrients may facilitate healing. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may help support joint health in arthritis or patellar luxation. Fatty-acid supplements, such as fish oils, evening primrose, and flax seed oils, may prove beneficial to Pomeranians with conditions that have a negative impact on skin or fur. Because nutritious food is a cornerstone to good health, a proper diet, along with nutritional supplements, may help prevent or relieve symptoms in Pomeranians prone to various health problems. Before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet regimen, consult with your veterinarian about which ones to use, how much you should give, and for how long your dog should receive the supplement.
The snacks-“junk food”-of the doggy world, treats are probably available in as many flavours, shapes, and sizes as there are types of dogs. Because treats are not designed to be a component of a dog’s regular diet, they are not made with nutrition in mind. They are meant to appeal to doggy taste buds-and to owners’ hearts when they make their dogs happy by feeding them treats.
Treats are made with the same variety of ingredients and additives that are used in dry kibble and semi-moist foods. But they tend to have more artificial flavourings and colour added, and are usually higher in fat, sugars, sodium, and calories. Because of this, a slight reduction in quantity of main food should be made in your dog’s diet to allow for the additional caloric intake if you are feeding him treats (and what dog owner is not going to give their Pomeranian the occasional tasty titbit?).
For the Pomeranian who has food sensitivities or is on a special diet for a health condition like kidney disease, treats must be selected with the same care as when choosing his daily food. In these Circumstances, it is best to consult with your veterinarian about what brands or types of treats you can offer and how often.
It is possible to buy healthy, lower calorie, more ”natural” treats. Dry treats are preferable over moist ones because they are better for teeth and may contain less artificial additives. Just read labels closely when selecting a healthy treat for your dog. Or offer him a baby carrot, a bite of broccoli, or a couple of blueberries.
If you are eating a healthy meal yourself, it’s not unreasonable to give your dog a bite of your plain baked yarn or a nibble of your lean chicken as a treat. But put these titbits in his bowl instead of feeding them directly from your plate; this helps discourage begging. Owners who want to go the extra step, or whose dogs are on restricted diets, can prepare treats from scratch. Just don’ t go overboard. Follow the same guidelines that apply to preparing a healthy home-cooked diet for your dog.
Battle of the bulge
Nearly every week there’s at least one story in the news about obesity. Reports consistently show that more people are gaining more and more weight. The news is no different in the world of pets – more dogs are getting heavier and suffering the consequences of excess weight than ever before.
Like their larger Nordic cousins, most Pomeranians like to eat. And like all northern breeds, the weight can pile on quickly. This is because the metabolism of the Nordic breeds is geared to see them through tough winters that may be short on food. The dogs’ ancestors were programmed to eat as much as they could when food was available, and their bodies would store the calories as fat. Then, in lean times, they could break down the fat into energy and survive with less food. Although many years have passed and plenty of food is readily available to today’s Pomeranians, their metabolism still retains its ancient programming.
Even after eating a full meal, your Pom may try to convince you that he is still hungry and needs more food. But don’t let those cute dark eyes and his pitiful looks cajole you into giving him too much to eat. Plus, just as in the selection of people foods, there is a huge variety of tasty dog foods and treats, that make it too easy for a dog to pack on the pounds while happily chowing down.
It is not a dog’s fault if he gets too hefty, since he is not the one determining what he is eating each day. The responsibility for obesity in a dog can be laid directly at the feet of his owner. What’s the best way to address the problem of obesity? Prevent it by not overfeeding your dog.
This may not always be possible. Weight is easily gained while a dog is inactive or recuperating from surgery such as patellar repair, a common problem in Pomeranians. Or if you have just adopted an older dog, he may come into your home already overweight. And when your dog stares at you as if he’s going to faint from hunger, you may not always be able to resist his demand for a tasty titbit.
The urge to express your affection and love for your Pom with food must be resisted. Food is not love. Love means keeping your dog at a healthy weight. Just because you feel guilty when he stares at you while you’re snacking, doesn’t mean you should give your dog some of your sugar cookies or potato chips. The real guilt should come only if you consistently overfeed your dog and allow him to gain too much weight.
Obesity kills. It reduces the quality of your dog’s life at the very least. Overweight Pomeranians have a greater likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, or liver dysfunction. They can suffer from shortness of breath, decreased stamina and energy, and intolerance to heat. For such a tiny breed, excess weight is almost a guarantee of worsening patellar luxation in a dog already prone to this problem.
If your Pomeranian is overweight, love him enough to put him on a diet. The recipe for weight loss is pretty basic:
- Reduce caloric intake, increase caloric burn.
- Cut back on the quantity of food for each meal.
- Pour a little water on dry food, or add a salt-free, low-calorie rice cake to help your dog feel more full. Adding a small spoonful of plain, canned pumpkin can also increase the feeling of fullness with very few calories.
- Exercise your dog every day, or at least several times a week.
- Take him for longer walks or take him more often. If he has health problems that restrict his capacity for exercise, increase his daily activity a little at time, exercising for short periods but more often throughout the day. (If your Porm is overweight and has patellar luxation, ask your vet about an exercise plan that is safe for his orthopaedic condition.)
- Offer low calorie treats like carrots, green beans, a slice of banana, a bite of melon, berries, a little lick of fat-free yoghurt, or buy bite size, low-calorie treats.
The commitment to keep your dog on a diet is harder than executing the plan itself. It’s so difficult to resist those cute little pleading eyes, or the feeling that you’re being unkind by not sharing a goody with your Pom. But for his welfare, feed him a healthy treat instead and keep him fit and trim.
As owner, it will be up to you to teach your dog appropriate meal time behaviour since there is no Emily Pawst or Amy Pomeranianbilt.
You feed your dog on a regular basis so he doesn’t have to beg for his supper. Likewise, don’t allow him to beg for yours. Your dog has more of an opportunity to try and talk you into giving him the food off your plate if he has nothing better to do while you are eating. No matter what cute tricks he performs for a bite of your food, don’t give him one. This reinforces begging behaviour which can and usually will escalate to the point where he barks non-stop, paws at your legs, and may even steal your food.
One of the best ways to prevent-or stop-begging is to place your dog in his crate along with a fun toy while you have your dinner. You can also put up a baby gate that cuts off his access to the kitchen while you are cooking or dining. Another option is, once you have served yourself, to serve up his food, then place him in his crate to eat while you are eating too.
If you really can’t resist the urge to share a bite of your dinner with your Pom, ask him to lie down in place and wait. Once you are finished eating you can reward him for being obedient with a little taste of a healthy food from your supper. Meal time can be used as an opportunity to practice basic commands such as ”sit” and ”stay.” When your Pom responds to your commands correctly, offer him his own bowl while praising him enthusiastically.
In a multi-dog household, meal time etiquette should be compared to that of a formal dinner party: each dog must eat at his own appointed seat. Although house-mates may normally get along well together, each dog needs his own bowl and separate eating space. Individual crates or feeding areas in the kitchen, or whichever room is the designated dog room, work well for this. Separating multiple dogs from one another during dinner will keep any one of them from having to share his dinner and thereby prevent any growling, snapping or food hoarding, or a fight before it can get started. Also, it’s the only way that you can make certain that any dog on a special diet gets exactly what he is supposed to eat.
Keep your dog’s eating zone free from distractions like chores that will have you running in and out of the house, children at play, or loud, noisy appliances. He won’t appreciate having his meal interrupted anymore than you would. Whether your dog eats with you or at his own set time, in his crate or the kitchen, place his food in his eating area and give him the time to eat.
Unless your Pom must have access to dry food at all times such as part of a plan for preventing hypoglycaemia when he finishes his meal, take up his bowl and wash it. If he doesn’t finish after sufficient time (15 to 20 minutes), pick up his bowl and put it away until the next meal (in the refrigerator if it contains food that can spoil, and discard if he doesn’t eat it the next time you try to feed). Dawdling at dinner may sometimes develop into finicky eating habits.
Your dog doesn’t have to empty his bowl every time he eats, but if his appetite decreases, this could be a sign that health problems are brewing. If your dog tends to be a little finicky or doesn’t like eating that well, smell his food. Some picky eaters have keen senses of smell and if the odour of the food is not fresh, may refuse to eat. If this is the case, change his food for fresh or switch to a variety that has a better odour.
Although the cause may never be completely understood, there are other reasons why a dog may be picky eater. If health problems aren’t the reason, and his food normally appeals to him, your response should usually remain the same: give your dog the time to eat, and if he doesn’t, remove his bowl. When he’s hungry, he will eat. There are a few situations when missing a portion of a single meal could upset your dog’s health, for example, if your Porn is one of those prone to low blood sugar. In such cases, your veterinarian may advise you about special techniques to use or foods to give to make certain your dog does not skip a necessary meal.
Just as with any other training, committing to a regular diet and meal plan, and consistently reinforcing proper meal time behaviour is good for your dog’s health and well-being. Your dog may never eat in a public restaurant, but when you have company for dinner, his table manners will make him a welcome guest, too.