Dog owners have many concerns, in this article we'll look at diet, nutrition and digestive health to include the eating habbits of your furry friend...

We'll also take a look at obesity, and why it's one of the most common nutritional diseases in American dogs today.

The Dog's Mechanics of Eating

Many dog owners think that every different breed of dog must be fed differently, according to some sort of specification.  However, the eating behavior of a dog is characteristic of the whole species, not of any individual breed, since all dogs eat the same way.  As a result, there are certain general considerations that can be made when feeding any dog.

A dog is not required to eat its food the same way a man does. For instance, a dog has no hands.  It's jaws are suited for biting and cutting rather than chewing.  There are few “gag” reflex nerves at the back of a dog's mouth, but many in a person's throat.  A dog has fewer taste buds on its tongue, but a much greater sense of smell than a man has.

How A Dog Eats

While the eating behavior of a dog may seem strange or awkward to some dog owners, to the dog it is the most comfortable and satisfactory way of getting its food from its bowl into its stomach.  The normal pattern of swallowing in a dog is often described as “bolting”.  The dog picks up a piece of food with its front teeth and with a short, quick thrust of its head, tosses the piece of food back onto the top of its tongue.  The piece of food is then rolled (without being chewed) to the back of the mouth.  As the piece reaches the base of the tongue, a reflex causes the back of the tongue to push the food upward and backward into the esophagus.  From there it is carried directly into the stomach.

When a piece of food is too large to be swallowed, the dog holds the food with its paws and uses its front teeth to tear off smaller pieces that can be swallowed.  If the food is too tough to be torn, the dog will cut it into pieces small enough to be swallowed, using two specialized jaw teeth.

These teeth are called carnassial teeth and have large shearing surfaces that act like scissor blades which can cut through such tough substances as muscle, hide, gristle, and even bone.  While the powerful jaw muscles of a dog are useful for cutting chunks of food into swallowing size, these muscles are used very little for actually chewing those pieces.  A dog's teeth are few in number and poorly equipped for mastication.


Setting Good Eating Habits

A dog's eating habits are controlled by three things: its brain, its experiences, and its environment.  The very first experiment in behavioral psychology was done by a scientist named Pavlov who taught dogs to get ready to eat when they heard a certain sound.  Since that initial experiment, scientists have observed over and over how important the things happening around, and to a dog are when it comes to affecting the dog's eating habits.

Once, when dogs were wild, most of their daily activity was devoted to obtaining a meal.  While the need for this activity has practically disappeared, mealtime still constitutes one of the most important events in a dog's life.  And, many of a dog's behavioral responses are still linked to its eating routine.

Today's dogs have become creatures of habit.  They thrive on monotony and are most comfortable when things remain the same.  Few dogs appreciate a sudden change in their sleeping quarters or the surprise of a new food in their bowl.  The more that can be done to prevent change in a dog's feeding program, the better it will be for both the dog and its owner.  Regularity in feeding promotes good appetite, good digestion and regular eliminations.  Therefore, the first general consideration to be made when feeding any dog should be the establishment of a regular feeding schedule and should stay that way without being altered.


Obesity In Dogs

Obesity is the most common nutritional disease in American dogs today.  It is the result of simply eating more calories than are burned.  Dogs have a built-in protection against this disease, a control mechanism in their brains that satisfies their hunger after they have eaten enough calories to meet their daily energy needs.  However, it is possible to upset this control mechanism.  By feeding the dog a food that is highly palatable, he will eat to satisfy his appetite and not his hunger.

The only way to remove the excessive fat from a dog's body is by reversing the way it was put on, which is feeding the dog fewer calories than he will burn for energy.  When this is done, the dog's body will burn up energy stored in his body to obtain what he needs. Fat is the most efficient source of energy and will be used in the greatest amount whenever energy is needed.

A reduction in calorie intake cannot be achieved by just cutting down the quantity of food you feed your dog.  Drastic cuts in the quantity of food fed will only lead to deficiencies that pose an even greater threat to the dog than the obesity does which are deficiencies of proteins, vitamins and minerals.  It will also make your dog ravenously hungry!  Fats and carbohydrates that contain the most calories should be replaced by ingredients that are less digestible and lower in calories.

Good digestion is key when taking into account your dog's diet, and the addition of Probiotics could be of huge benefit.

The Benefits of Probiotics

There are mаnу bеnеfitѕ tо uѕing рrоbiоtiсѕ fоr dоgѕ, juѕt as they dо fоr humаnѕ, рrоbiоtiсѕ hеlр dоgѕ рrеvеnt and rеliеvе iѕѕuеѕ with digestion.

Many mау dесidе tо start thеir реtѕ on рrоbiоtiсѕ when thеir dogs are ѕtill рuррiеѕ to tаkе advantage оf thе bеnеfitѕ of рrоbiоtiсѕ. A puppy аlrеаdу hаѕ a сlеаn and sterile digеѕtivе tract, ѕо thе tract can actually bе fоrtifiеd during thiѕ timе.

Wеаning is аlѕо аnоthеr timе рrоbiоtiсѕ аrе vеrу bеnеfiсiаl since they help thе digеѕtivе ѕуѕtеm аdjuѕt from mother's milk tо wet оr drу dog fооd аѕ wеll аѕ аdjuѕt tо digеѕtiоn аnd аbѕоrрtiоn tо nutrients.

To read more about probiotics, please visit the following article: 'Dog Digestive Health: The Benefits of Probiotics'.

Further Reading

Do you know how healthy your dogs diet is? An astounding 52.6% of US dogs are overweight or obese according to a study carried out by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).

Not only do overweight dogs suffer from joint problems at an earlier age, their extra weight increases the stress on their joints, accelerating their decline and causing more intense pain.

Discover if your dog is overweight, how to identify your dogs ideal weight, and how to ensure your furry friend is eating all the nutrients they need from the following link:

How Healthy is Your Dog’s Diet?