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Keeping Fido Healthy

Besides genetics, a dog's diet may be the most important contributor to his overall good health. A healthy, balanced diet helps your pooch's digestive system function properly as well as improving bone density and coat quality, adding years of life to your special canine. While most dogs are not known for being finicky eaters, it is not uncommon to come across a few that are especially choosy at mealtime. And there may be good reason for their pickiness.

In fact, many dogs have food intolerance and food allergies. Some dogs are allergic to grains such as wheat, soy, or corn--main ingredients in many pet foods. Others may be allergic to certain types of protein ingredients in pet food. Dogs with food allergies usually show easily-recognizable symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive gas. Some dogs with food allergies may even eat grass to help soothe their upset stomachs. For dogs with so-called "sensitive stomachs", it is fairly easy to pinpoint the source of their food sensitivity, and change their diet accordingly.

Besides appeasing your dog's choosy eating habits, there may be a variety of other reasons for switching up Fido's diet a bit. For example, older, less active dogs may need to switch, if they are not already on one, to a diet that is both higher in protein and carbohydrates. Dogs with diseases such as diabetes may require a high-protein diet with a moderate amount of fat and less carbohydrates.

With that said, some breeds are just innately more active than others and may require an extra jolt from their food in terms of a higher caloric intake. Some of those less active breeds, such as your average bulldog, may have a tendency to put on a few extra pounds so switching it up once in awhile per your vet's instructions may be a good idea, in order to help them shed those extra rolls.

While there is some debate as to what constitutes the ideal diet for a dog, there is a strong consensus among experts when it comes to switching foods.

Switching foods is a fairly simple process. According to petmd.com, the switch to a new dietary regimen can be broken down into five simple steps:

Day 1 - Mix 20% of the new food with 80% of the old.
Day 2 - Mix 40% of the new food with 60% of the old.
Day 3 - Mix 60% of the new food with 40% of the old.
Day 4 - Mix 80% of the new food with 20% of the old.
Day 5 - Feed 100% of the new food.
*If at any point during this process your dog stops eating or develops vomiting or diarrhea, do not feed any more of the new food and call the office.

Remember, the secret to your dog's health and longevity may lie in his diet as well as his type of breed. So, keep in mind this simple protocol so you can keep your furry friend around for a long, long time.