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How to Pick the Best Food for Your Dog

How to Pick the Best Food for Your Dog

We all want what’s best for our canine best friends. It can be difficult to find the best dog food among the myriad of brands that are available everywhere you look. You can’t trust prices, because the most expensive brands aren’t necessarily the best, and the cheapest isn’t always the worst for your dog.

So how do you figure out what will work best for your furry friend?

Puppies

Start when your buddy is a baby. The right nutrition in the first year of their life is extremely important for a puppy’s growth and development. Finding the right dog food for puppies can seem like a big task, but at least there are special puppy formulas in almost every brand with additional nutrients and vitamins that puppies need to grow.

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One main difference between puppy and adult dog food is that puppy food has a much higher protein content. Look for puppy foods that are at least 30% protein, and contain 10-20% fat, depending on your dogs’ size and breed. One way to judge the value and quality of your puppy food is to make sure the first ingredient listed on the label is protein-rich meat, such as salmon, chicken, duck, or others.

In addition to the nutritional benefit, puppy food also has smaller pieces, which are easier for your little buddy to chew, swallow, and digest!

Adult Dogs

Your dog should have the best-balanced food for his adult needs, too. Some breeds are prone to bone issues, allergies, or weight problems and you should talk to your vet about special diets or supplemental needs if that is the case. Adult dogs should be fed twice per day, and require the carbohydrates, fat, and protein to maintain their energy and repair their body tissue.

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The most common adult dog food is dry kibble. It has the nutrients your dog needs, it’s relatively inexpensive, and you can find it everywhere. Canned, also known as wet, dog food is another great option. Make sure you’re still checking ingredients, but many picky dogs will happily eat wet food, and wet food tends to have more protein than dry.

You can also make dog food at home. This option will definitely allow you to know exactly what you’re feeding your pet but can be more expensive and definitely more time consuming than buying food at the pet store. There are a lot of recipes online if you’re interested in looking into this option!

Fillers, By-Products, & More

Some commercial dog foods can have ingredients like meat “by-product,” which means a part of an animal not intended for human consumption. Though that may sound bad, according to PetMD, “in many cases, by-products are high in nutritional value and are not an issue.”

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You may also have heard about fillers. In cat food, fillers such as corn may be bad for them. In dog food, the right fillers in the right amounts, like corn or chicken meal, can have the carbohydrates and fats your pet needs.

Switching Foods

Unless your dog has an iron stomach and no digestive response to different foods, the prevailing method for transitioning between dog foods is to change over gradually, over a period of 5-7 days. Start with 80% old food and 20% new, mixing a little more new into every meal until it is 100% new food.

If you are switching foods suddenly due to a health issue, you can make the transition as easy as possible by checking labels and finding a very similar formula of food. Also consider feeding your dog smaller meals more often, so that you can monitor if they eat it and if they have any stomach issues. If you do need to switch food suddenly, make sure your veterinarian is aware and has checked over your pet for any health issues they may have.

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When it comes to picking your dog’s food, you should start when he is a puppy. Make sure to get high-protein puppy-specific food, then transitioning to an adult dog food at 8-12 months, when their nutritional needs change depending on their size.

As they grow, continue looking for real ingredients and always check with your veterinarian to discuss any specific needs your dog might have. Always watch out for your dog’s energy levels and if their appetite changes. There are a lot of options, but having this information will help you make the right decision for you and your four-legged bestie.

Featured photo credit: Winsker via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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