Nutritional deficiency what to look for.

In our last article will looked at role of calcium, phosphorous, zinc, boron and sulphur in dog’s physiology and the effect of these minerals in the skeleton system. This week we’re delving into a few signs and symptoms of nutritional deficiencies in dogs.

Every dog needs a balanced and regular intake of fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.  It is not easy to know whether or not your dog is getting everything they need in balanced proportions necessary for their individual needs.  A general consensus is the assumption that nutritional deficiencies are directly related to the quality of food your dog receives, however this is not always the case.  Malnutrition comes from the three main antagonist.

  • Insufficient quantity of food
  • Food with low nutritional value
  • Digestive diseases retarding the necessary absorption of nutrients

Quantity is always an issue.  Most quality providers of pet foods have feeding guides relative to weight printed on their packaging.  These guides are as they say “guides” and don’t and cannot consider the dog’s environment or metabolisms. The knowledge that the dog is an inside dog with relatively low activity or a dog living a highly active lifestyle is not known. It is the responsibility of the dog owner to monitor and adjust food quantity suitable to their dog’s environment and lifestyle.
A general guideline to apply is understanding your dog’s natural weight once past puppy stage. A dog will maintain roughly the same weight for the rest of its life.  Knowing this; monitoring your dog for weight gain or weight loss will indicate when the food quantity is too high or insufficient.

Clever packaging and marketing can unfortunately lead to commercial dog foods labelled as “complete and balanced”, however they don’t necessarily offer the best quality nutrition for your dog.  Many of these foods have preservatives, artificial colours and other stabilisers. Furthermore, many dogs do have adverse allergic reactions to ingredients including corn, soy, wheat, additives and salt.

When your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, they’re most likely not absorbing valuable nutrients and losing these nutrients through uncomfortable discharge.  Digestive disease must be treated by your vet before your dog has a chance to return to their happy state.

There are some key signs and symptoms indicating whether your dog is eating a proper diet.

Generalised symptoms dogs will experience:

Change in feces. 
A healthy bowel movement will show colour, consistency, coating and content.  Your dog feces should be a chocolate brown colour, malleable like a putty, show no signs of mucus residue and be foreign object free.  If you notice any abnormalities outside of these signs for a period longer than 24 – 48 hours your dog may be experiencing health digestive issues possibly related to nutritional deficiency.

* Depression.
Like humans a dog gut biome indicates everything from the type of feces to their mood. When a dog has an unhealthy or imbalance within the gut biome this can lead to depression and lethargy.  When you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour such as lethargy and out of character mood changes your dog may have a case of malnutrition or nutritional deficiency.

 * Skin & coat 
Skin and coat disorders are obvious signs that your dog is lacking in some vitamins and minerals.  Skin and coat disorders are common, and vitamins and minerals maintain healthy skin, coat and fur.  Without adequate vitamins and minerals in a dog diet they’re prone to hair loss, skin disease and infection.

Identifying a nutritional deficiency as an underlying problem you have simple treatment options to follow.  If your dog is losing or gaining weight you need to alter their food intake. If their diet and exercise regimes haven’t changed your pet may have a stomach bug and seeing your vet should resolve the issue in a timely manner. If you dog is not experiencing vomiting or diarrhea but is displaying the symptoms mentioned here your dog may need a supplement.  Supplements can be a very effective treatment for many conditions however it is important that you consult your vet in the first instance and ensure you dispense supplements in accordance with your vet’s advice.

Keep in mind that symptoms can be the result of multiple deficiencies.  If your pet has dry and flaky skin along with a dull coat, he could be suffering from several vitamin deficiencies. Some deficiencies are very specific and can indicate more serious health problems.  It is important to continually monitor your dog’s wellbeing and physical appearance for changes and any anomalies. 

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