Last week's column took a look at dog food labels and how to differentiate between a good dog food and a horrible one. There are lots of pretty awful foods on the market. You cannot buy a cheap pet food and expect to get good quality ingredients. On the other hand, not all expensive foods are made with top sources of protein, such as chicken and lamb. Read the label. Although I talked about dogs, the same rules apply to cat food.
Beyond deciding on a brand of pet food, you must also choose from a huge variety of foods. We have food specifically formulated for big dogs, small dogs, old dogs and puppies. There are now even some breed specific foods. The decisions are not always easy. Many foods today are age specific. Puppies need puppy food with the special nutrition for building strong bones, teeth and good health. At 10 to 12 months of age with most dogs, switch to an adult formula, unless your dog is very slow maturing breed.
Too often we rush to put our dogs on a senior formula. A healthy, active dog may never need to go on a senior formula. Senior formulas contain fillers such as peanut hulls, which offer no nutritional benefits. Most people switch to a senior formula because their pet is too heavy. A diet formula offers many of the same fillers as the senior formulas. The ideal situation is to keep your dog slim and active. About half of all pets are overweight. The best remedy for that is -- feed less, exercise more. Sound familiar?
A recent article in The Whole Dog Journal reports new findings regarding an older dog's need for protein. Senior formulas have had reduced protein, but the new research is showing the older dogs need higher levels of good protein.
Feed your dog twice a day as you sit down to eat your own breakfast and dinner. Set the food down and set the timer. If the food is not eaten in 20 to 30 minutes, pick it up and put it away. Feed again at the next meal. Do not give any treats if the dog is not eating his dog food.
I have several events to report. Lori Chandler is providing a country dog clinic at the home of Annemarie Eveland from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28. Call for more information, (928) 978-0089.
Payson Parks is offering a Pet First Aid and CPR course on Saturday, Feb. 24. It just might save your pet's life. This is a four-hour course "designed to teach individuals the lifesaving skills necessary to provide immediate, temporary care to sick or injured animals. Attendees will also learn how to treat sudden illnesses including poisoning, seizures and severe bleeding." The cost is $35 per person, which includes the American Red Cross Pet First Aid textbook. The class will be held at Payson Parks offices and pre-registration is necessary. Contact Holly at the Payson Parks office, (928) 474-5242, or stop by the office at 1000 W. Country Club Drive in Payson. Space is limited so get signed up soon.
Payson Parks is also planning a program leading to better health for us and our pooches. On Saturday, March 31, there will be a Walk A Hound, Lose A Pound 5K. This 3.1 mile walk will begin near the dog park in Rumsey Park at 10 a.m. Pre-register for $25, which includes an event T-shirt for people and dogs.
Day of event registration is $35, but availability and t-shirts are not guaranteed. If you do not have a dog, loaner walking partners will be available through the Payson Humane Society.
In order to prepare for this walking event, there is a walking club now in training through Payson Parks. The group meets each Tuesday and Thursday at noon until the end of March. This is not just for dog owners, but nicely behaved dogs are welcome. Dogs should be on a 4 to 6 foot walking leash. Bring clean up bags. The program is already in progress, but you can join any time. Call the Parks office for information at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 or visit www.paysonparks.com.