In our new blog series on nutrition, Carole Sandhu, Dog Nutritionist, will give us some incredibly valuable insight into how food effects our schnauzers. Her first post is all about the healing power of protein.
We certainly have a huge choice of dog food on the market to help us provide a diet that is complete and balanced for our dogs. By choosing one with the right protein source we can provide a number of additional benefits for our sensitive breed.
We know that sensitivities in our Schnauzers can range from mild symptoms like an upset tummy and itchy skin through to inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis and severe skin allergies. It is important to remember that these issues are not because we have done anything wrong with what we have fed our dogs. It is simply that as a breed Schnauzers may be at increased risk of developing allergies and inflammatory conditions and indeed a possible mode of inheritance has been identified for pancreatitis in Miniature Schnauzers.
Help is at hand though! In combination with necessary medications, we can provide a diet that may help soothe and heal existing issues as well as preventing future ones. To explore this further, let’s take a look at the science first.
During normal digestion, the body breaks down proteins into their smaller parts (amino acids) and these are absorbed across the wall of the intestine and delivered to the body via the blood. The body can then use them for all the good things they do like supporting growth and repair. If the gut is inflamed, as can be the case in some sensitive dogs, whole proteins can find their way across the wall of the small intestine and can arrive whole into the large intestine too. This is a big problem. These whole proteins can trigger an immune response (an allergic reaction). In other words, the dog can become sensitised to the type of proteins that have managed to seep through. This may have been chicken, beef etc. You may find that your dog reacts to certain foods with a skin flare up or loose stool. This shows us that the body is seeing them as an invader and has launched an immune response.
If we have a sensitive dog we can try to prevent the body becoming sensitised to certain meats in three key ways.
Single Source Of Protein
The first thing we can do is opt for a food that only has one type of meat or fish. This is known as a ‘single source protein’. Many dog foods contain two or three types of meat. If they contain ‘meat meal’ that is even worse because we really don’t have any idea of the types of meat present in the food. By choosing a food with a single source of protein there is less chance of the body having a reaction to it. Dog foods with one protein are formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced or you can make your own but ensure you combine the single source of protein with a single type of carbohydrate. Potatoes or rice are good options.
Secondly, we can try a dog food that contains a meat or fish that your dog has not been exposed to before. These are called ‘novel proteins’ and include fish, turkey, venison, duck etc. Again there is less chance of the dog reacting because they have not previously been sensitised to them.
Highly Digestible Protein
Thirdly, the protein we choose should be highly digestible. Dogs require ten essential amino acids. They are called essential because dogs cannot make them so they need them from their diet. If a protein contains all of the essential amino acids it is termed a high quality protein and is well digested. This means there is less chance of whole proteins getting across the wall of the intestine and so less chance of an allergic reaction. Look for foods that contain human grade meats.
What about including treats to keep life interesting? Well, this is the time when it may be worth having a go at making your own because many shop-bought treats contain a whole cocktail of ingredients. If you make your own with one type of meat or fish and one type of carbohydrate like gluten free flour or potato they will be much better tolerated. In addition, food dehydrators can be purchased online for around £35. They are a great way of making a treat for your dog, simply slice the meat of your choice very thinly. Place in the dehydrator for 8-12 hours and you have a treat made from a single source of protein. Perfect!
All in all, a few things to think about when choosing the right dog food for your Schnauzer.
Carole Sandhu – Bio
Founder of the Dog Dietitian, Carole is passionate about dogs and providing high quality, evidence based information on all aspects of nutrition for them. She has over 25 years of experience in Nutrition and holds an Honours Degree in Nutrition, a Master’s Degree in Sport Science and a Certificate in Companion Animal Nutrition (COAPE). She writes the feature article on nutrition for Edition Dog Magazine and works with pet professionals, pet food companies and pet parents. Carole runs two help and advice groups on Facebook: Special Diets for Dogs and Performance Nutrition for Sporting Dogs.
Visit the Dog Dietitian Facebook page and like to receive regular topical updates on all aspects of dog nutrition.