How to make sure your dog is getting the nutrients they need

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*Sponsored by IAMS

Know your nibbles! How to ensure your pet is getting all the nutrients they need through a complete and balanced diet

As a pet parent to a handsome blue merle border collie named Blue, it’s my sole responsibility to ensure my furry baby is getting all the nutrients he needs to continue being his loving energetic cheeky-self and is healthy inside and out.

However, if your anything like me and worry about under or over feeding your dog then we aren’t alone because a survey by IAMS found that 21% of pet owners do. But it’s in our dog’s DNA to naturally scavenge for food which is why they are always on the hunt, poking their noses into our shopping bags, having a whiff of the kitchen bin or pestering us to share our food. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hungry and your underfeeding them, it’s a common misconception it’s just their natural instincts to use their advanced smelling techniques to search for their own food like they would do if they were wild dogs and not the pampered stretched out napping on the sofa kind.

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The survey also found that 23% of dog owners will feed their pooch the amount they believe their dog will want to eat which can lead to under and over-feeding. To avoid this, it is advised to prepare the right amount of dog food by following the guidelines specified on the pack. For instance, IAMS for Vitality has an easy to follow guide on the packaging to help you prepare the right amount for your dog’s age, weight and activity levels so that your pet will receive the correct amount of food and nutrition daily to keep them fit and healthy.

Once you follow the food guide and now have a little insight into your dog’s natural instincts, you’ll no longer have to worry about under or over feeding them. Just do your best to avoid giving them human-treats as this can easily lead to an overweight dog. This is something we experienced ourselves early last year when the vets told us Blue was overweight because we gave in to his repeated paw taps and his gorgeous brown eyes mesmerising us for human food. As soon as the vets made us aware that a few pieces of human food are four times the equivalent portion size to a dog, that soon stopped us giving in to his demands and he is now back to a healthy size for his breed and age.

To put things into perspective, a 1 oz piece of cheddar cheese to a dog is the equivalent to us humans eating 1.5 burgers in a single sitting and one hot dog to a dog is the equivalent to us eating 2.5 burgers! Even a tiny treat that you would think would do no harm to your dog, such as a small oatmeal cookie is the same as us eating 1 burger. So, the vet’s advice really was an eye-opener and now that we don’t give in to him, he no longer pesters us. So, don’t feel guilty dismissing your furry companion of a human-treat.

Instead, create fun engaging ways to treat your dog so that they can use their natural instincts to search and earn their dog treats. Dog behaviourist Mandy Deveridge recommends scattering food and teaching them food games to keep your dog stimulated, active and happy. Introduce a variety of ways to do this regularly and as time goes on making them more challenging to improve their wellbeing so that it never gets boring and their mind is continually stimulated.

There are so many great stimulating dog toys available in the shops, but you can also make up games, hide food for them to find and create toys at home using simple things around the house. For example, Mandy says, if you take the inner cardboard tube from a toilet roll, put some dog treats in then fold over the ends and put a hole in the middle your furry friend will then be able to roll it around and sniff out the food.

Something Blue absolutely loves is being rewarded for doing tricks, such as giving me a high five, shaking my hand, bringing me the post (which is something he will later destroy if I’ve been lazy and not grabbed his treats to exchange for the mail) and for running, catching and returning the ball.

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Alongside IAMS for Vitality dog food, IAMS Minis are a great healthy low-fat treat to reward your dog for doing a trick or completing a stage in a puzzle game while also providing additional nutrition. IAMS Minis come in a variety of rich tasty flavours such as beef & apple, lamb & cranberry and chicken & carrot and are enriched with beneficial vitamins (A and D3), with no added sugar and are gluten-free so are perfect for sensitive dogs! You’ll also not have to worry about them being calorific as they are low in fat with no added artificial flavours, so they are a great choice for rewarding your furry baby.

Although the treats are healthy, they’re still treats at the end of the day so always be treat-wise and don’t give too many because IAMS for Vitality dog food is all they’ll need. A survey found that 16% of dog owners question whether they’re pet is getting enough nutrients, so by feeding your dog IAMS for Vitality, you won’t have to worry, especially since IAMS have been around for over 70 years so they know how to make high-quality dog food that your furry companion will love. The Vitality range comes in tasty chicken or lamb with no wheat*, fillers, artificial colours, flavours or GMOs and provides complete daily nutrition with 85% of high-quality protein to support the 7 signs of vitality that will boost your pet’s health and ensure they are full of personality!

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If your dog is athletic like my border collie and loves to chase after a ball then the vitamin D, essential minerals and high-quality animal protein found in IAMS for Vitality will help support their strong bones and muscles while the Omega 3 & 6 will improve their coat and skin to ensure they are getting pampered inside as well as out. A blend of antioxidants and vitamin E will help support their immune system and a tailored fibre blend including prebiotics and beet pulp will promote a healthy digestion (you’ll appreciate this when cleaning up poops in the garden!), while the crunchy kibbles packed with minerals will ensure they have healthy strong teeth and prevent tartar build up (if your dog sleeps next to you in bed like Blue does with me, you’ll be grateful of the improved dog breath in the morning!) and key nutrients will help nourish their loving & caring heart.

So, to improve your furry baby’s wellbeing and ensure they're as happy and as healthy as can be I recommend IAMS for Vitality for complete daily nutrition (it gets a tasty paws up from Blue too!) and get thinking of some fun, active and engaging games they can play so that they can unleash their natural instincts and curiosity to search for nutritious vitamin enriched IAMS Minis.

*IAMS for Vitality is produced in a factory that handles wheat.

Disclaimer: Sponsored by IAMS. All photos and words are my own.