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10 Health Problems Caused by Using The Wrong Dog Food

| Published on January 1, 2024

Reviewed by: Dr. Theresa Fossum

Reviewed by:

Dr. Theresa Fossum

Meet Dr. Theresa (Terry) W. Fossum, DVM, MS. Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS – a remarkable animal lover whose passion for animal care and innovative solutions has left an indelible mark on the veterinary world. As the CEO of both Phoenix Animal Wellness and Epic Veterinary Specialists, she's ensuring dogs and cats receive the highest level of care and compassion.Read more
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Feeding your pet the right food is not just a matter of preference or taste, it’s a vital component of their overall health. Dogs, like humans, require a balanced diet full of nutrients to maintain a happy, healthy life. Unfortunately, many dog parents unknowingly feed their furry friends food that is unsuitable for them, leading to a variety of health problems. 

So, we’ve compiled a list of nine health problems that can arise if your dog is not eating a proper diet. You can avoid many of these issues by feeding your dog high-quality, balanced food, like Ollie’s fresh food.

1. Allergic Skin Reactions

Feeding your dog the wrong food, especially if they have allergies, can lead to skin reactions. Common allergens in dogs include certain proteins derived from beef, dairy, wheat, soy, chicken, or corn. When a dog with a food allergy or sensitivity consumes these allergens, the immune system overreacts, often resulting in skin inflammation. This inflammation can cause a range of symptoms, including itchiness, redness, sores, and secondary infections due to scratching. Additionally, chronic food allergies can lead to recurring skin problems such as hot spots or interdigital cysts, as well as poor coat condition.

If you suspect your dog has allergies, consult your vet to better understand what they are. Another reason your dog could be itching is because storage mites have accumulated in their kibble. Store your dog’s kibble in an airtight container in a dry, cool place to avoid this.

Puppy itching outside

2. Diabetes Mellitus

Some foods could contribute to the development of diabetes mellitus, a disease characterized by the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar levels. Diets that are high in fat and simple carbohydrates, particularly sugars, can lead to obesity, a primary risk factor for diabetes in dogs. Also, such diets can cause insulin resistance, where the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.

To prevent this, it’s crucial to feed dogs a balanced, nutritious diet that’s appropriate for their breed, age, and size. Always consult a veterinarian for diet advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

3. Nutritional Imbalances

Certain diets can lead to nutritional imbalances, where your dog is either receiving too much or too little of certain nutrients. For example, a diet too high in calcium can lead to skeletal problems in large breed puppies, whereas a diet that’s consistently too low in protein can result in a poor coat, weight loss, and muscle wasting.

Homemade diets or freshly prepared food that are not adequately balanced by a veterinarian or someone with expertise in veterinary nutrition can lead to deficiencies over time. So, make sure you’re always serving food that’s nutritionally balanced to fit your dog’s age, weight, and activity level. Ollie is a great example of a fresh food brand that’s perfectly balanced for your pup.

Skinny dog eating kibble

4. Malnutrition

Feeding foods that lack essential nutrients may lead to severe protein deficiencies or malnutrition. Some examples are foods low in protein or essential fatty acids (i.e., a vegetarian or vegan diet). In severe cases, malnutrition can lead to significant health issues such as organ failure or even death. Thus, it’s crucial to choose a dog food that’s well-balanced and suited to your dog’s age, breed, and health status to prevent malnutrition.

5. Obesity and Pancreatitis

Feeding foods that are excessive in calories from fat can lead to obesity or a painful condition called pancreatitis in predisposed animals. High-calorie dog foods are often the ones with lots of fats and carbohydrates that are low in nutritional value. Those “empty” calories contribute to weight gain without providing any significant benefits.

Also, serving sizes that are too large for your dog’s size, breed, and activity level can contribute to obesity. Obesity in dogs can lead to several other health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems.

6. Urinary Crystals or Stones

An improper diet can contribute to the development of bladder stones in dogs. These stones, also known as uroliths, are formed by the buildup of certain minerals in the urinary tract. Diets that are too high in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium can increase the concentration of these minerals in the urine, promoting stone formation. Additionally, a diet that results in overly acidic or overly alkaline urine can also promote the growth of certain types of stones.

7. Gastroenteritis

Several dog food brands have been recalled due to bacterial contamination. E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Clostridium are all bacteria that can lead to vomiting or bloody diarrhea, and in severe cases, hospitalization or death. The transfer of Salmonella and E. coli to humans (from the dog) is also a concern.

To prevent severe digestive problems from occurring, keep an eye out for dog food recalls. That way, you can safely avoid any recalled products before your dog ingests them.

Related: Top 13 Dog Food Brands With No Recalls

Old German Shepherd with kibble

8. Immunosuppression

The wrong dog food could lead to immunosuppression, a condition where the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and diseases is compromised. Essential nutrients, including certain proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, are needed to maintain the immune system’s health and functionality.

A diet lacking crucial nutrients can result in a weakened immune system, making your dog more susceptible to various infections and illnesses. In particular, deficiencies in nutrients like protein, vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, and selenium have been associated with impaired immune responses in dogs.

9. Excessive Calcium and Vitamin D

Too much of certain ingredients can do more harm than good. For example, high levels of calcium in the diet can interfere with bone development, particularly in large-breed puppies, leading to skeletal deformities and growth issues. Excessive Vitamin D, on the other hand, can cause a condition called hypervitaminosis D, leading to bone loss and kidney failure due to increased calcium levels in the bloodstream. Other symptoms may include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst and urination, and weight loss.

Petting sad sick dog

10.  Dental Problems

Low-quality dog food often uses carbohydrate-rich fillers, such as corn and wheat, to cut costs. These fillers can leave residues on a dog’s teeth after consumption. Over time, these residues can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which, when left unchecked, produce acids. These acids can wear away at a dog’s tooth enamel, leading to dental issues such as cavities and decay, mirroring the effects of sugary foods on human teeth.

Additionally, the consistency of low-cost dog foods, especially those that are soft or semi-moist, can further contribute to dental problems. Unlike the abrasive action of dry kibble, which can help scrape away some of the plaque, softer foods tend to stick to teeth and gums. This adhesion encourages plaque buildup, which, if not addressed, can harden into tartar. Tartar accumulation irritates the gums and can eventually lead to periodontal disease, posing not just oral health risks but potential systemic health concerns as well.

Choosing the Safest Dog Food

When it comes to keeping your dog healthy, choosing balanced, nutritious dog food is essential. Many brands may have too much or too little of certain nutrients, causing complications for your pup. When in doubt, ask your vet about what diets might work best for your dog’s specific needs.

Ollie is a fresh dog food company that’s great for avoiding health complications. Their meals are prepared with high-quality, human-grade ingredients, including real, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and superfoods. By prioritizing whole foods and excluding fillers, artificial flavors, and preservatives, Ollie helps prevent health issues such as obesity, allergies, digestive problems, and nutrient deficiencies. Plus, each Ollie meal plan is personalized for your specific dog, so you can feel comfortable knowing they’re getting the nutrients needed for their size, age, and medical history.

Interested in trying Ollie? You can get 60% off your first box with the code IHDOGS60!

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