All you have to do these days is walk down the pet food aisle at your local grocery store. In it you will find several different types of dog food with all of them claiming to be the best for your pet. They all fall under three basic categories – budget, moderate and high-end dog foods. What set them apart, aside from cost, are the ingredients of each. For a good quality dog food, you need one that contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients your dog requires to stay healthy and strong.
This may take some additional research from reading labels to visiting manufacturer’s websites and discussing options with breeders, pet store owners and veterinarians. However, once you find the right food for your pet, it will be worth the extra effort. Here’s a look at some of the considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right dog food for your best friend.
Dog Food Myths
It is confusing with sources on the internet claiming one thing is bad for your dog to eat and others claiming that the same items are safe. But, there are some dog food myths that have stood the test of time.They include that garlic is toxic for dogs (it is, but small amounts are fine) and that feeding raw meat with make your pet bloodthirsty (it doesn’t).
However, if your dog has certain allergies or food sensitivities, you may want to avoid feeding some foods. Your best source of information that will be specific to your pet is your veterinarian. Your vet will advise you what foods should not be fed to your dog based on its health and wellbeing.
Because puppies have different nutritional needs that adult and senior dogs, food choices are crucial. You can feed a puppy homemade, raw or a commercially-produced diet. You have to understand what the foods contain and how they may affect your growing pet. For example, a young puppy of eight weeks old will require twice as many calories per day than an adult dog. Plus, puppies require higher amounts of protein, calcium, fat and phosphorus in their diets.
The balance of nutrient content has to be correct as too much or too little of one or more can impact the growing needs of your growing puppy. This is why puppy food is in a category of its own in the pet food aisles and manufactured as a different kind of food to other dog foods.
Homemade Dog Food
Where homemade dog food excels in comparison to commercially produced dog food is what it contains. Even the high end, more expensive brands can’t match the content of homemade. That’s because, if you truly understand the nutrient content required for your dog – puppy, adult or senior – you will be able to mix the very best combination of what your dog requires daily in its diet. Plus, you will be able to do it far cheaper than what you’ll pay for a quality dog food product.
In addition, you will be able to monitor and eliminate the unnecessary fillers that most dog foods contain. There are different food requirements for different breeds of dogs as well. Regardless, with a well-balanced human food for dogs your pet will be healthy and strong.
Dogs Who Have Health Issues
As stated above, just like puppies, adults and senior dogs all have different nutrient requirements for their food, the same principle applies to pets with special needs. Here is a look at some of the most common issues that dogs develop and the kinds of foods they can still enjoy and maintain good health with as a result.
For Dogs Who Have Stomach Problems
There is no such thing as a sensitive stomach dog food that will work with every dog that has this issue. However, if you do a little homework to narrow down what is causing the sensitive stomach problem, you will be able to find a suitable dog food. There are a number of signs that your dog will exhibit to alert you to the fact that it has stomach issues. The signs are many and include the following:
- Itchy ears/skin and skin rashes
- Loss of energy/appetite
- Flatulence/noisy stomach
- Aggressive behavior (in rare instances)
By eliminating certain food products from your dog’s diet you will eventually be able to identify the cause of the problem. Sometimes the triggers are related to allergies to different foods. Once you narrow down the possibilities, remove these items from your dog’s diet and you should see a happier and healthier pet in no time.
For Dogs With Allergies
Speaking of allergies…dogs are not immune to them. In fact, if your dog has a hypersensitivity to a particular type of food, it is another way of saying your pooch has an allergy. Just like humans, there are various things that can trigger an allergic reaction. In dogs, the symptoms are the same as those used to identify a sensitive stomach.
The food allergies found in dogs are typically centered on animal or plant-based proteins found in their diet. In the animal protein category, chicken, beef and dairy are the common causes. As for plant-based proteins, the normal culprit is wheat.
However, there are options available in the form of hypoallergenic dog food. These are used to assist with diagnosing food allergies in your pet and then by using a process of elimination after slowing introducing different proteins mixed with the hypoallergenic dog food, you should be able to isolate the actual trigger.
Your veterinarian can be a great source of information related to treating the allergy, which will likely result in an alteration of your dog’s diet with the protein causing the allergy removed from all meals.
For Dogs Who Have Diabetes
The tricky thing about most conditions found in dogs is proper diagnosis. Diabetes is one such example. However, there are several symptoms where many point to no other possibility but diabetes. The entire list of symptoms includes the following:
- Excessive hunger/thirst
- Frequent urination/urinary tract infections
- Weight loss
- Chronic skin conditions
- Sweet-smelling breath
- Between the ages of 7 and 10
- Genetics/pre-existing conditions
- Breed (mixed breeds have a higher risk of developing diabetes)
Although diabetes cannot be cured, there are ways to monitor and manage the disease. In addition to insulin and exercise, diet is a huge factor. There are diabetic dog food options available. In fact, a positive change in blood sugar levels in your dog can come from the food they eat.
By working closely with your veterinarian, you should be able to find a balance between diet and exercise that will keep your pet happy and healthy while still a diabetic. These changes may see a shift into high fiber dog food or high protein dog food. Again, it is better to work with your vet for best results.
High Fiber Dog Food
One of the most essential and often overlooked nutrients in dog food is fiber. It comes from just plant-based sources but a well-balanced diet should include fiber in a healthy dog food. nevertheless, the quality of the fiber has a great deal to do with how effective it is in keeping your pet strong and healthy.
There are actually two different types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber creates gasses and insoluble fiber absorbs water as it passes through the digestive tract. So, it is fair to say that fiber in both forms is good for digestive health. Plus, if your dog happens to be overweight, a high fiber dry dog food will assist with weight management.
Essentially, foods high in fiber make your dog feel full which reduces overeating. A high fiber diet is good for the overall health of your four-legged friend.
For Senior Dogs
Just like puppies require a different type of food than adult dogs to meet their growing needs, senior dogs are at the opposite end of the scale. As they are far less active that adult dogs, their diet has to reflect the reduction in activity. This typically means a food that has fewer calories.
The trick is not so much what kind of food to feed your senior dog but, when does your dog become a senior. This mostly depends on the breed and health of your dog. Small breeds mature quicker but then age slower after reaching maturity. Regardless of the breed, veterinarians generally consider a dog 7 years old and older as a senior and will promote the use of a senior dog food.
As older dogs have a slower metabolism, their diet must change. This typically means a higher fiber food with adequate amounts of fat and protein. But, if your dog has been strong and healthy for the duration of its adult life and has no medical problems and is still active and at a healthy weight, it can still eat adult food well into its senior years.
Low Protein Dog Food – Pros and Cons
Too much protein is not good for your dog if he or she suffers from some kind of chronic disease or condition. Low protein dog food diets can work to reduce the symptoms and reduce pain which improves the overall health of your trusty companion.
High Protein Dog Food – Pros and Cons
Protein is essential in a dog’s diet as it assists in the building of muscle, bone and body mass. Protein gives your pet the ability to heal wounds and maintain good health.
Dry Dog Food or Wet Dog Food?
As it turns out, feeding your pet dehydrated dog food or wet dog food can depend on several variables. Both can provide your best friend with a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, nutrients and all the other important elements that will keep his or her tail wagging. However, there are factors related to the difference between dry and wet dog food that have little to do with your actual pet. Here are some examples:
Dry dog food is less messy than wet which makes for easier clean up. It is also easy to serve, store and transport. Dry dog food typically costs less, won’t spoil soon after serving and comes in all kinds of flavors that your dog will enjoy. Wet dog food, on the other hand, has less carbs than dry, has ingredients that are not as processed as those in dry dog food and, with air-tight packaging, shelf life is extended after opening.
But what does your dog prefer?
Well, you may find that your pet will prefer one over the other. If that is the case, then there is no problem to solve and no dilemma. However, if your dog is as finicky as the neighbor’s cat, you may have a slightly different situation on your hands.
Also, the overall health of your dog will come into play here. For example, if your pet has been eating a steady diet of dry dog food and due to some kind of health condition suddenly does not enjoy dry food, then you at least have an option to feed wet dog food.
The nutritional content between them is minor, so a switch may be what your dog needs. Plus, there is nothing wrong with feeding one meal a day of wet and one of dry or actually mixing both in the same bowl at mealtime. You will just have to pay attention to what your dog is telling you at mealtime. That should guide you as to the correct choice.
Organic Or Natural Dog Food?
Organic dog food and natural dog food are – pardon the pun – two very different animals. The heaviest regulated of the two would be organic. In fact, organic dog food has to contain plant ingredients that were not grown with pesticides, chemicals, genetic modification or other man-made alterations or fertilizers. The animal ingredients have to come from animals raised on organic feed and allowed to grow naturally without the assistance of hormones or antibiotics.
Natural dog food comes from plant, animal or mined sources that have been processed. Well, that’s the condensed definition. As both contain the required nutritional values that will help your puppy grow to be strong and healthy throughout his or her adult life and into their senior years, there is just one deciding factor.
Well, that is, aside from cost. Organic – and we mean properly certified organic – dog food is going to cost more than natural dog food. In some cases, there will be quite a difference in price between the two.
So, if you are on a tight budget, this may have a bearing on the choice. However, the right selection will still come down to what type of dog food your pet prefers to eat. Trust us, they have no idea what the costs are nor do they have any understanding about proteins, carbs, vitamins and nutrients. Your four-legged friend trusts you to make the right choice.
Naturally (again,no pun intended), if your dog prefers one over the other, then you have an answer. but, in order to get to that place, you must try feeding organic and natural over a period of time to see if there is an actual preference. It is not likely that your veterinarian is going to recommend one or the other, either.
We all want our fur babies to live as long as possible. However, the reality is that we as humans will outlive them regardless. But, for the years we get to share with our special four-legged friends we want them to stay strong and healthy as long as they are with us. The best way to ensure this is with a well-balanced diet. Dog foods with proper nutritional content are essential in this equation. But the choices are many and the variables are as plentiful. Cost, quality and taste all have an impact on our choice.
The bottom line is that if you can find an affordable dog food that provides all the daily requirements for your pet, and your pet will eat it without having to be encouraged to do so, then you have found the correct food for your dog. Hopefully this guide has given you addition assistance and understanding of what to look for when choosing a good dog food for your pet