Pets are subject to diseases like diabetes, cancer and obesity, much like their human counterparts. Since they don’t get to pick what they eat, it’s your job as a pet owner to make sure they are eating well and staying healthy so you can avoid serious illnesses all together.
What’s in it?
Of course ingredients matter when choosing dog food and the quality of the particular ingredients in any dog food matters even more. A high-quality protein should be the first ingredient on any dog food. Avoid food that lists corn, grain or other fillers as the first ingredient. Dogs require a diet high in protein and their digestive tracts often can’t handle large amounts of grain and corn. In the wild, dogs eat raw meat, not corn, so keep that in mind when selecting a food. In addition, any “by-product meals” like chicken by-product meal are basically ground up scraps and bones, much like the human equivalent of a hot dog. Meal products should be avoided, or at least kept to a minimum. A version of whole protein, like salmon or turkey breast is ideal.
The first 10 ingredients generally make up 80-percent of the food. Those 10 ingredients should hit on the majority of your dog’s needs for protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Ingredients listed toward the end are often present in very small quantities. Whole grains, like rice or barley, are much better for your dog and more easily digested than products like corn, gluten and processed grain products. Preservatives and addivitves should be avoided, as they can cause allergies and other health problems. Plus, they offer no nutritional benefits.
Wet vs. dry
There is often debate over which version is better with arguments on both sides contributing to the pros and cons of each. Wet food is often less processed and contains fewer preservatives because the canning method itself serves as a preserving method. In addition, it contains more moisture, which helps to hydrate your dog and is thought to be easier on the kidneys. However, wet food is generally more costly than dry food.
Raw dog food diets are a big trend as of late. Essentially, they involve owners preparing meals for their pets with human-grade food, just like they would do for any member of the family. Some companies now offer freeze-dried food packs that include high-quality products, like beef hearts and liver, that are fed to the dog in the raw state. Preparing your dog's food at home can be costly and time consuming. Ensuring your dog is getting all the nutrients they need can also be tricky unless the diet you are feeding them is varied significantly each day.
Most dog food bags contain a recommended serving size, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is how much your dog should eat. Serving sizes are based on averages and may not apply to your dog, depending on their activity level, other treats they get, or just their metabolism in general. If your dog is particularly active, he may require more food, but if your dog gets little to no activity, he should probably eat less than the standard serving size.
Switch things up
Switching your dog’s food every few months can help ensure that any deficiencies in one food are met by another food. You can switch between wet and dry food, between wet food brands or dry food brands, or even feed a little of each every day. Just remember that dogs can have sensitivities when you switch foods, so monitor them closely and consider mixing a little new food with old food, gradually working up to a complete switch to make the transition easier. You can also consider supplementing your dog’s foods with vitamins, flax seed oil, nutrient-dense treats or raw food from your own kitchen.
For more information on the dog food you buy or to look for other high-quality dog food brands, visit DogFoodAdvisor.com. They provide ingredients, reviews and other information to help you determine the best food for you and your dog’s needs.
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