We can find many different recommendations on what diets to feed your dog, our “best friends”. We want to do the right thing and keep our pets healthy. But how can you be sure what to do?
There are so many commercial dog foods on the market today finding the right one is a difficult decision. Advertisers spend millions of dollars on their products to convince the public that their product is the best, healthiest, tastiest food you can buy for your “best friend”.
But just because they spend all this money and have “cutesy” commercials it doesn’t necessarily mean their product is the best or healthiest for your pooch. Remember, your dog is color blind so all the artificial dies that aren’t good for animals anyway mean nothing to the dog. They are for you. We are visual animals by nature. Our dogs aren’t. All those nifty little shapes they press the food into, well that’s for us too, the purchaser, not the animal consuming the product.
Dogs really don’t care if they are eating something that looks like a little dog bone or triangle versus a square. Now this isn’t saying that all manufactures that spend so much on ads are bad. It’s just saying that their not “all” good. Most times a good indicator is the price of the product. Normally (but not always) a low priced food is also low in quality. Your pet will suffer without the nutrients needed.
A good tip, try to make sure the adult dog food you are feeding is 22-25% protein and 15-19% fat. Large breed dogs, active dogs and puppies will require a different protein and fat value. Talk this over with your veterinarian to make sure.Making an informed decision.In order for you to make an informed decision on nutrition for your dog, you must know which ingredients are better than others. When you look at a food label, the following are the kinds of ingredients that you are looking for:
- Human Grade Ingredients
- Chicken meal, Turkey meal
- Fish meal
- Lamb meal
- Sunflower Oil
- Vegetables and others
A good dog foods first four ingredients should not be grains, but should consist of things like meat and proteins. That is good nutrition.
You also want to make sure it says chicken meal and not chicken as the primary ingredient. If it says chicken only, this means that the manufacturers are counting the entire chicken toward protein value. This includes beaks, feathers, and feet. Not good nutrition. With chicken meal, they are only counting the cooked down version of the protein. This will ensure that your dog is getting the appropriate kind of protein and not byproducts. Vitamins and fatty acids are also good ingredients in dog foods.
Some examples include Vitamin E, Omega 3 and 6, etc. These are very important for a healthy looking skin and coat. Make sure the dog food is not laden with preservatives. All this makes for good nutrition for your dog.
Some of the ingredients that you don’t want to see on your dog food label include: Inferior protein which consists of but not limited to variations of the following:
- Chicken by-products
These ingredients are hard to digest and can cause health problems later on if used for a long period of time. Sugar is another ingredient that you want to stay away from.
You are always better off purchasing food from a company that spends time and money field testing their products. You can always be sure that companies such as Purina, the Iams Company (which also includes Eukanuba), Royal Canine, Nutro, Diamond, and Hill’s Science Diet are constantly testing their foods to provide the optimum quality ingredients.These companies offer different grades of food, however, from lower quality to premium quality so make sure that you always read the labels.
These are not the only companies by any means who make good quality dog food. The important thing is to read the label, do your research, ask questions of your veterinarians and pet professionals and always be informed. People who work at feed stores are usually a good resource and can help you find good quality pet food.
The Facts On Pet Food
Breeders can also be a good source for finding a quality food for your dog. Dog trainers will also often have a good knowledge of proper nutrition.You should always follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on food as well. Many times dogs of certain ages or with certain health conditions need to be on a prescription diet. While these diets are often expensive, they do contain the proper nutrients that dogs in these categories need. Many times owners will switch to a commercial food because of cost or palatability concerns and the dog’s health will go in to a decline.
Your veterinary staff know what is best for your particular dog.While it is often confusing, proper dog nutrition is vital to the health and longevity of your dog. By knowing what consists of good quality ingredients and which ingredients to avoid, you can be assured that you will choose the proper food for your dog. As always, if you have questions, ask your veterinary staff for more information.
Be Aware of These Unfavorable Ingredients
- By-products … after the choice cuts of meat are used for human consumption, the remains such as bones, intestines, heads, feet, tendons, ligaments and other unsavory body parts are known as by-products. By-products are generally inferior sources of protein and can be difficult to digest, which means less nutrition and more cleanup.
- Grains … soy, corn, corn gluten and wheat gluten are often used as protein sources; however, they are generally inferior and difficult to digest.
- Chemical Preservatives & Artificial Colors … BHA, BHT and ethoxoquin can be very harmful to pets. Artificial colors are also linked to health problems.
- Freshness … many large manufacturers make pet food in tremendous batches that can last for a very long time, so you may be feeding food that is six months to a year old.
Homemade Dog Diets
Different homemade diets are recommended by various experts, from “natural” diets consisting primarily of raw meat, to vegetarian diets consisting only of nutritionally balanced vegetarian ingredients, to mixtures consisting of ingredients such as brown rice, brown pasta, meats, eggs, and vegetables.A problem with homemade diets, frequently articulated by veterinarians, is the difficulty to consistently provide the dog with a complete and balanced diet. This “technique-sensitivity” will be a challenging part of providing a truly superior diet to the higher quality brands readily available by retail in most urban and suburban areas.
Most dogs willingly eat vegetables, particularly if they are cooked, and many kinds of fruit, although chocolate, coffee, onions, Macadamia nuts, and bread dough can be poisonous in dogs. Grapes and raisins are also toxic to dogs. Avocados have in two cases been associated with heart failure in dogs.More information on feeding your dog.