Have a new four-legged addition to your family? Wondering just what type of food will be best to ensure your dog gets the proper nutrients he needs to keep him healthy and strong? You’d think it’d be easy to choose dog food. But, these days there are many options, from organic, to grain free, fresh frozen, to fiber-rich kibbles. Selecting the best option for you dog that is not only healthy and appealing to your pet but affordable for your budget can be a daunting task. No need to fret, we’ve read through the research from veterinarians, dog trainers and dog lovers to help simplify your decision.
Dry or canned dog food which is better?
The most common question from new dog owners is, “Do I feed my dog dry or canned food?” To answer that question we need to understand exactly what’s in each of these products. You may have noticed that your dog is not a strict carnivore. How many times has he stared at you with those big dark eyes hoping you’ll share whatever it is you’re eating. Nope, definitely not just a carnivore. While meat does make up the majority of their diet, dogs also get nutrients from grains, fruits and vegetables. These non-meat foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A nutritious dog food contains all four ingredients; meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits.
The nutritional needs of your dog will vary over his lifetime. Just as a baby has different nutrient needs than that of a teenager and adult, a puppy’s requirements will be far different than those of a mature dog.
Foods you should not feed your dog
But just as important to knowing what to feed your dog is knowing what not to feed your dog. Start by reading the labels. Absolutely avoid anything that lists a generic ingredient such as meat-by-product, or meat meal, if you need the term defined than it’s best to avoid it.
According to an article in rover.com, an independent study by The Reviews.com gathered experts from all areas of dog care: veterinarians, animal behaviorists, dog trainers, researchers, and authors. They reviewed the ingredients of thousands of dog food brands, and surveyed 300 dog owners to understand how most people choose their dog’s food.
According to their research, pet food ingredients are regulated by two sources: the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AAFCO determines which nutrients animal food should contain, while the FDA is concerned with the quality of ingredients.
But beware, your definition of “quality” may be quite different than that of the FDA. The FDA often approves ingredients for pet food that can actually be dangerous. The FDA does not have regulations prohibiting ingredients from “rendering facilities”. A rendering facility handles everything from dead livestock to expired meat. Do you really want to feed your dog expired meat? I won’t.
In addition to knowing what’s in your dog’s food, you’ll want to know what ingredients provide complete nutrition. Both veterinarians and dog trainers state that dogs need a combination of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, and nutrients.
However the rich combination and amount will vary according to your dog’s age and activity level. The wrong combination or too much of a good thing can be harmful to your dog, leading to allergies and digestive issues.
In general the foods or additives you should avoid are those known to be harmful to dogs, such as grapes, onions, corn and other grain “fillers” which offer no nutritional value. Corn is perhaps the most common dog food filler. Yet corn is also the most damaging to dogs simply because they are not able to digest it. In fact, The reviews.com research states that, “Dog food with a high corn content is akin to a fast food value meal: cheap, filling, but nutritionally empty.”
Regardless of all the research, trying to find the ideal food for your dog can still be a struggle. I’ve tried several brands over the years, always a wet food as I believe that is more satisfying for my pet. Yet, my dog has certainly had her share of stomach upsets.
I finally decided to make her a simple meal of boiled chicken and brown rice, which she loves and it’s easy for me. I know what’s in it and it’s simple to make. However, my vet said that there have been studies recently suggesting that a grain free diet is not ideal for dogs as it can lead to heart issues. She told me dogs need more nutrients than my simple chicken and rice recipe provided.
Her recommendation: Just Food for Dogs. She said it’s a fresh food that contains vet-developed nutrient blends, has no fillers or preservatives and is easy for dogs to digest. According to the Just For For Dogs website, justfoodfordogs.com their food is the only fresh pet food which has conducted AAFCO feeding trials. I gave it a try and thankfully, my dog loves it. The company is supported by 14 Veterinarians and has a nutrition team consisting of 5 Staff Veterinarians, 3 Consultants, and 6 Formulators.
What you feed your dog, can have a significant effect on your dog’s health, happiness and agility. Proper nutrition is essential for your dog’s body, mind, muscle tone, coat and immunity. All research seems to show that the best dog-healthy diet is one that consists of fresh, nutritionally balanced whole-food meals.