Finding the best food for your dog
We all love our dogs and want to give them the best that life has to offer. But with so many variations of dog food in the market, it isn’t always easy to identify the best food for our dog. Who can possibly feel confident when so many brands trumpet buzzwords that hit the human aisles not long ago, such as “rich in antioxidants,” “highly digestible,” “Omega-3 fatty acids” and “Ultra Premium Formula”?
What we can do though, is to conduct a simple dog food comparison to determine which foods best fit our dog’s requirements and our personal schedule. After all, some foods offer much greater convenience than the more natural, less processed types of food which may require freezing, thawing, cooking and preparation.
Convenience aside, the best food to give your dog depends not on the brand or the style, but rather on your dog’s age and any special requirements he or she might have. For example, older dogs require food containing a careful balance of protein, fat and fibre. Most commercial dog food companies address this need with offerings such as senior dog food, containing about 18% protein, and food for dogs diagnosed with renal failure, containing about 14% protein.
Dry Dog Food?
The vast majority of dog owners go for dry dog food. Between the supermarket and specialty pet stores, owners enjoy many brands to choose from. Dry dog food consists of kibble typically made from one primary ingredient such as chicken, beef or lamb. More specifically, the main ingredient is usually a meat by product that’s been processed, dried and sold in packs or bags for easy dispensing. Needless to say, meat by products are far cheaper than meat, so this type of dog food is not only easy to store, it’s much less expensive than other types.
Hard kibble comes with some advantages. For example, it gives your dog’s mouth some exercise, and kibble’s less likely to contribute to plaque than softer foods.
When comparing brands, it helps to remember that there are essentially two types of dry dog food on the market; premium dog food and economy dog food. A smart owner will avoid purchasing the economy food, which is made from lower grade ingredients (for example, economy dog food will often substitute cheap corn for the more expensive meat by products). The “end” result, as it were, is that your dog can’t absorb many nutrients but simply passes the food through his body. So in addition to enjoying less nutrition, your dog will produce larger stools and you might find yourself with more frequent vet bills.
Other Popular Contenders - Canned and semi-wet
Other categories of dog food include the semi-wet type and canned food. Many owners like to mix in some canned food with dry food, to potentially cover more nutritional bases without taking too big a hit to the pocket.
Semi-wet food is attractively convenient to owners, and dogs love it. Unfortunately, it may cause dental problems in the mid-term and worse in the long term, because semi wet food is loaded with corn syrup and other sugars, which dogs just aren’t designed to process.
Recently, more natural, “premium” dog food has been introduced to the market, in which higher quantities of quality, nutritious ingredients are used to manufacture the food often human-grade, in fact. Since vegetables, fruits, real meat and quality grains are used as the primary protein source in the highest-quality dog foods, these foods are a fast route to healthy skin and beautiful fur. For the most part, they contain no artificial colouring and preservatives, but are chock-full of vitamins and minerals instead.
Although this food costs more, you can feed your dog less of it, because it’s more nutritionally dense. So in terms of both convenience and nutrition, a premium, natural dog food is one of the best choices available to your dog, whether off-the-shelf or purchased online.
How to choose the right food
When choosing the type of dog food to feed your dog, you need to consider their age, breed, your dog’s activity level and also their health condition. For instance, puppies and older dogs will have different types of nutritional needs and you need to ensure your dog or puppy has sufficient consumption of these nutrition for a long and healthy life. It is best if you seek advice from your vet before deciding on which dog food to feed your dog or puppy.
Not all dog food brands use high quality natural ingredients. Ensure to read the label of ingredients listed before purchasing any brands of dog food. Here are some guidelines to help you to have some ideas of what the label actually tells you:
No Preservatives, Artificial Colours and flavours - Generally, natural dog food contains no preservatives, artificial colours and flavours. Consumption of these components may be harmful to your dog’s health if taken in a long run. Avoid those that labelled “chemical additives as a source of flavour”.
Colour - Lookout for the colour of the dog food, generally dog food made from natural ingredients is in soft earth tones. Existence of other colours may contain some source of additives.
Type of Meat - Avoid brands that labelled “ingredients include meat by-product”. Choose one that made from natural meat such as chicken, lamb or liver.
Raw Dog Food - According to a lot of vets, feeding your dog with raw dog food is the healthiest and the best. Raw dog food contains all natural and unprocessed ingredients. A healthy raw dog food meal usually contains 40% meat, 30% fibre and 30% starch. Therefor, when preparing a meal for your dog, be sure to include some source of vegetables and starch in addition to the uncooked meat such as liver, beef, lamb and etc. Types of vegetables like broccoli, carrots and yams are all good sources of fibres and starches for your dog.
Your dog needs the essential nutrients to grow, go, and glow. If your dog does not receive proper nutrients it may result in poor health, stunted growth, lethargy and shortened lifespan.
Dogs like most animal life forms need the six basic nutrients for survival: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients serve different functions in sustaining the health and well-being of your dog. This guide will elaborate on dogs’ need of these nutrients.
1. Proteins: The building blocks of your dog’s health
Proteins are chemicals made of amino acids. Your dog can produce some of these chemicals in their own bodies. The rest has to be supplied through food. The best sources of these amino acids are meat and its by products. Dogs can extract proteins from these sources a lot easier than it would with plant sources.
Choose feeds that have an adequate amount of protein in them to help your puppies and working dogs grow. Too much of this, however, may cause kidney problems and has been known to cause temperament problems.
2. Fats: Delivering other nutrients to the body
Fat sounds like a bad word – everyone tries to avoid it because it causes tons of health problems. Dogs, however, just like man, also have a need for these nutrients – albeit in a moderate amount. The right amount of fat is needed to promote good skin health, and to transport fat soluble vitamins. Fats are also essential to kidney function and reproductive health.
They make food tastier too. Too much fat will result in obesity and lethargy.
- Carbohydrates: doggy fuel
Fifty percent of your dog’s diet should consist of carbohydrates since they need it for their energy. Corn is one of the more popular sources of this nutrient, along with soybeans. If this source is clean and of good nutritional quality then that should be fine as well.
- Vitamins and Minerals: keeping your dog healthy
It would have been easier if your dog only had to splurge on vitamins and minerals to get optimal health. However, the opposite is true. Your dog needs an exact amount of vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Although, your dog may receive these nutrients from food, vitamin supplements for your dogs could be helpful. Specially formulated commercial feeds also make it easier for dog owners to give their dogs good nutrition.
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