For us humans, we have so many food choices to choose from which it makes it pretty easy for us to tell what our favorite food happens to be. From different ethnic varieties to the choice of vegetarian or meat dishes, it makes shopping for the ingredient fairly easy for us. When it comes to feeding our beloved companion, other than their pushing away a bowl or failing to eat a meal, it can be pretty difficult for us to know what our pets like or don’t enjoy. Of course, what we feed them is probably one of the most important decisions we need to make on behalf of our pets.
When choosing the right dog food for our pets, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. Just as with our children, it’s important to not only choose what they enjoy eating, but food that are rich in nutrients. As you look over the aisles of dog food choices at your favorite pet supply store or supermarket, here are some of the things you should consider when picking the right dog food.
Overall, nutrition is as critical for your companion as it is for you. Just as we hope you make smart and healthy food choices for yourself (low in saturated fats, sugar, chemicals and higher in nutritional vitamins and fibers.) The food you feed your pet can directly lead to a healthy, vibrant dog, but it could also lead to medical troubles and possibly diseases. It is probably one of the most important decisions you will make on behalf of your friend.
W e l l B a l a n c ed D i e t
P o o r D i e t
A poor diet leads to an increase in: Cancers, weakened immune system, liver failure, sluggish behavior or hyperactive, putrid gas, diarrhea, dull coat and heavy shedding, epilepsy, vomiting, ear infections, compromised heart and kidneys, stunted growth and weakened bones, bad breath, bowel disease, diabetes, cystitis, cataracts, hypertension, build up in the eyes, arthritis, countless allergies and other sever health problems. over-all miserable dog.
A d v i c e
By far, the easiest and fastest way to decide what to feed your dog is to ask an expert. The breeder you received your puppy from is an excellent source for determining which food is right for your new best friend. If you forgot to ask, your veterinarian should be your next call. Professional pet healthcare providers and reputable breeders keep up-to-date information on pet food and which ones are best for your dog. Be sure to give them an idea of your budget and they should be able to give you a range of suggestions that can get your started on your search for the perfect food.
P r i c e
Unless you’re Donald Trump or Bill Gates, how much we pay for something usually always plays a role in our buying decisions and when it comes to pet food it’s usually the same. As with all of your spending decisions, it’s important to establish a baseline of what you can afford to spend each month to help you start the process of buying dog food and the many options you have before you.
A g e
The nutritional needs of puppies, adult dogs and those in their mature years are all different and as such, dog food manufacturers have done an excellent job formulating brands to meet those needs. It’s important to match the specific brand of dog food to your pet and match it to the age. It’s also important not to feed dog food labeled as “puppy” to an adult because it is typically much higher in protein, fat and other ingredients which work well for growing puppies, but not so great for fully-grown adult dogs.
B r e e d
Your puppy’s breed should be a key part of choosing what food is best to feed them. Many brands of dog food today are specially formulated not only for the age of your companion, but for specific breed and eventual physical size of the dog. Larger breed dogs such as Labradors, German Shepherds, Irish Wolfhounds and Great Danes can be susceptible to bone and joint health problems like hip dysplasia, so having food that is rich in glucosamine and other ingredients rich in calcium may be good for them.
D r y v s W e t F o o d
This topic alone is liable to generate the most fervent and emotional discussion among dog breeders, vets and caregivers. There are many that say one or the other is better for your companion for various reasons. Hard food can help a dog’s tooth care and help with the animals need to chew and nibble, and hard food has less water content. Soft food is excellent for older dogs that have difficulty chewing or the more finicky eaters and it typically uses much less filler than dry food.
R e a d L a b e l s
When looking at dog food brands, the first stop should always be to read the ingredients label. Sometimes it’s difficult to get past the bright colours, the cute pictures of puppies on the label or the flashy marketing messages, but resist those urges and check the boring label first. Ingredients are listed in the order of what is most in the product. Do your best to avoid products where food fillers such as grains like wheat and corn are listed first. While they help make up the content and size of kibble, they don’t really help your pet other than giving them the feeling that they are “full”. Dogs are essentially carnivores. Meat eaters; ideally you want product where proteins and meats are listed first. Avoid chemicals and preservatives. Another “buzzword” to try and avoid is the term “by-products.” this means that the food is made up of items such as the ears, hooves and other parts of animals that aren’t typically used in human consumption. I’m a firm beliver in the most important factor being how to read the label and perhaps we should put it first, not last.
C o m m e r c i a l D o g F o o d
Commercial dog food is by far the most popular choice amongst us dog owners. Commercial dog food is so convenient and reasonably priced – but what are the long term implications of feeding it to our dogs, and is it really value for money?
The sad truth is that most of these commercial dog food products (regardless of what fancy name is printed on the label) are muck – most of these big companies are taking us for a ride, marketed as “healthy” in reality they appear to have no regard for our pets health or well-being
Not all commercial dog foods are killing our dogs – just most of them. Most of these products are woefully deficient in key nutrients and are chock full of toxic muck and fillers (like grain) that provide no nutritional benefit to our dogs.
Some of the ingredients hiding behind the inept labeling laws and marketing tactics are: Indigestible waste products, colors, dyes, toxins, pesticides, chemicals, harmful preservatives (BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin) and antibiotics. It doesn’t stop there, then you’ve got a wide range of dead, diseased, disabled or dying animals prior to their visit to the slaughter house and euthanized animals from zoos added to the mix. You may even find some so called animal “by-products”. Basically all of the muck that other industries can’t or won’t use can end up in your dog’s dinner bowl. To top it all off any nutrition that is present in this toxic cocktail is then ruined by the cooking processes used. You wouldn’t want to feed that to you children, so why your dog?
Imagine if you or I were able to lay all of the contents of a typical commercial dog food product out on a table in front of us. I’ve got no doubt we would be at first surprised, then disgusted and angry – have you ever tried to read the label on a can of dog food?
Thankfully not all dog food companies take us as lightweights. Some have even realized that we are capable of looking beyond the hype and doing some research and compare of our own. Remember not all top brand is always the best for our pet.
R a w D o g F o o d
Raw dog food diet is the growth sector within the dog food marketplace. This category includes the raw food you source and prepare yourself or the pre-made and packaged products like Dr. Billinghurst’s BARF raw food diet (evolutionary diet), Steve’s Real Food for dogs and Primal Pet Foods.
Raw dog food is a fairly broad term as there are many variations on this feeding method. The common thread with raw food enthusiasts is that they believe feeding raw is the most natural way to feed a dog. Raw foodies believe that this is the way dogs have successfully evolved and that eating a raw diet is the way nature intended dogs to get their nutrition. The raw food diet is said to replicate how a dog would eat in the wild. A raw dog food diet is sometimes referred to as an “all natural” diet as ingredients are generally free from chemicals, preservatives, additives, by-products and fillers (like worthless grains).
Some raw food proponents love to give big meaty bones and others won’t. The same applies with fruit and vegetables – some people say that vegetable matter is a natural part of a wild dogs diet, gathered from the stomach of their prey. The following is an example of the real whole foods that are included in a raw dog food diet. These ingredients are usually organic or all-natural produce: Chicken, lamb, pork, salmon, turkey, kangaroo, rabbit, quail and organ meat. You may also find raw meaty bones and a long list of fresh fruit and vegetables. Plus you’ll find nutritious ingredients such as eggs, kelp, yogurt, flax seed meal and other supplements. Compare this list to what you read on a commercial dog food label – there’s simply no comparison.
Raw foods argue that a raw food diet provides the enzyme rich nutrients and amino acids in a perfect unaltered state – which is easily digested. They believe that the raw dog food diet leads to fewer visits to the Vet, strengthened immune systems and less allergy and disease. They also point to the over-all health and appearance of their dogs for proof that the raw diet is the right way to go. Raw foodies report increased longevity and reproductive capacity in their dogs. Another benefit of feeding raw is healthy teeth and gums and well developed jaws, neck and shoulder muscles (from all the chewing).
On the other hand detractors of feeding raw focus on the danger of foodborne illness through the threat of bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Some also say that it is difficult to feed a nutritionally balanced meal the raw way.
One tip I would suggest if you are considering the raw feeding option for your dogs is to go out and visit a breeder or friend who already feeds a raw dog food diet. Have a chat with them and take a really good look at their dogs – the health of our dogs is always what matters most.
H o m e m a d e D o g F o o d
With all the recent news about the dog food recall and associated concerns with commercial dog foods, the homemade dog food option has really come to the fore.
Preparing your dog’s meals from scratch has many benefits, including the complete control of all meals served. You know exactly what goes into every meal (and where it was sourced) and you also know that it has been prepared in a clean environment.
It does take an organized person to set up a homemade feeding plan and then prepare all of the daily meals. The homemade dog food option also comes with the added responsibility of formulating nutritionally balanced meals (proteins, vitamins etc.) and meeting the calorie requirements for your individual dog. If you arm yourself with some good dog food recipes and get into a routine this process is not all that difficult to maintain.
Typical homemade dog meals include big meaty stews, healthy soups, pies, vegetables and maybe some raw bones every now and then.
For hundreds of well thought out and nutritionally balanced dog food recipes check out our Homemade Dog Food Recipes. Many dogs who have previously had skin allergies or other common health complaints have thrived when switched over to a good homemade dog food diet.