As a responsible dog owner, your dog’s health and well being is very important to you. Not to mention a healthy dog means fewer trips to the vets which keeps the cost of bills down!
So taking the time to decide what type of food to feed your dog, is an important factor in maintaining their health. People will sometimes just pick the first or cheapest bag of dog food up that they see at the store, or the popular ones they see advertised on television. But that doesn’t mean they are the best and It’s easy to overlook the importance of what you are feeding your canine companions, but it is essential for their well being to find out what is the best dog food to feed your dog.
Not all dogs are the same
I have had a few different breeds over the years, some have been able to eat anything, others have had to be on a diet to keep an eye on their weight, and others one of the main breeds I have had being Shar-Peis who are known for skin issues and ear problems have had issues with many types of food and it has taken me a while to find out what is the best for them to eat.
To keep your dog healthy the main things they need are plenty of fresh water, they should be fed good quality dog food and it should be fed in the correct amounts to meet their size and energy requirements. If feeding manufactured dogs foods then you should always follow the guidelines on the dog food packaging for the recommended feeding amounts.
Choosing a dog food
The first challenge in choosing a dog food is picking one that has the best overall quality. A term that comes up a lot when talking about dog food is human grade. Human grade means that the food you are feeding your dog is good enough for you to eat. Many commercial dog foods are made from ingredients that are unacceptable or inferior to the foods we eat there for they are not suitable for human consumption. Often the meat that is used in dog food is of a quality considered unfit for humans to eat.
Many of the big dog food companies try to provide balanced proportions of vitamins and minerals to provide the maximum benefits for your dog. Although, upon checking the labels you may see that a lot of the different brands of dog food have almost identical labels.
When buying your dogs food from a reputable dog food company they will usually provide an explanation on the packaging for each supplement and how it will benefit your dog.
Always read the labels
You should always read the labels on the food you chose for your dog to see what proteins, vitamins and minerals are being provided in it and what they will do to nutritionally benefit your dog’s health.
Studies have shown that the primary ingredient in dog food should be meat-based protein, so any foods that have a higher content of ingredients like cornmeal, flour or cereals are not good for your dog. A better quality dog food will result in your dog having a shiny healthier coat, and fewer digestive problems and also firmer stools. Pet-nutrition experts will always agree that the best dog food is food made from human-grade ingredients like meat, whole grains and vegetables. Premium made dog foods are so important because good nutrition is essential for the long and healthy life of your dog.
Types of dog food
There are many different varieties of dog food for you to choose from. The three most popular types of dog foods are commercial made dry, semi-moist and tinned products that you can easily pick up from the pet store or supermarket or order online. When buying these products always check ingredients contain no preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. A good way to tell is the colour of the foods if they contain unnaturally brightly coloured pieces of kibble for example then they will contain artificial colours for sure.
Raw dog food is becoming more popular these days. More and more veterinarians recommend feeding your dog with a raw diet as they feel that this is the best choice and is the healthiest food for your dog. Your own dog will confirm this as you will probably never see your dog enjoy commercial dog food the way they will enjoy a good meaty bone or freshly prepared food made with the same ingredients we would eat ourselves.
Advocates of the raw dog food diet will admit that the costs are more than traditional commercial dog foods, but they argue it’s worth it. You can find natural home-made dog food recipes for free online or consult your veterinarian as you need to make sure what they are getting is balanced with all the correct proteins, vitamins and minerals that your dog nutritionally needs, this is more time-consuming that just picking it up from the store but your dog will thank you for it.
All-natural dog food
Natural dog foods should contain only fresh, natural and wholesome ingredients for your dog that are easily digestible. Good natural dog food has 100% nutritional value which is important for keeping your dogs healthy and strong. Chicken, egg and fish are great examples for providing protein. Along with ingredients in natural dog food that really help the health of your dog’s skin and also your dog’s coat which is a great benefit for dogs that suffer from skin allergies. One of the rescues I had was a Shar-Pei and she had terrible skin issues, she had to have food free of grain and also chicken and potato, once I found this out I provided her with a good natural homemade dog food and this helped her skin immensely. The main drawback of feeding natural dog food is that it has a shorter shelf life than commercial brands, but you can make batches up and freeze them into portions then take a few days out at a time when needed.
Dried Dog Food
A good high-quality dry dog food will generally work out to be more economical than the raw natural dog food, and the majority of dog owners generally go for dry dog food because of its convenience and how easy it is to store. Most of the cheaper dry dog foods are made from soybean, corn or rice, so if you do find you cannot afford to go down the natural route go for a premium dry dog food that is made with all-natural, human-grade ingredients, again always read the labels.
Vegetarian dog foods
Just as there are dog foods available that are specially formulated for dogs that are allergic to wheat, corn, and chicken. There are also vegetarian dog foods available to owners who do not want their dogs to consume meat products. There is a big divide in the dog community over whether feeding your dog meat or a vegetable-based food diet is better, I know dogs that are healthy and doing really well on both types of diets. But as with anything, whether your dog has allergies or you are considering putting them on a specialised diet, you should always consult your vet first.
Do the best you can
If you do decide that for you the best way to go is the commercial route, always try to choose high-quality premium dog food as it will contain more nutrients and protein than the economy brands. Unfortunately not all dog food brands contain high-quality and natural ingredients, so always check the labels. Consult your vet if unsure about the contents of what you are feeding your dog, or before deciding on which dog food you are going feed your dog or puppy. They will know your dog’s dietary needs and you will find that a lot of veterinary practices these days often sell premium commercial and natural dog foods onsite.
The main thing at the end of the day is to find food that will have good health benefits for your dog that they also enjoy eating, even though most dogs usually prefer what we’re eating! It doesn’t hurt to feed your dog treats from time to time though, as all dogs deserve being spoilt sometimes, and the saying ‘The way to the heart is through the stomach’ definitely applies to dogs!!