Pet parents are careful about what they feed their fur babies. With so many options available in the market, many feel overwhelmed in choosing the right food for four-legged babies.
Should you rely only on home-cooked food or buy branded food packs? What kind of supplements should you feed your pet to ensure good health? And most importantly, are the marketed nutritious products really good for your dog?
In this blog, we’ll answer your questions about choosing nutritious and healthy food for dogs.
Nutritious Dog Food
Meat, fruits, grains, and vegetables offer vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., necessary for dogs. Grains provide wholesome nutrients to dogs and can be included in their diet unless your pet is allergic. In this case, you should opt for grain-free dog food.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to have allergies to certain food items. Your pet’s health conditions may also add restrictions to its diet. Talk to your dog’s vet about which ingredients to avoid. For example, some dogs cannot digest food with high fiber, and some have an upset stomach each time they eat cheese.
Reading the Label
When we look at the list of ingredients on the label, we consider them from the human perspective. What appears healthy and nutritious may not be good for your dog. Labels can also be misleading.
Dog food with chicken implies that chicken should make up for 70% of the total food in the packet. But, this is not always the case. Words like ‘chicken platter’ or ‘chicken dinner’ may contain only 10% chicken combined with other ingredients.
The phrase ‘with chicken’ indicates that there is around 3% chicken in the product. When the label says ‘chicken flavored,’ the dog food is flavored to taste like chicken but doesn’t contain the actual ingredient.
The same applies to all kinds of meats. Furthermore, whole meat sounds nutritious, but in reality, it contains more water than a meat meal. This means that the final processed dog food will have less meat. On the other hand, a meat meal is already processed to remove water and hence doesn’t affect the overall percentage of meat in your dog food.
Adherence to AAFCO Guidelines
AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials. This registered organization provides strict guidelines to manufacture ‘complete and balanced foods for dogs and cats. The dog food you buy should have the minimum necessary nutrients as recommended by AAFCO for each stage/ category. These are classified as the following:
- All Life Stages
- Adult Maintenance
- Supplement Feeding Only
- Growth and Production
Dog food for puppies differs from the one you feed a senior/ old dog—similarly, the required nutrient value changes for small and large breeds. Large breeds need food that caters to their musculoskeletal health. Puppies and pregnant dogs need food marked ‘growth and production’ along with ‘all life stages’ to have a balanced diet.
A dog aged more than seven years will belong to the senior category. It could be of normal health, underweight, or overweight. Some dogs might have kidney trouble or joint pains. Furthermore, older dogs prefer wet food to dry food. Wet food is easier to eat and swallow. It also contains more fresh meat than dry dog food.
Remember that once you open the can of wet dog food, you should keep it in the refrigerator to prevent it from getting spoiled.
Tips to Consider When Choosing Dog Food
- Don’t get tempted by marketing gimmicks like ‘super foods,’ ‘organic,’ ‘ancient grains,’ etc. Your dog may not need these, or the product itself may not offer what it claims to have.
- Read customer reviews on the internet and pay attention to recurring complaints or issues. Inquire if your fellow pet parents use the dog food you shortlist for your fur baby and get their opinion.
- Don’t always rely on recommendations from the pet store. They could be more focused on their earnings than your dog. It’s a better option to talk to the vet, that too, about ingredients rather than brands.
- Raw meat sounds more nutritious but contains harmful microorganisms and bacteria that are harmful to you and your dog. Freeze-dried dog foods might be a safer choice, but the best kind is pasteurized and processed dog food.
It’s vital to get your vet’s approval for the dog food you choose. Your dog’s vet knows your pet’s health condition and can prescribe a list of necessary nutrients. Ask for recommendations or discuss the ingredients with the vet before making the final decisions. Dogs can randomly develop allergies, so pay attention to how your dog reacts when it eats certain foods.