Your Guide to Finding a Healthy Dog Food
Families, and even people who live alone, love to have dogs as their pets. Dogs are friendly, loyal, and fun to be around. But along with having the joy of playing with a pet and always having a constant companion, it’s also crucial for pet owners to know their responsibilities. In order for your dog to live a long, healthy life—because who doesn’t want that for a pet—it’s essential to provide for the basic needs of your dog. Offering a healthy dog food is definitely vital because this is where your furry friend will get the much-needed nutrients to keep him healthy and vibrant.
When you go to pet-supply stores, there are various kinds of food products for dogs. Sometimes it can be difficult to make a selection without help, as there are literally dozens of different brands and formulas, so choosing can make your head spin. Depending on your dog’s breed, age, size, and general preferences, sometimes it can be really difficult to choose which one to get. At first glance, you might think that all of them are basically just the same.
Making Smart Choices
There are a few things you need to take into consideration when it comes to supplying your dog with adequate nutrition. As a pet owner, you need to know just the right amount of food that you should give to your dog. You don’t want your pet to be overweight, and you don’t want him to be malnourished or underweight, either. Food intake normally depends on three different factors: the age, level of activity, and the ideal weight. For instance, a young Australian shepherd needs to have more food because he has a lot of energy and needs to exercise a lot to burn it off. But for other dog breeds that are not that physically active and prefer to spend a day in your lap or just sitting (like a Pug), a huge food intake isn’t necessary.
When you start searching for dog food products in the stores, you probably won’t have a hard time finding something that looks right because manufacturers provide labels that serve as guidance. They typically recommend amounts of food to serve that are based solely on your dog’s weight. The problem is that your dog may be overweight, so the weight recommendation on the bag won’t even apply to him. You actually want to be feeding the amount for the weight he needs to get down to, not the weight he currently is. That’s why you need to account for activity level and age, not just the weight info on the label.
Before you start searching for a dog food, make sure that you consult with your veterinarian first. Your vet can suggest the best dog foods that will suit what your dog needs. For instance, your vet can recommend quality dog foods that will prevent your dog from getting sick. If your dog already has health problems, such as renal failure, you may not know that you should be feeding a low-protein food to slow the progress of the disease, for example. Dog food is often quite high in protein and fat, but choosing that type of food would speed up the kidney issues, so you can’t just select anything for any dog. Proper nutrition is important for your dog to live healthier and longer, and your vet will help you take your dog’s special needs into account.
You can’t just give any food to your dog without measuring calories, either. It’s essential that you monitor the amount of calories that you give in a day. Dogs need about 30 calories per pound of their body weight per day, but smaller active dogs can have 40. Unfortunately, not all dog foods will tell you the amount of calories for a specific serving. Some vets recommend dry food diets because they tend to have lower calories compared to canned dog foods. It’s also important to monitor your pet’s treat intake, because these are hidden calories that can really add up, especially if you’re using them for training.
Familiarizing Yourself with Dog Food Labels
In searching for the best dog food, you face a lot of options. As such, you have to familiarize yourself with the terms that are used on product labels, assuming your vet hasn’t specified a particular food your dog needs to eat for health reasons. Some dog-food packaging and product labeling appears to be visually enticing even if it doesn’t contain the nutrient profile that describes what it provides. First, when looking at the product label, look at the name. The name of the product should equal the content. For instance, a pet food with name “Beef for Dogs” should have 95 percent beef in its ingredients, and beef should be one of the first three ingredients on the list, which should also clearly indicate the type of meat that is used in the product (it may say things like “beef liver” or “beef meal”).
Another detail that you should look for when you read the product package is the word “flavor” somewhere in the description. When a product says “beef flavor,” it does not necessarily mean that it contains any real beef. What the product basically says is that it tastes like beef. Read the complete content of the product to see the list of ingredients used. If you see beef flavor on the bag but no beef in the ingredients, put the bag back on the shelf.
Don’t be enticed when you see labels that use phrases like “premium dog food,” “super ultra premium,” etc. These words are just marketing material and don’t actually mean that they’re better for your dog. Just look at the nutritional profile and ingredients lists and read product reviews online. In that way, you will know if the product is indeed a premium one.
In searching for a dog food, you can either choose between wet canned varieties or dry bagged kibbles. Between the two, you should go for wet pet food. Dry dog food is not always that fresh and may sometimes be of lesser quality, unlike wet dog food that is fresher and has a more realistic texture. They often contain more protein. Although dry dog food can also be a good choice, it is not widely preferred because sometimes this type of food is sprayed with fats, which make the product tastier but not healthier. If you do feed kibbles, make sure they’re sized properly for your dog’s mouth. Larger kibbles are difficult for small breeds to eat, and they can choke.
As your dog’s primary caretaker, you really need to take the time to research quality foods and take any of his health issues into account. If you’re switching food brands and choosing something that’s higher quality than the previous food, remember to do it gradually over the course of a week or two. Switching cold turkey doesn’t give your dog’s intestinal bacteria a chance to adapt to the new ingredients, which can make your pet sick. If you’re unsure about the right food to choose, consult your veterinarian, and don’t feed your pal a food that you’re not comfortable with when it comes to quality and the nutritional profile.