Numerous brands, various dog food types, raw dog food, natural ingredients, no poultry by-products, wholesome ingredients, dog food for adults, pups, seniors, limited ingredient food-be- the way pet food is marketed these days creates a lot of confusion for us as every brand markets their food as the best one so it’s hard to choose the right one for your pooch.
Everything can’t be the best. Everyone has opinions based on either their personal experience or marketing influence. But the right way is to learn and understand what generally is considered a good dog food and then look for the healthiest dog food reviews by experts on the web. That insight will help you to determine what to look for in the shelves of pet supplies store.
What Should Dog Food Consists Of?
Unlike cats, dogs are not strict carnivores. Their daily nutritional needs are fulfilled from meat, vegetables, and fruits. So, the first thing to keep in mind is to not choose the food which doesn’t have any grains or vegetable as ingredients.
Your canine buddy might be allergic to some grains, in that case, you can switch to a grain-free food. But in either case, grain-free dog food is not a good option. It is said that dog food producers use grains as fillers to bring down the overall cost of the product. And some use them more to keep the product cost lower which compromises with the quality of the food in terms of nutrition.
Well, researchers are investigating a link between heart disease and grain-free dog food. That said, always try to select allergic substance free food instead of grain-free.
Dog food is mainly of two types based on the structure: processed kibble and wet food. As humans, we have an innate aversion of processed food but it is the second best option after homemade dog food. Processed food bags all the essential nutrients with supplements and is not generally harmful to dogs.
Nutritional Needs of a Dog
While all certified dog food contains a minimum level of nutrients a dog requires, it is important to keep in mind that not all dogs have the same nutritional needs. That’s when the dog food categorized by age group and medical conditions come into the picture.
Dogs nutritional needs change over the course of his life. That said, you should not feed puppy food to your pooch at all stages of his life. If your dog is suffering from some disease or has some medical condition, your vet might suggest a prescription diet or a raw pet food diet.
In a nutshell, it is important to know each dog has different nutritional needs and should choose the right dog food accordingly. I am not going to discuss what nutrients are essential for a dog as there is a lot to discuss and is another article for another time.
For pet parents who prefer homemade dog food over processed food, it is very crucial to understand the nutritional needs of their pooches thoroughly as they might need to add supplements to food. They shouldn’t hesitate to take the help of their vets.
Misinformation and Dog Nutrition Myths
There is a zillion of articles and tonnes of information available about dog food nutrition on the internet. The only information you should consider about nutrition is that is backed with scientific evidence. There is no harm in being skeptical, right?
Some pet parents have issues with their dogs eating animal byproducts and grains. As we discussed earlier that grains are actually wholesome ingredients, should be avoided only if the dog has a grain allergy. Moreover, quality animal byproducts (organs and entrails) are nutritious, and sometimes contains more nutrients than muscle meat humans ingest.
Regulated byproducts don’t include hair, floor sweepings, hooves, intestinal contents, or manure.
In case of any confusion, feel free to consult your veterinarian.
How to Read a Dog Food Label?
There’s a lot of trouble in deciphering those tiny black letters printed on a label of dog food while handling your bag and other stuff in a store. The information written on the label is often misleading and deceptive.
You should consider reading the label carefully if you don’t usually do it. Even if you read the label and do not understand a thing, that’s not going to help you. So, learn how to read dog (pet) food label and understand what means what before the next time you are out to purchase your doggie’s food.
The label ought to include following list.
- Product name
- Net weight of the product
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Guaranteed analysis
- List of ingredients
- Intended animal species (i.e. dog or cat)
- Statement of nutritional adequacy
- Feeding guidelines
You can read and learn profoundly the dog food label in the article I have linked to. However, I am going to pinpoint and explain a few things here.
“Complete And Balanced” Dog Food
“Complete And Balanced”– this is the first thing you should look for on the label. This phrase is not merely an advertisement. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) has made a standard which ensures that the food is actually complete and balanced.
Complete and balanced diets are supposed to have a minimum amount of all the necessary nutrients for dogs which you can see in “guaranteed analysis”. However, AAFCO doesn’t provide any lab test for testing the amount of nutrients in dog food. They make standards and dog food manufacturers have to follow them.
Guaranteed Analysis is not super accurate but it should be used to evaluate dog food from that label.
The product’s name says a lot about what’s inside and in how much amount. Let’s see it by an example. The term “chicken” means the chicken should be at least 70% of the product. For the terms “chicken dinner”, “chicken entrèe”, or “chicken platter”, the food should include at least 10% chicken. The term “with chicken” means it should be at least 3% of the entire product, whereas “chicken flavor” means the chicken is present in the amount it produces the taste of it (less than 3%).
Choosing the right dog food for your Fido is daunting if you don’t know nitty gritty about dog nutritional needs and how to read the labels on dog food. The best dog food for your four-legged furry friend is the one which satisfies his nutritional needs at the current stage of his life including his ailment, allergic substances, and particular nutritional deficiencies.