Posted by Lora Shaw on November 11, 2016
They say that you are what you eat, and that saying stands true for our dogs. While pet owners are in charge of our own dietary decisions, our dogs rely on us to make sure the food they eat is healthy and nourishing.
However, the options available out there can be overwhelming, and every brand of dog food wants you to believe it’s the best around. Ultimately, the best dog food to buy (or make) depends on your individual pet, but there are some general guidelines that are worth following.
Many of the methods you use to screen your own food purchases will apply equally when buying pet food. For starters, what’s on the inside is much more important than flashing packaging and vague terms like ‘all natural.’
Instead, look for foods that have been deemed “complete and balanced” by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), an association of public agencies that regulates the sale and distribution of animal food and drugs. According to the FDA, “complete and balanced” means the food contains the recommended level of every single nutrient listed in the AAFCO’s nutritional profile.
Both puppies and older dogs can have special dietary needs, and shouldn’t regularly be fed standard dog food.
For starters, many feeds specifically made for pups and older dogs contain smaller pieces than standard dog food. For puppies’ smaller mouths, or elderly dogs who can’t chew like they used to, this helps assure the kibble is broken down properly before moving on to their stomachs.
Growing puppies can often need up to twice the nutritional requirements of adult dogs, and puppy food is specifically made with that in mind. Likewise, elderly dogs often need fewer calories, along with supplements to fight arthritis and other age-related conditions.
Some dogs can be sensitive to certain proteins in dog food, which typically results in skin conditions like itching or flaking. Dogs can also have a food intolerance, symptoms of which may look the same, but don’t involve the immune system.
Since a food trial is really the only dependable way to find out what is triggering a response in your dog, it’s important to work with your veterinarian to find a solution. Recognizing some common signs of allergies will help your vet to isolate the problem. Some symptoms include:
For the determined, making your own dog food at home is also an option – in this way you’re guaranteed to know what’s inside your dog’s food dish, and you can potentially save some cash.
Making dog food can be complicated and time consuming, however, and finding the needed ingredients can sometimes be difficult.
Since your dog’s age, breed, and individual health issues will all play a factor in what recipe you ultimately choose, this is another area where you should consult your vet before going forward. Your vet may be able to point you to specific recipes created by animal nutritionists that will make the best fit for your pet.
Just remember, when making dog food at home, it is important to follow the recipe’s instructions exactly – don’t switch ingredients, and follow ingredient preparation closely. Something as simple as cooking chicken with or without the skin can change its nutritional makeup.
Your dog relies on you to make healthy food choices for him. The more you know about their needs and the products available, the better.
About the author
Lora Shaw is currently the Vice President of Operations at Pet Palace.
Categories: Tips for Your Pets