When looking for the best dog food for your dog, there are many factors to consider. Dog diets are formulated for size, age, breed, energy level, medical needs, and more. It’s hard to know which dog food is the best.
Should you buy your dog food from a store or make it yourself? Should it be wet or dry? Kibble or human foods? Raw or cooked? What kind of diet should your pup follow?
Choosing the right diet for our dog is one of the most important decisions that any of us makes, ever. If you are not sure whether your dog is being nourished by the best food to fit their individual needs, it’s time to reevaluate your pup’s diet.
It is always important to consult a trusted veterinarian or nutritionist when choosing the best dog food for your individual dog.
Here are some of the most popular dog diets that might be best for your pooch.
Kibble and Other Store Bought Food
When buying dog food from the store, it’s important to first check the label for ingredients. The ingredients will be listed in the order of the amount from highest to lowest.
Ideally, you’ll want a meat to be listed first, such as chicken, lamb, or beef. Eggs may also be high on the list. Grains such as wheat and flour should be low on the list. Check the bag to make sure the food is formulated for your dog’s age, breed, and weight, and ask your veterinarian about appropriate serving sizes.
Unfortunately, reading the label may not be enough to determine if a dog food is healthy. Many manufacturers know how to manipulate labels to make food sound more healthy and appealing.
They don’t, for instance, have a good way of indicating whether the food has more meat protein than grain protein. Also, terms like “human-grade” and “70 percent organic” don’t have legal definitions. They’re basically meaningless.
One of the benefits of store bought food is that it is usually affordable, though there are several homemade dog food recipes that can be made just as cheaply as store bought food.
Also, because you don’t really know the ingredients quantities or where they are sourced from, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s in your dog’s food. Pet food recalls happen all the time, and dogs do get sick when ingredients are contaminated.
If you must feed your dog store bought food, consult your veterinarian and make sure it is the best quality you can find. Keep in mind that there is no reason you can’t add certain healthy human foods to your dog’s store bought food, as well. These can provide a much-needed health boost.
Home Cooked Meals
There are tons of recipes for home cooked dog food online, but you should definitely ask your veterinarian before sharing human foods with your dog. Do your research and determine which foods are healthy and which are toxic.
Avoid artificial flavors, preservatives, additives, and anything that isn’t whole, natural, and organic. Wash all foods, too, as they may be treated with pesticides or herbicides. It’s best to get food from a place that you trust to not treat food with chemicals, as these can be toxic to dogs.
Ask your veterinarian or nutritionist about appropriate amounts of foods to serve your dog. Some healthy foods are not good in large quantities. Blueberries, for example, are great for dogs and full of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Too many of them, however, can cause a tummy ache and diarrhea.
It is important to note that some veterinarians believe that cooking food destroys some of the valuable nutrients that the ingredients contain, even though it kills some of the potentially harmful bacteria.
Again, do your research. It is up to you to make appropriate decisions about what your dog eats based on your own knowledge and the knowledge of experts you trust.
Raw food diets are a fairly new trend. With these diets, human foods are not cooked before being served to dogs. Many owners and vets claim that this has tremendous health benefits for dogs, including improving the health of their coats, their breath, and their digestion.
Others claim that serving raw food can cause infections from things like E. coli and salmonella. Dogs are not likely to suffer from these infections unless their immune systems are already compromised, but it is something to consider, especially if your dog is sick or has a chronic medical condition.
If you are going to give your dog raw food, it is important that you know how to source ingredients, handle food properly, and make sure you keep everything as sanitary as possible.
Some store bought dog food manufacturers are jumping on the raw dog food trend and selling pre-made raw dog foods. You should research these thoroughly before buying.
Several of the same problems exist with these as with other store bought foods, including you not fully knowing exactly what ingredients go into the food or how much.
Special Medical Diets
Some dogs have special medical needs that factor into which diets are best for them. Diabetic dogs, for example, should have a high fiber, low fat diet. Dogs with congestive heart failure should have restricted sodium, added taurine, and more amino acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids might be necessary for dogs with skin conditions. It may be recommended for dogs with cancer to go on a ketogenic diet.
If your dog has a medical condition, follow your veterinarian’s instructions for nutrition closely. You’ll need to pay close attention to ingredients, serving sizes, and keeping your dog at the appropriate weight.
There are no miracle cures, but the right food can improve health, keep medical conditions under control, and strengthen the immune system.