When it comes to feeding your dog, you probably get overwhelmed with all the choices available. From organic foods to grain-free, choosing the right one seems like a gamble.
Most of the commercials promise that your dog will not only love the food but also be healthier and happier once they eat it.
But you also have to consider how your precious pup will react to the food.
Some of our beloved dogs have sensitive stomachs or other health issues that make eating a challenge. Other times, your dog will simply reject what you bought, no matter how well rated it is.
Choosing your dog’s food can sometimes be as difficult as choosing your own. Here is a guide to choosing the right food for your dog and knowing what to look for to make your decisions easier.
Types of Dog Food
Many people strongly believe in the BARF (Bones and Raw Feeding or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) method of providing food for our dogs.
The benefits of choosing this style of feeding is meant to achieve the best results in your dog’s health and extend his life.
Kibble is a fairly new invention (it was created around the beginning of the 1900s) and is definitely convenient. Much like the foods we eat, processed dog foods are, unfortunately, packed with questionable and hard-to-pronounce ingredients. But, these foods often have negative side effects that raw meats do not.
For example, health issues like obesity, food intolerance, cancers and even dental problems can develop depending on which brand of dog food you choose.
While cooked foods do have various nutrients your dog needs, cooking meats breaks down certain proteins and enzymes.
Raw foods contain the enzymes dogs need to properly digest food. The lack of these enzymes and high content of chemical preservatives and additives making packed dog foods not seem like the right choice.
However, there is only an assumption that because dogs are animals, it’s better for them to eat raw foods. But offering raw meat does not guarantee your dog getting a completely balanced meal. There is also the risk of viral and bacterial contamination.
So when it comes to choosing raw food for your dog, you want to make sure the food is not just leftover table scraps but actual clean, nutrient-rich offerings filled with benefits like calcium and Vitamin A.
If you’re still unsure of committing to the raw diet for your dog, here are a few of its benefits:
- Lessening skin allergies
- Maintaining a shinier coat
- Reducing the IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) caused by your dog being unable to digest and process the chemicals in generic kibble
- Slowing degenerative teeth diseases like gingivitis
- Hindering ear infections
Dry food is a great, convenient way to feed our dogs. Because it can be bought in bulk, you can store it at home and have it ready for daily feedings. The bulk size also gets a cheaper price for how much you get.
Another perk of choosing dry food is that it doesn’t need any refrigeration and can be left in your dog’s bowl for a longer period of time.
Dry foods are also a combination of proteins, meat by-products, vitamins, minerals and the fats your dog needs for a healthy life.
Dry foods are also created with the help of animal-specific nutritionists. Bigger, more popular brand named dog foods have the benefit of a team of veterinary scientists working on creating the best possible dog food.
Some smaller brands that are only sold by groomers or in animal clinics, while being more expensive than average dog foods, do not have this benefit.
Because of the science behind the food, you can choose a dog food right for your dog. Your options include choosing based on age, activity-level and even certain health benefits like stronger bones, healthier skin or a shinier, less matted coat.
You can also free-feed with dry food. Free-feeding is when you don’t have your dog set to a certain feeding schedule but simply pour the daily amount into a bowl so your dog can eat at his leisure.
One of the best parts of canned dog food is that it typically has a higher protein percentage compared to dry foods.
It is also higher in fats and lower in carbohydrates.
Canned food, because it’s softer, is a good choice for dogs of all ages. Once our pets get older, they develop dental problems or lose teeth, which makes it harder for them to eat.
There are also more choices when it comes to canned foods.
When you choose this option, it’s extremely important to remember to not have the food exposed, uncovered and not in the fridge past an hour. Having the food out longer can lead to bacterial contamination.
Canned food can also help your dog lose weight. The high moisture content found in canned dog foods can lead to your dog feeling fuller and wanting to eat less.
Another added benefit to canned food is they don’t contain any of the synthetic preservatives found in other foods. This is because of how they are packed. This keeps all of the oils and fats your pup needs safe and not spoiled.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Food
The quality of foods we buy is often directly related to how much we pay for the food. Organic foods, including those for dogs, are going to be more expensive than the other generic brands.
Choose a food that has gone through the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) trials.
These trials are tests to make sure that the foods we buy are well-balanced and not lacking in nutrients. It also means that the formulas for the foods have been reviewed by veterinary nutritionists for the intent of keeping your dog healthy.
Organic dog foods, in particular, reduce your dog’s skin ailments and can also help lessen any of their allergy symptoms. Generic goods, because of their high number of processed components, can lead to digestive disorders that organic foods will not.
Food for Large and Small Dogs
Depending on the size of your dog, the amount of daily calorie intake will vary. Different breeds will also have different needs.
Less active dogs won’t need as much food because they won’t use as much energy.
Larger dogs like Labradors, boxers and German Shepherds need roughly 18 ounces of food if they’re under 100 pounds.
For smaller dogs, like beagles, they’ll only need about a 1/3 of that amount to get their daily nutritional requirement.
If you’re trying to control your dog’s weight or help him lose weight, you’ll want to reduce the amount of meals you offer and not free-feed.
Unsure if your dog qualifies as overweight?
Most adult dogs, through a combination of being overfed and not as active as they should be are obese. Lack of proper diet and exercise paired with access to human foods or treats can mean your dog weighs too much and you don’t even notice.
One key to telling if your dog is at a healthy weight is whether or not you can feel his ribs. If you push and all you feel is soft, fleshy fat, then your dog is too plump to be healthy.
You should also look for a svelte curve in your dog’s back. The different breeds will have a variety in body types, but it’s a typical thing for obese dogs to have a flat back as that’s how the fat spreads in their bodies.
Treats are, just like for ourselves, a special snack for our dogs. But, also like us, there is a line where there can be too much of a good thing.
Excessive treat giving can lead to your dog getting too many calories for the day, which in turn can lead to obesity.
The general rule for healthy and non-detrimental treats is to limit them only about 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Don’t let the cute begging convince you otherwise. Too many treats can lead to serious health problems.
You are also not limited to only the pre-packaged treat options. You can try other, natural treats like broccoli, watermelon or even berries.
If you do choose to use human foods, make sure you research and stay away from toxic choices like chocolate, grapes, anything caffeinated and onions.
Choosing the right dog food can be a difficult decision. There are so many options on the market and some products will definitely be better than others.
If you have the time to commit to making homemade meals, raw or cooked, that could definitely be a benefit to your dog. However, if you can’t do that, then finding the right dry or canned foods is your best option.
Sometimes, your dog won’t want to eat what you’re offering. Or even worse, sometimes the food you think is best can make them sick. Explore your options and try a variety of methods to find out which one works best for your furry family member.