There are a ton of dog parents out there who know next to nothing about what exactly they feed their dog. Well, maybe that’s because they haven’t yet gone through the dog food guide we’re about to bring you today.
When it comes to dog food, a lot of people think that once you buy from a big brand or spend a lot of money, your pup is safe. However, that is not the case most times.
Today, in this dog food guide, we’ll be exploring the different areas of dog food. We’ll also be busting a few myths along the way, so hold on tight, it might be a bumpy ride.
Table of Contents
What Every Dog Food Should Contain
When we talk about quality ingredients, we talk about how best-fit the things used to make the dog foods are. In any part of the world, any sphere of life, the quality will always be more appreciated than quantity.
Getting a dog food for a great bargain might be a good deal. However, do well to check and make sure that the ingredients used are of great quality. To make your job easier, top brands show great quality in their food and show them in the following words or phrases:
- Listings of sources of meat.
- Complete and whole nutrition.
These are a few things you can look out for when it comes to choosing the right ingredients. If you’re well abreast of specific dog food ingredients and how they might affect your dog, check for those before purchase.
Just like we humans need to combine various food types to get all the nutritional value we need, so do dogs. However, unlike we humans, our dogs can’t choose their own food. Because of that, the onus falls on us to provide them with the right food that provides the right nutritional value.
Certain types of dog food promote certain values more than others. For example, we have dog food that is high in protein for muscle development. We also have some that are high in fat in case your dog is underweight or low in fat if they’re overweight.
Basically, when it comes to nutritional value, you need to figure out exactly what nutrition your dog needs per time. Once you have found what they need, feed it to them.
If your dog food isn’t providing as much nutrition as your dog needs, you can add to them using dog vitamin supplements.
Food Must Promote Healthy Diets
You know how we always strive, even though sometimes hard, to lead a healthy eating lifestyle? The same should go for your dog. A lot of packaged dog food contain artificial preservatives that are not very healthy. Do all you can to ensure your dog stays away from food with artificial preservatives.
Now, moving on to weightier matters, literally…
A very common problem with dogs all over America today is obesity.
What Is Obesity?
According to Wikipedia, obesity is a dangerous medical condition that arises as a result of an accumulation of excess fat.
A healthy dog food diet can help reduce the chances of this happening because:
- A healthy diet ensures that your dog stays energized. An energized dog is one who is encouraged to play more and exercise. These play and exercises help your dog burn fat and keep him fit.
- Also, a healthy diet ensures that your dog isn’t taking in too much fat or carbs. Excess fat and carbs are the major factors that result to obesity.
A healthy dog equals a happy dog, a happy dog equals a happy parent and don’t we want to be happy? The increase in energy means that your dog can play with you for longer periods which encourages bonding.
Also, if your dog is very active it encourages you to be very active too. This means that you too would be leading a healthy lifestyle simply by feeding your dog right.
Dog food Guide: Busting The Surrounding Myths
Myth 1: AAFCO Has Got Everything Under Control
AAFCO is an acronym that stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials. It’s an NGO, non-profit organization that is responsible for ensuring that every and any pet food in America meets up to a certain standard before it’s sold.
This is to make sure that every pet food sold is good enough and not harmful to pets. But don’t be fooled, this organization is governed by humans who can sometimes make mistakes. We have seen cases were some foods were recalled from the market. This shows that sometimes, toxic materials can slip out of their grasp.
Now that you know that the members of AAFCO are humans, even though experts and can make mistakes, do well to double-check before you feed your dog.
Myth 2: Any Food Labeled “All Natural” Is The Same As Actual Natural Food
Do not be deceived, most manufacturers put this there for marketing purposes. What they forget to tell you is that, although the food itself might be natural, they need preservatives to stay on the shelf for longer.
AAFCO certifies food to be natural once none of the ingredients used in making it has been altered by any chemical substances.
However, the nature of processed kibble is not the same as natural foods. This is because processed kibble goes through extreme heat during the process of sterilization.
Most of the time, this heat destroys the most important nutrients in the food. Things like amino acids and food enzymes are destroyed. But in order to fulfill AAFCO standards, something called a premix is added to the kibble.
A premix is a synthetic mixture of minerals and vitamins. This also brings in its own set of problems. These problems arise due to the fact that most of the premix used are manufactured in India and China. In these countries, there is poor quality control and this could pose a grave danger for dogs.
Look at this real-life example for an instance…
In 2007, not too long ago, thousands of pets were harmed, some even killed by unhealthy premixes that contained melamine in lethal doses. That’s really sad, but there’s yet another downer.
Now, even if these premixes are produced properly and no toxins are present, because they are synthetic, it’s hard for your dog to use them.
Myth 3: Raw Food Is Not Good.
We can go ahead and just call this story “cock and bull”. No, really, looks like something the cocks and bulls came together to deceive us with.
This is a myth that helps manufacturers sell more. However, testimonies from dog owners say otherwise. They tell us that their dogs even sometimes appear healthier after they opted for natural foods.
A study was once consulted in Stockholm, Sweden. Two sets of puppies, one fed with raw food, the other with processed food.
As pups, both look equally healthy. But going into adulthood, the ones fed with processed food began to look older. They aged speedily. They also were more prone to exhibit symptoms of degenerative diseases.
Meanwhile, the ones fed with raw food aged right and showed no symptoms of degenerative diseases.
Myth 4: Certain Food Is Better Because It Was Graded “Human Grade”
Different humans in different parts of the world have different eating habits. Most times what is considered edible by humans in one part of the world is irritating to the others. Certain sea creatures and insects are a good example of these types of foods.
So, unless you’re very sure the “human grade” they mean directly applies to what you see as “human grade”, don’t rush to get this. Don’t be misled.
Myth 5: To Get Balanced Dog Food, Get Commercial Dog Food
Okay, can we ask you a question of our own? If a commercial dog food is balanced, why do more than 50% of dogs still call in as obese?
According to “Relation Between the Domestic Dogs’ Well Being and Life Expectancy, a statistical essay,” research that spans a study across 500 dogs in 5 years. It was found out that dogs fed homemade dishes were prone to live at least 32 months longer than dogs fed with commercial and industrial foods, no matter how high-quality.
Dog Food Guide To A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet for your dog is food that contains all the nutritional value your dog needs. Nutritional needs will vary from pup to pup for the following reasons:
- Age– For example, younger pups need a lot of calcium for the strengthening of bones and teeth. However, excess of calcium for older dogs is very harmful.
- Size– the bigger your dog, the more protein he will need for muscle growth. He will also need more carbohydrates for his increased metabolism.
- Breed– Different breeds need specific nutritional values. Some breeds are more prone to certain diseases which can be prevented by certain food types.
- Health conditions– Diseases like obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, are bound to alter your dog’s diet creating a new meaning to his definition of balanced diet.
Classes Of Food That Should Be Present In Your Dog’s Diet
Below we’ll be listing the various classes of food that should be present in your dog food, guide to combining them properly and their importance.
The first and most important class of food that should be present in your pup’s diet is protein.
Protein is very important because:
- It is mostly involved in growth.
- It is necessary for healthy developments.
- Healthy immune systems are developed as a result of the intake of proteins.
To get your healthy protein, you’ll need to look at products such as chicken and lamb. If you want to buy commercial products, a simple “meat meal” should not replace “lamb meal” or “chicken meal”. Not all meats are a good source of protein.
Most of the protein you would need are gotten from meat, basically. Eggs too are a good source of protein. Milk can be a good source of protein also but make sure your dog is not lactose intolerant first.
- They provide your pup with the energy they need to go about their activities. If your dog isn’t fed properly with carbs, their energy levels would reduce. As a result, they won’t be able to exercise and they might get overweight.
- Contrary to popular opinion, carbs are not the main factors that result in obesity but fats are. So, if you’re going for a low-fat diet, they should be rich in carbs. Like we said earlier, no carbs equal no energy equals no exercise.
- Carbs can be found in most grains, vegetables and fruits.
- Alternative energy source to carbohydrates.
- They’re found in vegetable oil and animal fat.
- Just like protein, the specialized source of fat like “lamb fat” should be picked ahead of just “animal fat”.
Vitamins And Minerals
You need not worry too much about this especially if you buy commercial food. Any food approved by the AAFCO will contain necessary vitamins that your dog needs.
However, if your pup has a particular disease that might require more of a particular vitamin, do well to ask your veterinarian.
Dog Food Guide — Canned Or Dry?
When it comes to buying commercial dog food, there is always a great argument about which is healthier, canned or dry. We might not be able to say for sure. However, what we will do is show you the pros and cons of both and leave you to decide the winner.
First, dry dog food.
Dry Dog Food
- It’s gentle on the pockets, in other words, it’s more economical.
- Easy to use.
- Stools are more regular and firm.
- Prevents tartar. Tartar is a solid plaque that is stuck to a dog’s gum. Plaque is the coagulation of bacteria in the remnants of food in the mouth of a dog.
- Good especially if you have a large breed.
- You can leave this in the feeding bowl throughout the day which encourages free feeding.
- Helps dogs that love to chew.
- High carb content.
- Shorter life span than canned food before they’re opened. Note, before. Once they are opened, dry food lasts longer.
- Sometimes contains artificial preservatives.
Canned Dog Food
- High level of protein.
- Tastier, and smells more delicious than dry food to your dog.
- Because it’s so moisturized, (can get up to about 80%), it is preferred by small pups, oldies and sick dogs.
- It is easier to chew and eat.
- Longer shelf life before it is opened.
- Contains less preservatives because it is canned.
- Must be placed in the freezer once its opened.
- Even with refrigeration, it cannot be left open for that long.
- It’s more expensive.
- The dog stools more frequently and the stool is less solid.
- Can’t be left out for anything above one hour unless bacteria will begin to grow on it.
In our opinion, the kind of food you’ll need to get for your dog ultimately depends on these few things:
- Health status.
Below are a few tables that might help you choose what kind of foods you should buy based on the factors listed above.
|Small breeds||Canned food|
|Large breeds||Dry food|
|Young pup||Canned food|
|Middle age||Dry food|
|Aging dogs||Canned food|
|Healthy||Dry food or canned food depending on other factors|
|Low budget||Dry food|
|High budget||Canned food|
|Free feeders||Dry food|
At the end of the day, neither canned food or dry food is absolutely bad or good. It all depends on what you and your dog (more importantly) want.
Dog Food Guide — Dieting
There is an ever-increasing market when it comes to dog feeding choices. As modern-day nutritionists and scientists have found out, different dogs need different things for ultimate survival.
Below we list the various nutritional needs for various kinds of dogs.
A Puppy’s Nutritional Needs
Because at an early age dogs grow extremely rapidly, they need a lot of everything basically. Protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins, except carbs. Too many carbs will make them become restless and not allow them to rest properly.
Large breed pups– They need values of protein between 23-25 percent and fat between 12-15 percent.
Small breed pups– These ones need more protein and fewer fats. Proteins required a range from 22% to 29% and 8-14% for fats.
Small Dog Breeds Nutritional Needs
Small dogs’ metabolism rates are very high, they also have really small tummies. Also, they grow more rapidly and reach adulthood in as early as a year.
They need diets that produce high levels of energy in small frequent doses. They often require 2-3 meals everyday as adults.
Toy breeds sometimes develop hypoglycemia it they stay too long before their next meal.
Large Dog Breeds Nutritional Needs
Physically speaking, large dogs grow rapidly. However, their growth period is far longer than small dogs, reaching maturity somewhere from 18 to 27 months.
This type of growth puts lots of stress upon their still-developing bones. As such, they have certain nutritional needs. So you might have to feed them more of a particular nutrient over others.
However, when they get to adulthood, this would need to be properly moderated. At adulthood, the lack of one nutrition can cause an imbalance in the body and lead to health hazards.
As adults, you’ll need to regulate food properly so they don’t get overweight or obese. You’d also need to regulate their nutrition properly to prevent health issues.
Active Dogs Nutritional Needs
Like you would rightly think, they need foods with high-level calories to provide that extra energy. They also should contain easily digestible fats and proteins.
Dogs With Allergies
If your pup is allergic to something or doesn’t react so well to a particular food type, stop feeding him with it.
There are a lot of hypoallergenic dog foods out there that provide great dog foods for dogs that have sensitive insides. Most times they contain exotic and rare ingredients, most of which dogs aren’t allergic too.
Some of these ingredients include:
- Sweet potatoes
How Much Is Too Much When Feeding My Dog?
The first advice we’ll give you is one that jumps right out of the bag, literally. Follow the recommendations that have been provided to you by the producers on the container of the product.
This recommendation on the container is usually due to the following factors:
- Preferred calorie intake.
This makes the recommendation a fair enough start to how much your dog really needs to eat. Also, it is very important to note that your dog will require more top-quality food than those of lower quality.
Because every dog is unique, your dog would may require a little more or a little less than the recommended amount written on the bag.
What you should do is to find out exactly how much calories your dog needs daily, based on his activities. This will, in turn, tell you how much calories your dog needs to consume per day to balance it out.
You may want to free-feed because you cannot be around to feed him always or for some other reasons. However, free-feeding is not advisable.
Free feeding can lead to obesity if not monitored properly. It can also lead to other issues such as:
- Food hoarding.
- And picky eaters.
It is better to divide his every day calorie needs by the number of meals he should have per day. Then set down his bowl at those set times. Leave it in his bowl for about 15 minutes. After that, take it away even though he hasn’t finished it.
Also, be careful to watch the way he eats. If he leaves his bowl unfinished after every meal then you should probably reduce the amount. On the other hand, if he rushes through it in less than 3 minutes, he might need a little more.
However, if you’re on a strict diet and can’t give him any more, try switching up the food so they have lesser calories and more quantity.
Pups are like kids. They’ll often change eating habits as they mature so you have to grow with them. This dog food guide will enable you to be ready for that time. Also, be ready to have patience with him while finding out his favorite food.