There are many different foods with many different ingredients. There are a lot of good foods available but not all foods are good for your individual dog. Always consider your pets’ needs when choosing food.
Dogs Are Not Carnivores
Dogs are omnivores. They can digest plants and animal proteins. Although they like the taste of meat, they can meet nearly all of their nutritional needs from plant sources. Domestic dogs are primarily scavengers. A proper and balanced diet to meet your dog’s macro and micronutrient requirements should include plant and animal sources.
The Ingredient Label
The ingredient list is ordered by weight of the ingredient with the heaviest first. Look for the “meal” ingredient, this is the protein and nutrient source of the food. For example, if your food lists chicken and then chicken by-product meal, the primary nutrient content is coming from chicken by-products.
Grain Free, Gluten free & Raw diet
There is little scientific evidence that raw, grain or gluten free diets are better or worse for our dogs. Whether you choose dry kibble, raw diet, gluten free or grain free, base that decision on the needs of your dog and your personal needs.
Allergies & Intolerance
Food allergens are the third leading cause of allergies in dogs. Symptoms of food allergies include hives, flaky skin, itching, licking, and skin or ear infections. Symptoms of food intolerance are gas, bloating and vomiting. To remedy an allergy or intolerance, switch to a food with different protein and grain sources.
Manufacturers know that adding the words “holistic, natural, healthful, supports immune system”, etc. to their packaging sells food. Pay close attention to the nutrition panel and ignore the marketing. A good food will contain quality ingredients and will contribute the necessary nutrients to his diet.
Obesity in Dogs
Obesity is a serious health risk. You should be able see a narrowing between his ribs and hips, and easily feel his rib bones without pushing. Return to a healthy weight by reducing his daily caloric intake and increase his exercise regimen. “Diet” dog food is not necessary to lose weight.
By-products, Corn, Wheat, Soy
By-products cannot be meat. Chicken by-products are the heads, feet and entrails of the chicken. By-products do contribute protein and calories to the food but should be considered a poor quality ingredient. Corn is frequently added to dog food because it is an inexpensive source of protein. Corn will be listed on the ingredient panel in many forms from ground corn to corn gluten meal. Dogs do not require corn in their diet; it should be considered a poor quality ingredient. Like corn, wheat and soy do provide nutrients to the food but should also be considered an indicator of poor quality. These ingredients are common allergens.
Look for foods that contain higher quality carbohydrates such as potatoes, barley, millet and peas.
Chicken vs. Chicken Meal
There is a difference. “Chicken” is the fresh or frozen meat, including the water content (sometimes 70%). “Chicken Meal” is the same chicken meat with it’s water removed. Pound for pound, you are getting more protein and nutrients from chicken meal than you get from chicken.
The True Cost of Food
The true cost of food cannot be determined by the label on the shelf. Compare the price per pound of food and then check the label to see the calories by weight, not by the cup. For example, a food that has 3800 kcal/kg is more calorie dense than one that is 3100 kcal/kg. You will require less of the first food to meet your dog’s caloric needs.