We all know it is important to watch what we eat for a number of reasons. As our society becomes even more heath conscious, it is important to make sure we are consuming a healthy, balanced diet. However, how much thought do you put in to what you are feeding your four-legged friends? Just as we do, our pets have specific nutritional needs, and they count on us as responsible owners to make sure those needs are met.When choosing a dog food, it is important to know what your dogís specific needs are. There are so many different dog foods to choose from and many are specifically formulated for certain health issues and lifestyles (active, senior, puppy, etc.).
What Ingredients Are In The Dog Food?
When choosing a food, the first thing you should do is read the label.The first ingredient should be meat or meat meal, such as chicken or lamb meal. It is important to know that pet-food-labeling regulations require that the ingredients are listed in descending order by weight; however, if three ingredients are present in equal amounts, the manufacturer can list them in any order as long as they are the first three ingredients on the label. You can also look at the percentages of crude protein, fat and fiber listed under the Guaranteed Analysis panel if your dog requires a high-protein and/or low-fat diet.
Grain-free formulas are a popular choice for pet owners looking to replicate a dogís ancestral diet and/or reduce potential allergic reactions. For some dogs, certain grains might cause them to develop allergies. In addition, some grains could also be more difficult to digest and as with any carbohydrate heavy food, could lead to unhealthful weight gain. It is worth noting that most dry food requires some type of starch to bind the meat ingredients into kibble and those that donít contain grains typically use legumes (peas or beans) or potatoes (including sweet potatoes and yams).
Another diet that is growing in popularity among pet owners is raw. This is also a great way to mirror a dogís ancestral diet. As with grain-free, a raw diet can have many benefits, including improved digestion, healthier skin and coat, weight management and a reduction in allergic reactions. While dry dog kibble can be a more convenient to store and use, and can cost much less than a raw diet, you will need to decide if the pros outweigh the cons for your pet.
Raw Diet Myth
One raw diet myth is that food-borne illness is a big concern. While salmonella and E. coli could be an issue, it is much more likely for humans to be affected by these illnesses than dogs., As with human raw food, you can dramatically lower your risks with proper handling.There are many knowledgeable employees at pet food stores who can help you decide which diets are right for your four-legged friend. If your pooch is more to you than just a pet (and whoís isnít), next time you notice it is time to refill Fidoís food bowl, remember that what you feed him is just as important as what you feed yourself.By Brittany Sorgenstein, ABCDTSources: Naturalpet.com; Dogfoodadvisor.com
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