Help ensure a long, healthy life with appropriate diets.
Good nutrition is important to keep the human body healthy, and the same goes for dogs. Without a good diet, your dog is prone to a number of health issues, some of which can be serious.
You know you need to give your dog a quality food, but how do you choose from the many brands and types available at pet supply stores? The sheer volume of options can be daunting.
The key to choosing the right dog food is to educate yourself first on what your dog needs. Start by looking at his age. The dietary requirements of a puppy are different from those of a senior dog.
Young puppies need more protein than full-grown dogs, so you should start your young dog off with a food made especially for puppies. When your dog reaches 6 months of age, you can start switching him to a diet for adult dogs. Senior dogs need less calories than they did when they were young, so a senior diet might be in order for your older dog.
When it comes to choosing the brand, you should feed your dog the best food you can afford. That means spending money on a premium brand if you can. The highest quality brands are sold in pet supply stores, and list a meat protein source—such as beef, chicken or lamb—as the first ingredient on the label. Dogs are meat eaters and do best on a diet that is meat-based.
Some dog owners take the meat-based concept even further by feeding their dogs grain-free dog food. These foods list a meat source as the first ingredient and contain vegetables, but no cereal grains (vegetables take the place of grains as a binding agent). For dog owners concerned about food allergies in their dogs, a unique protein diet can be a particularly good choice.
Several years ago, several dog food companies purchased many of their main ingredients from China. Though this can reduce the price of the food, many pet owners are not comfortable with these brands. Particularly after the 2007 pet food recall, where thousands of pets died from renal failure after consuming pet food contaminated with toxic wheat gluten that originated in China. The solution for many dog owners has been to stick with diets that are strictly U.S.-sourced and made, although foods from Canada, New Zealand and Europe are increasingly in popularity.
Once you choose a brand that fits both your criteria and your wallet, the next decision is dry vs. wet. Dry food is less expensive than wet and more convenient. Most dogs prefer wet food, however, and wet can be the best choice for picky eaters. Some dog owners opt to give a combination of dry and wet to help save money while also making meals more enjoyable for their dogs.
Before you choose a dog food for your canine companion, it’s always a good idea to discuss your options with your dog’s veterinarian. Your vet can help you pick the best diet to suit your dog’s individual needs.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and www.hollywoodhoofbeats.net