Proper Canine Nutrition is Important
By Brittany Sorgenstein, ABCDT
We all know it’s important to watch what we eat for a number of reasons. As our society becomes even more heath conscious, it’s important to make sure we’re consuming a healthy, balanced diet. However, how much thought do you put in to what you’re feeding your dog?
Just as we do, our dogs have specific nutritional needs and they count on us as responsible dog owners to make sure those needs are met. When choosing a dog food, it’s important to know what your dog’s specific needs are. There are so many different dog foods to choose from and many are specifically formulated for certain health issues and lifestyles.
What Ingredients are in Dog Food?
When choosing a food for your dog, the first thing you should do is read the label. The first ingredient should either be meat or meat meal, such as chicken or lamb meal. It’s important to know that pet food-labeling regulations require the ingredients to be 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 or low-fat diet.
Healthy Diets for Dogs
Grain-free formulas are a popular choice for dog owners looking to replicate a dog’s ancestral diet and reduce potential allergic reactions. For some dogs, certain grains may cause them to develop allergies. In addition, some grains could also be more difficult to digest.
As with any carbohydrate-heavy food, grains could lead to unhealthful weight gain. It’s worth noting that most dry food requires some type of starch to bind the meat ingredients into kibble. Those that don’t contain grains typically use legumes (peas or beans) or potatoes (including sweet potatoes and yams).
RELATED: Foods Dogs Should Not Eat
Another diet that is growing in popularity among dog owners is raw. A raw diet is also a great way to mirror a canine’s 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 is more convenient to store and use as well as cost much less than a raw diet, you’ll need to decide if the pros outweigh the cons for your dog.
Raw Diet Myth
One raw diet myth is that foodborne illness is a big concern. While salmonella and E. coli could be an issue, it’s 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 canine. If your dog is more to you than just a pet (and who’s isn’t?), next time you notice it’s time to refill his food bowl, remember that what you feed him is just as important as what you feed yourself.
Dog Food Adviser