What’s Really in Your Dog’s Food?

Our dogs are part of our family and we love them for all the joy they bring us and their unconditional love. We want our dogs to live long, healthy and happy lives. The best way we can help our dogs is to keep up with our dogs’ vet visits and to feed our dogs a healthy diet.

One of the most important purchases you make for your dog is their food. After all, this is the foundation of your dog’s overall health. Of course, you want to provide your dog the healthiest and most nutritious dog food that your dog can also enjoy.

However, with so many different types of dog food on the market, it can be hard to know where to get started. Even further, there is so much information today about what’s good and not good in a dog’s diet that it can make the choice even harder.
The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on what to look for in your dog’s pet food to helping narrow down your search.

Consult your veterinarian
Every dog is different, in not only what he or she likes to eat, but in their genetic make-up. Your dog’s age, breed, lifestyle and overall health each plays a role in not only what your dog should eat, but how much as well. Your dog’s overall medical health is important, also, in determining the best food for your pup.

Your vet is always the best resource to help you determine if a certain type of dog food is a good choice for your particular dog.

Read the dog food labels
All dog food, both wet and dry, are required by the FDA to specify what exactly is in your dog’s food. However, even with their restrictive guidelines, precise ingredients are not always clear.

The label on the brand you are considering is the best place to start. The ingredients are listed by the percentage or amount of the specific ingredient or nutrient that is in your dog’s food. Therefore, pay close attention to the first few ingredients listed.

Make sure that the first ingredient listed in your dog’s food is a protein, such as chicken, duck or beef. If the first ingredient in the dog food is wheat, corn or a meat by-product, or anything but a real specified type of meat, move on to another food.

There should be no fillers, additives, or any ingredient that you can’t pronounce or understand. The dog food with just a few ingredients on the label – not a lengthy list – is the best to purchase.

Nutritional balance is key
The best dog food is a balance of protein, whole grains, and fat. If a particular dog food claims anything more than what the daily requirement is in a dog’s diet, it’s best not to buy it. An excess of any nutrient or vitamin will be naturally eliminated by your dog. Further, an extra dose of anything that isn’t necessary can be hard on your dog’s kidneys and liver.

Grain-free diets are unnecessary
While there has been a recent fad of grain-free diet food, grain-free is not necessarily the best idea for your dog. Grains are an excellent source of carbohydrates for dogs as they can digest and metabolize them more readily as an energy source.

Look for a dog food that has whole grains which, of course, have more nutrients than refined grains. Whole grains will satisfy your dog’s hunger and are easier for your dog to digest. Oats and wheat are good, healthy nutritional whole grains.

Gluten allergies in dogs are very rare, but if your dog has been specifically diagnosed with a gluten allergy, then a grain-free choice might work for your dog.

Ingredients that might be considered risky
The different food ingredients that might have thought to be beneficial in the past have recently been linked to some diseases in dogs. A recent study has claimed that canine DCM, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, has been associated with some dog food that contained peas, potatoes, legumes, lentils, and sweet potatoes. While there is more information necessary and the study is in its early stages, it’s best to avoid any of these ingredients to be on the safe side.

Raw food & high protein diets
While some dog owners swear by raw food diets, there is yet to be a scientific consensus on whether they actually can help dogs. And, of course, there is the risk of salmonella in any type of raw food.

Even a high-protein diet is not ideal for dogs unless advised under a veterinarian’s guidelines. Dogs need healthy grains and carbohydrates for a well-rounded diet.

Organic formulas
While some dog foods claim to be organic, they are not necessarily completely organic, as again, there is still some controversy about the definition of the word. However, the organic-labeled dog food has to at least live up to the human-grade food safety standards, so they are closer to the real thing. Look for the USDA Organic label for healthy food.

While there is a lot of information out there on what is the best type of dog food for your dog, it all comes down to your specific dog, breed, age, and health. However, the better informed you are, the closer you are to making a good, healthy choice.

Article courtesy of https://www.consumersadvocate.org/dog-food