How To Choose The Right Dog Food To Optimize Your Dog's Health

PetsDogs

  • Author Jonh Lee
  • Published December 30, 2019
  • Word count 1,219

There are so many dog foods on the market it can be a little tricky to know what is the best dog food for your canine. There are a few factors to consider when thinking about Fido's dietary needs including his age, his size, his breed, any medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity, your budget, and any other personal preferences such as natural or organic dog food. How to choose the right dog food? Read on for some handy hints.

Labels and Ingredients.

These days in most countries the ingredients of the dog food have to be printed on the label. Your dog needs a diet high in quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Ambiguous words like meat-meal can mean almost anything and are often euphemisms for animal leftovers and by-products such as skin, hooves, and the like, which your dog will have problems digesting.

Labels list ingredients in order of weight, so the first ingredient will be the one with the largest percentage in the food. A good quality dog food will list meat or protein, such as fish or eggs, as the first ingredient. Be wary of foods that list meat-meal, corn or wheat, as the primary ingredient.

Age of dog.

The age of your dog is probably the most important consideration, as dogs have varying nutritional requirements at various times of life. Puppies need mushy high-calorie foods, while senior dogs require fewer calories. Many senior dogs are starting to lack some teeth, so softer and smaller foods become easier for them to handle.

The age of your dog will also determine how many times per day he will need feeding. Most breeders will give you a list with your puppy's dietary requirements but here is an approximate guide:

  • 6-8 weeks old. These puppies need feeding 3-4 times daily with high-quality food containing calcium, protein, and plenty of calories.

  • 2 months. Some breeds can now be reduced to 2 feeds per day. If in doubt consult your breeder or vet.

  • 3-6 months. Puppies in this age group need 2 meals daily. The emphasis should still be on quality.

  • 6-12 months. Your puppy still needs puppy food until at least his first birthday. Some larger breeds need puppy food for a considerable time longer. Generally, after 9 months of age, you can switch to 1 meal daily. Check with your vet as to whether this a suitable plan for your own dog. Some owners prefer to feed their dogs 2 meals daily for life, to reduce the risk of bloat. These dogs should have their dietary requirements assessed and then split in 2 to avoid overfeeding and obesity-related issues.

Amount to feed.

The amount you feed your dog will be dependent on the age, level of activity, size, gender, and whether or not they are overweight. A pregnant or lactating female will have her very own dietary requirements, which your vet will be able to assist you with.

If you are unsure whether your dog is being underfed or overfed consult your vet. A quick visual should give you some ideas. If your dog has a waist they are in the correct range. If their ribs are protruding they are too thin.

Most dog foods list a rough guide as to the amount your breed of dog would require. You will then need to consider whether Fido runs 5 miles daily, or can't get off the floor, as to whether he would need more or less.

As an approximate guide, a small dog like a Yorkie or Chihuahua, weighing less than 10 pounds, would need between 1/3 to one full cup of dried food daily.

A dog weighing between 25-50 pounds, such as a Beagle, would consume between 2.25 to 3.75 cups of dried food daily.

A Labrador or Golden retriever would require 3.75 to 5 cups of dried food daily.

Mastiffs and Great Danes will be eating you out of house and home, with a whopping 5 to 8 cups of dried food daily.

Organic and natural dog food.

Many dog food experts claim that natural and organic dog foods provide many health benefits for your dog. The main health advantages appear to be:

  • Shinier coat.

  • Less digestive upsets, and a better ability to absorb more nutrients out of the food.

  • Fewer allergies.

  • Reduction in "doggy breath".

  • Increased energy.

  • Whole grains, oats, and barley are generally used as fillers instead of corn, wheat, and artificial products, which many dogs have problems and allergies too.

You are going to pay more for these organic foods so you should ensure that they are certified organic. Various choices include organic grass-fed bison, and organic chicken, turkey, and beef.

Homemade dog food.

Homemade dog food is always going to be a great alternative for those who are not time challenged as you will know exactly what your dog is eating. Better still, homemade food can also be a lot more cost-effective as most leftovers are suitable foods for Fido. There are a few exceptions including potato skins, onions, chocolate (which is poisonous to dogs), and milk (which gives many dogs diarrhea). Garlic is a great addition to both boosting immunity and helping with the eradication of fleas.

Homemade food can consist of vegetable stocks, soups and perhaps even meat on sale from the grocery shop. Eggs are always a great addition as a high-quality protein that dogs can metabolize. Let's not forget that dogs are traditionally scavengers so there is absolutely nothing wrong in feeding them your sensible leftovers. Additionally, by feeding your dog this way he will be reaping the benefits of a varied diet.

Whole grains, brown rice, oats, and pasta can all be used to bulk out the meal.

Diabetic dog food.

The diabetic dog requires a diet high in both fiber and complex carbohydrates to gain better control of the blood glucose levels. Diabetic dogs need to be fed a pretty consistent diet to ensure there are no huge fluctuations in the blood sugar levels, which in turn affects the amount of insulin needed. The diabetic dog is better fed dry food as it will generally contain more fiber. There are many commercial and vet supplied diabetic dog foods to select from.

The diabetic dog will be fed at strict times in accordance with the vet. These times will revolve around the dog's insulin injections. Any questions or issues concerning diabetic dogs are best raised with your vet.

Dog food storage and hygiene.

  • Dried dog food should be kept in the original packaging and then enclosed in an air-proof container. This will stop humidity affecting the food, and will also ensure that you are not feeding the local rodents.

  • Your dog's water supply should be changed daily.

  • Water and food bowls should be cleaned on a regular basis. Stainless steel bowls are great for ease of cleaning.

  • When preparing dog meals using raw meats, you need to be particularly careful to adequately wash your hands and equipment when finished. Raw meats can carry Salmonella, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning, which is easily transmissible from hands and work surfaces.

Conclusion.

Selecting the right dog food for Fido is based on many factors including breed, size, age, activity levels, medical conditions, budget, and personal preferences. A good quality dog food will label meat as the primary ingredient. Dog foods listing fillers such as corn, wheat, or meat-meal as the major ingredient should be avoided.

Jonh Lee is a life-long animal lover, a freelance writer for 86pets.net; It is a pet world where connecting pet owners with trusted pet care resources.

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