A healthy life for your dog begins with the food they eat. It is important that they get a healthy diet that can sustain your dog's unique dietary needs. Our Rock Springs vets discuss all the aspects of how to choose the best food for your dog.
How To Determine What The Best Food For Your Dog Is
While each dog has their own health requirements in general a dog is not a pure carnivore. Dogs can benefit from some non-meat ingredients for the extra minerals and vitamins, but the bulk of their diet should be meat.
There are vegan options available but if this is something you are interested in consult your veterinarian about it. This dietary plan may not be suitable for your breed of dog.
There are also diets that involve not using commercially produced dog food but feeding them raw meat and vegetables that are human food grade. This takes more work and you should consult your veterinarian if this is an option you wish to explore.
The more common diets involve commercially produced wet or dry dog food. If you are trying to pick a dog food the best thing you can do is to look at the label. Check the label for information on what is in the product. Meat should be a main ingredient.
Another way to tell if it's one of the better options is to look for an endorsement by the AAFCO. It will appear on the packaging similar to the following “(Name of product) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles”. The AAFCO will not tell you it is the best food but it will at least guarantee that they meet the minimum requirements for most dogs.
What Stage Of Life Is Your Dog In?
The age of your dog affects the nutritional requirements of your dog.
Puppies should be provided with a specialized puppy blend dog food. Some puppies will be fine with a food label ‘for all a stage of life’ but it is best to consult your veterinarian about your specific puppy.
Senior dogs are normally dogs that are 7+ years old. Often less active, their weight needs to be monitored more so does their diet.
What Is The Size & Breed Of Your Dog?
If your dog is a big breed variety they will need a diet that is rich in nutrients that will help support their large skeleton and muscles.
If your dog is a smaller breed then the choice of food is more often to do with avoiding choking hazards. Small hungry dogs can choke on kibbles made for larger dogs.
It is best to pick a food made for the size of your dog.
The Difference Between Wet Dog Food & Dry Dog Food
Dog owners want to know which is best for their dog, dry or wet. Sadly it is not that simple. Each food can be good or bad depending on the specific food.
The best way to pick is normally asking yourself ‘which one will my dog eat’ . Some dogs are picky while others will eat whatever is in front of them. The second question is lifestyle. Wet food requires refrigeration after opening it. Do you have the facilities to refrigerate the food and will it spoil before your dog actually eats it?
'Natural' Dog Foods
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes regulations for pet food and sets standards for nutrition. Let's start by examining how the term natural is defined by the AAFCO: "a feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not define natural in terms of pet foods and as such relies on the requirement that labels are not false or misleading.
How is the AAFCO definition of 'natural' applied to pet foods?
In states that have adopted the AAFCO regulations, any pet food company marketing their product as natural must comply with the above definition with the exception of added vitamins and minerals, however, this definition is not as all-encompassing as it may sound. Pet parents shopping for the best natural food for their dog need to keep in mind that: Foods that include ingredients that adhere to the above definition are not necessarily safer than foods that include ingredients produced synthetically. The natural food or individual ingredients could have been processed during the manufacturing process and still be labeled as natural. Trace amounts of synthetic compounds may still be found in foods that are considered natural.
Before making any decisions surrounding your dog's diet you should contact your Rock Springs vet for a consultation.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.