Choosing the best food for your dog is difficult, even for the most experienced pet owners. Most dog food labels make extravagant claims on being the best source of nutrition. But are they really? Feeding your dog the wrong food can create lifelong health challenges.
In the market today, you have a choice between dry kibble or canned varieties. Most dog food manufacturers enlist the help of veterinarians and scientists. These elite teams help determine the most nutritious recipes for dogs. The recipes undergo various tests, and each must adhere to strict commercial regulations and contain essential nutrients for your dog.
The right food for your dog depends on many factors. These factors often include your dog’s breed and nutrient requirements. In this post, we take a look at dog food and how to choose the right one for your pet.
Your Dog’s Nutrient Requirements
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are omnivores. This means they eat mostly meat, but they also need other nutrients. Dogs need many of the same nutrients as humans, just in different amounts. For example, dogs need proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Proteins contain up to 22 different amino acids. Dogs make 12 out of these 22 acids inside their bodies. The amino acids not produced by your dog’s body needs to be sourced from the food you choose. A correct balance of amino acids is essential to growth and development.
Like humans, dogs need a small amount of carbohydrates for energy. Protein and fat not used for tissue repair is also converted to energy. For these reasons, the amount of carbohydrates your dog needs is reduced.
Your dog’s body converts fats into energy. Fats provide more than double the amount of energy than an equal amount of protein. These essential fatty acids need to be consumed because your dog’s body does not make them. Deficiencies in these fats can cause long-term illnesses and chronic conditions.
Vitamins and Minerals
One of the most important parts of any diet is vitamins and minerals. Since vitamins and minerals are not made inside the body of your dog, your dog needs to get them from food. Many popular dog food manufacturers fail to create recipes that contain vitamins and minerals. Speak to your veterinarian to determine if your dog may need a supplement.
Identifying the Nutrient Profile of Dog Food
All dog food must pass federal regulations. Wheat and corn fillers help dog food manufacturers meet guidelines. Yet these fillers do little to contribute to your dog’s health.
Labels on commercially produced pet food are confusing and misleading. Manufacturers are only required to include 8 items on the label and can include the following:
- Feeding guidelines
- Breed recommendations
- Guaranteed analysis
- Weight of the product
- Product name
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Statement of nutritional adequacy
These labeling requirements offer valuable information but are often written to produce sales rather than inform. For example, to use the descriptor “beef entrée,” the item is only required to contain 10 percent beef. The guaranteed analysis doesn’t tell you the quality of the ingredients. It also fails to provide information on the origin of byproducts used during production.
The analysis on the label gives the least amount of fat and crude protein as well as most amounts of water. Since this isn’t an exact number, the possibility for variation from meal to meal is high.
When reading most labels, you may not easily discover the actual ingredient list and amounts of each item. Manufacturers break up fillers into several ingredients on the list, providing the false appearance of higher-quality ingredients. For example, you may take home a bag of kibble that has 5 corn ingredients listed, but it likely contains more carbohydrates than the crude protein your dog needs.
Checking the nutrient profile of your dog’s food is essential. Keep in mind that the amount of protein your pet needs will change with time. It is important that the nutrients in the food do the same.
Understanding How Much to Feed Your Dog
Your dog’s breed, age, weight and activity level play key roles in how much you should feed him. These things also have a significant effect on the number of nutrients your dog needs. For example, senior dogs need more protein than their adolescent counterparts. Choosing a food higher in protein for a senior dog helps maintain his quality of life.
Many other factors can cause a change in the amount of protein your pet needs. Active pets and working dogs need more calories and nutrient dense foods. Mother dogs who are feeding a litter of puppies will need more nutrients than those who are not. A dog who is recovering from surgery will need more protein than pets who are healthy.
Nutrients and amount of food to feed your dog depends on your dog, lifestyle and breed. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations on the correct amount of food to feed your dog as well as how often.
How to Choose the Right Dog Food
We’ve covered a host of information in this post that we hope you find beneficial. We have touched on your dog’s nutrient profile and the types of ingredients in most dog food recipes. We also talked about how to determine the best amounts to feed your dog. To ensure your furry companion lives a happy, healthy life, you have to choose the right food. We can help.
All dog food sold in pet stores meet the minimum regulations required. But there a few things to keep in mind such as your dog’s life stage and activity level. Choose a food with a high protein and fat content that is easily digestible.
Most importantly, know your pet. As the best veterinarians in Raleigh we have simplified choosing the right dog food for your furry companion. We stock quality pet food to give you peace of mind. Drop by one of our hospital locations to find the best dog food for your pet. Our brands include Royal Canin and Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Whether you want to maintain your pet’s weight, support dental health, or promote a healthy coat we are ready to help. Drop by the hospital today!