Choosing the Right Food for Your Dog
Dogs. They're your best friend. They're the ones who drive you insane but you still love the crap out of them anyway. And they love you. Unconditionally. Forever. So isn't the kind of food you're feeding to them important? Surprisingly, a lot of people don't believe it is. In fact, as a former employee of Petsmart, I used to hear people come in everyday and complain about all the different choices of dog food that the company carries. They'd make a comment about how the foods are all the same and then they'd walk out the door with the cheapest bag. But the truth is not all dog food is the same. Some if it is actually very bad for your dog. In this article I won't tell you what food you should buy or mention any specific brands but I will give you a few tips to aid in the search for the right food for your furry best friend.
Meat Should Always Be the First Ingredient
While dogs can eat plant material, evidence shows that they are carnivores and as such, it's much easier for them to digest meat. But beware, just because meat is the first ingredient doesn't mean it has a lot of meat in it. Usually, ingredients are weighed before they are processed so the weight of the meat is actually much less after processing. Also, always look for specifically named animals, such as lamb or chicken meal. Seeing a generic "animal fat" is a red flag because that meat could've come from anywhere (including roadkill or a bunch of different animals from leftover products at slaughterhouses). Bottom line: if meat is not the first ingredient then it is likely a food with lots of filler plant materials that have little to no nutritional value for your pet.
Know What Preservatives Are Being Used
Generally dog foods will list what preservatives were used along with the ingredients. Some preservatives are very harmful to your dog, such as BHA and BHT, which are known carcinogens. Your dog food should be preserved with natural preservatives, like tocopherol.
Know Your Dog's Specific Needs
Dogs have different needs based on their breed, lifestyle, and age. For example, large breed dogs should have glucosamine in their diet because it helps prevent the hip and joint problems that are common in large dogs. Puppys also need specially formulated foods to help stabilize growth patterns and to help with development. You should research your dogs specific needs in order to find the right food.
Always make sure to research a food before giving it to your dog: know the ingredients, know the preservatives, know any recalls on the food, and read about other people's experience with the food. Don't believe everything on the bag. Just like human food companies, dog food companies spin the truth too. For example, some dog food companies claim that their food is made in the U.S., but most of the ingredients are sourced from a different country.
If you switch your dogs food, make sure to do it gradually (over a period of 10 days is what is usually recommended.) If you don't do this, your furry friend could have an upset stomach for a few days. Diarrhea after switching foods is pretty common, but if it lasts for more than a week you should stop giving your dog that food and consider seeing a vet. Your dog might have an allergy. Another sign of an allergy is a rash, usually forming on the dogs underbelly.
Good luck to you and your pet on your journey to find the best food!
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© 2016 Danielle Hussey