Some Facts About Dog Food
Because we love our dogs we want to give them the best life has to offer, starting with their food. But with so many options available in the market, it isn’t always easy to identify which food is the best for our dog. Who can possibly feel confident when so many brands trumpet buzzwords, such as “rich in antioxidants,” “all natural,” “Omega-3 fatty acids” and “superfood bits”?
A smart and informed shopper needs to conduct a simple product comparison to determine which dog food will best fit our dog’s requirements. You also will want to pay attention to how much time you will need to spend preparing your pet’s food. It’s easy to overlook the fact that some foods offer much greater convenience than the more natural, less processed types of food. Homemade dog foods are an example of foods that will require quite a bit of time to prepare.
The best food to give your dog depends not on the brand, but rather on your dog’s age and any special requirements he might have. Older dogs will require food containing a careful balance of protein, fat and fiber. Younger dogs have different needs and their foods need to be designed to address this. Most commercial dog food companies address these needs with offerings such as senior dog food, containing about 18 % protein, and food for dogs diagnosed with renal failure, containing about 14% protein.
Comparing Dry Dog Foods
A majority of dog owners will feed their pets dry dog food. With both supermarkets and specialty pet stores stocking large varieties of pet foods, owners enjoy many brands to choose from. Most dry dog foods consist of kibble, typically made from one primary ingredient such as chicken, beef or lamb as a source of protein. The main ingredient is usually a meat product that’s been processed, dried and sold in packs or bags for easy dispensing. Some dog foods use meat byproducts, a much less expensive ingredient. Be careful of foods with byproducts. They usually have more empty calories and add no nutritional value to the mix.
There are some definite health advantages to feeding a hard kibble to your pet. Chewing it gives your dog’s mouth some exercise and helps saliva production. Kibble also is helpful in slowing the build-up of tartar on your dog’s teeth and will help with fresh breath.
As you are comparing brands, remember that there are essentially two types of dry dog food on the market: premium dog food and economy dog food. Many pet owners will avoid purchasing the budget food, even though the price can be dramatically lower. Most economy dog foods are made from lower grade ingredients (for example, most will substitute cheap corn or wheat for the more expensive meat or fish). This means that your dog won’t absorb many nutrients, they simply pass the food through their bodies. Not only is your dog getting less nutrition, they will produce larger stools and be prone to more stomach issues. What money you may have saved on food will soon be eaten up by more visits to the vet.
Canned And Semi-Moist
Two other categories of dog food include semi-moist and wet canned food. Many owners like to mix in some canned food with dry food, it adds variety to their dog’s meals. Also, canned foods tend to have a higher concentration of vitamins and nutrients, giving your dog some extra benefits.
Semi-moist food has the attraction of convenience and dogs love it. The downside to this food is it may cause dental problems and worse in the long term. Semi-moist food is loaded with corn syrup and other sugars, and dogs just aren’t designed to process either. Another problem is that semi-moist food gets stuck in the dog’s teeth and can lead to bad breath and gum disease.
In the last few years, premium dog food has been introduced to the market. Usually these foods will have higher quantities of quality, nutritious ingredients. Some use only human-grade ingredients, although this can become expensive. Healthy vegetables, fruits, real meat and quality grains are usually the primary protein source in the high quality premium dog foods. Not only is there a greater concentration of vitamins and nutrients, there is more attention paid to the overall health of your dog. You may notice a healthy skin and beautiful fur soon after you start feeding your pet a premium food. Almost all premium foods contain no artificial coloring and preservatives, but are chock-full of vitamins and minerals instead.
Premium foods cost more than the more generic discount dry dog foods and usually they will be healthier for your dog. Some discount or economy foods have excellent ingredients, you need to pay close attention to the label. If there are no grain fillers and real meat, fish or chicken is the number one source of protein, you have found a good food for your dog. It just requires a bit of research to find the best food and the best value.