Dog lovers everywhere have had the same question at some point in their furry companions’ life…”What is the best dog food?”
The best dog food is a balanced formula that contains all the nutrients your dog needs to thrive. Healthy dog foods are made primarily of animal protein, vegetables, and whole grains. It is best to avoid foods that contain fillers and industrial by-products, which can encourage weight gain and disease.
Across America, even the world, stores line their shelves with a variety of brands and types of cuisine for your canine. Every dog owner wants their dog to be healthy, active, and live a long life. Looking at what you are putting in them is a logical first step to giving them that.
Don’t base your decision on what you see on the labels or the bestselling brand. Those labels can be misleading. For instance, when you see the word “corn”, you probably think small, yellow, sweet kernels of goodness, right? Wrong. That is not always what you get. The same thing goes for meat.
There are different types of corn used in making dog foods. You have your standard corn, flaked corn, kibbled corn, and ground corn. These all are considered corn when it comes to that label. The most significant difference is quality. If I sold you a can of corn for $1, you would expect the standard off the cob corn. What if you opened that can and found flakes of what at one time was corn? You might feel a little cheated. Essentially it’s still corn, just not what you expected or thought you were going to get. This is just one example of misleading things these companies do.
Meat is another one of those misleading tricks. When listing whole meats on a product, the company is listing the weight of the meat before processing. The process the meat goes through removes a lot of that water weight. They do not change the percentage accurately on the label because of the difficulty calculating it. This means what they say is not what you get.
Look For The Complete and Balanced Label
The main thing you’ll want to look for on labels are the words “complete and balanced.” The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has some pretty strict requirements for labeling. If a company has that phrase on the label, then they are required to have minimal nutritional values for dogs in their product. There is a “guaranteed analysis” they have set in place to make sure minimum amounts of fats and proteins are used along with the maximum amount for water content.
For most of us, we can stop reading the article at this point. As long as you choose a brand that has “Complete and Balanced” on the label, you can rest assured knowing you are feeding your dog healthy food.
However, for those that want to dive a little deeper into this topic – keep reading.
Ingredients That Shouldn’t Be Included
For years I heard everywhere that you shouldn’t get dog food that doesn’t have high fat or specific vitamins. This isn’t exactly true though. A lot of people have the misconception that if it’s healthy for them, then it’s healthy for their pooch.
Some things that are beneficial for us have no benefit for dogs. In fact, some can be downright deadly. Pecans, for example, are an excellent healthy snack for you but are toxic to dogs. Someone had mentioned leeks in dog food. Guess what? Leeks are part of the Allium family, along with onions, garlic, and chives.
These can lead to anemia in dogs. Garlic can even poison your dog. So, don’t follow mainstream ideas and assume because it’s healthy for you, it will be healthy for your dog.
Types of Dog Food
There are a few different types of food; kibble, canned, raw, semi-moist, and home cooked. Wondering what the less obvious differences are? Happy to help. We’ll break down the types with some brief descriptions.
The crunchy, dry food that comes in a bag. It’s in every supermarket and comes in many varieties. According to petfoodindustry.com, 3 out of 10 dog owners buy this weekly. It is the least expensive option.
As the name suggests, this is the canned stuff that resembles a meat paste. It is more expensive than dry food and may contain up to 75 percent water. This means carefully looking over its nutritional value. If it has higher water content, it is going to have fewer nutrients.
That’s right, raw. We aren’t just talking uncooked meat either. It also means raw eggs, vegetables, fruits, and even whole or crushed bones. The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, has information about regulations used for this type located here. There are statements in that FAQ about the benefits and risks of a raw diet. One risk being deadly pathogens. Specifically, pathogens can be passed to the dog’s human.
You know the kind with steak or burger shaped bits. These are the least nutritional for your four-legged friend. About 60 percent of its weight is water, which leaves little nutritional value. They contain artificial colorings, preservatives, and flavor enhancers. They also have a high amount of sugar and salt. They are recommended to be given as treats and not as a dietary component. Think of these as the snacks of the group.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Cooking meals for your dog using healthy ingredients. One of the best things about this is being able to tailor the meal specifically to your dog’s needs. There are plenty of websites that offer recipes, but a veterinarian’s input is a good idea. Keep in mind that you will be solely responsible for your pet’s nutrition.
So What is The Best Dog Food?
Now, which one do you choose? A lot of factors need to be taken into consideration. Research the options thoroughly. If you decide to go with a particular brand, then research their ingredients. Look at what they put in their product. If you don’t know what something is, then find out. You’d be surprised what some popular brands are really made of. You can even reach out to the company itself with any questions you have. Most have a phone number or website on the back label.
With that said, if you are going to go with the most popular option of dry dog food, make sure it has “Complete and Balanced” on the label. If it does, then it passed strict guideline policies.
This has been a lot to take in, hasn’t it? It’s only the tip of the food pile! There are many resources on the internet that gives useful information. It is your right to be informed as a consumer, but it is also a responsibility as a pet owner. Do your research! Find out what’s in that food bag. Talk to your vet about what kind of diet you can put together for Fluffy. Most importantly, use this as a starting point to a healthier pet.
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