A good foundation for your dog's lifelong well-being begins with good food. By providing your dog with a healthy, nutritious diet you can help keep them strong and healthy. Our White Hall vets share some valuable information about the nutritional needs of your dog and what to look for when choosing their food.
Ensuring that your dog is happy and healthy is of the utmost importance for any pet parent. You can build this foundation on a good, nutritional diet along with exercise and routine care. But what type of food does your dog need? And what does all of the information on the labels mean?
The vets at our White Hall animal hospital are here to offer some advice and information about choosing the best food for you dog and what to watch out for.
What are the different types of dog food?
While dog food doesn't have the variety that you may find with your own food, there are still a number of different types to choose from. No matter what food you choose to feed to your dog, you must be sure that it at least meets the nutritional needs of your pup.
Here are some of the most common types of dog food:
- Canned Food
- Semi-Moist Dog Food
- Home Cooked Food
- Raw Dog Food
What are the nutritional needs of dogs?
The size, age and breed of your dog all have an effect on their specific nutritional needs.
If you have a large breed dog then you may want to choose a food that has added vitamins and minerals to help support bone health as large breed dogs commonly experience musculoskeletal issues.
Small breed dogs tend to need smaller-sized kibble as their small mouth and throat make it difficult for them to eat larger-sized kibble, increasing the risk of choking.
Take some time before choosing the food to do some research and determine which food is best for your dog's specific needs.
What food is best for puppies?
If you have a young puppy they will have a specific set of dietary needs that can't be met by standard adult dog food. Luckily, dog food companies usually have a special puppy formula that contains everything that your young pup needs to grow up to be strong and healthy. If you still aren't sure which of these puppy formulas is right for your young dog you can reach out to your vet for some guidance.
You can find dog foo formulas that get even more specific such as puppy food that is specifically made for the size they will be, such as large breed puppy chow. These specialized puppy foods will help to ensure that your puppy gets all of the nutrients it needs and support to help manage any breed-specific concerns as it grows.
What food should senior dogs be eating?
Once your dog is over the age of 7 they will be considered a senior and their nutritional needs will begin to change. Depending on how old your senior dog is they may experience different types of weight issues such as gaining weight when they first enter the senior years and losing weight too quickly as they get even older.
One thing you may not expect is that at this stage you may just need to settle on a food that your dog will eat as they may become much more picky at this age. Your vet at our White Hall veterinary clinic can help you find ways to keep your old dog interested in their meals.
What if your dog has special dietary needs?
Just like you and I, your dog can also experience various dietary restrictions due to sensitivities and health concerns. This can make choosing a food for your dog very difficult. Reach out to your veterinarian in White Hall, AR, to develop a nutritional plan for your dog in these situations.
How to Read the Label on Your Dog's Food
The easiest way to tell if a food will be good for your dog is to read the label. While the label has all of the information you need it might actually be difficult to read everything you need to, especially if you are trying to do so right there in the store. Unfortunately, another issue is that some labels are purposely misleading, making it difficult to tell what the food actually contains. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually monitors dog food and requires the label to provide you with eight key pieces of information. There are also labeling requirements that change from state to state. The 8 main pieces of information that are required on dog food labels are:
- Product name
- Net weight of the product
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Guaranteed Analysis
- List of ingredients
- Intended animal species (i.e. dog or cat)
- Statement of nutritional adequacy
- Feeding guidelines
What can you learn from the product name?
The name of the product is usually the most important source of information about what is in the food itself. If a food says beef in the name, it means that at least 70% of the food product is beef. However, if it says beef dinner, beef entree or anything similar then they are only required to have 10% of the final product containing beef. This carries on with beef and beef flavor to 3% or less. This standard of naming dog foods applies to all flavors across the board.
What should you know about the ingredient list?
The one thing that you cannot learn from the listed ingredients on the can or package of dog food is what the quality is. This means that some companies break up the different types of a single ingredient to have it appear further down the list, even if that ingredient is actually a major part of the formula.
Meat is another area where companies may cut corners as there are differences in meal weight both pre- and post-production.
Even though you may not know whether or not the ingredients are high quality, you will know what each ingredient is. This can be incredibly useful for dog owners who need to watch for certain ingredients due to dietary restrictions.
Dog Foods Labelled as 'Complete and Balanced'
If you are looking at a new brand of dog food, you should first scan the label to look for a statement that says “(Name of product) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.”
This statement is actually used by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to make sure that a product is in fact complete and balanced for dogs (or cats). This means that the food contains the minimum amount of each nutrient need by your dog for a well-balanced diet.
Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food
- Corn Syrup, Xylitol, or Food Dyes
- Meat Meal
- Unhealthy Fats
Ingredients to Look For in Dog Food
- Fats & Fatty Acids
- Vitamins & Minerals
What makes a good dog food?
The most common types of dog food are wet canned food and dry kibble. While we would never consider eating them, they have everything your dog needs to stay healthy. All common dog food brands have gone through extensive testing to ensure that they meet the basic needs of a dog's dietary needs.
Dogs do not only eat meat while they do eat a large amount of meat, their diet is also supplemented by vitamins, minerals and even fiber.
A good dog food will contain meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits. The best dog food for your pup has a well-balanced combination of these made with high-quality ingredients.
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.