A deeper look at your dog's food
Updated: May 22, 2020
All of our clients want the best for their dog. Keeping our furry family members happy and healthy is high on our list, if not a top priority. There are lots of different aspects involved in accomplishing this. Daily mental and physical stimulation, proper vet care and a nutritious diet are just a few examples.
But what is a nutritious diet?
A lot of us experience a great amount of confusion when standing in front of the pet food shelf in the average store. Promising slogans, attractive packaging designs and pictures of healthy, happy pups. You would almost believe your pup will become invincible after consuming these foods.
Unfortunately, this is often far from the truth. Lots of commercial dog food brands contain mostly fillers without any nutritional value. Things like corn, soy, meat by-products and artificial preservatives, colors and flavors are the majority of the food's ingredients. There have even been cases where certain dog foods were recalled as they contained low amounts of the drug 'Pentobarbital', which is used to sedate or euthanize animals.
But there's also good news! The amount of people interested in a healthy lifestyle (and proper nutrition) for themselves and their furry family members has been growing, which results in a higher demand for high quality dog food. Because of this, new and existing dog food companies have been establishing higher quality dog foods in different varieties. Dry kibble, canned, freeze dried and even raw dog food is now accessible for most people.
How do I choose a high quality dog food?
First of all, forget the looks of the bag! Turn the bag around and look at the actual ingredients. What's really in it?
A good rule of thumb is to take a look at the first five ingredients of your dog food. Does that contain mostly meat? That's great news! Dogs thrive on a well balanced and nutritious diet. Their main source of nutrition should come from meat and other wholesome ingredients, like fruits and vegetables.
Another way to determine the overall wholesomeness of the food, is looking at the remaining ingredients. Do you recognize most ingredients? What do you know about these ingredients? Do you consider them nutritious? If you are not sure about the answer to any of these questions, try to do your research. If you are still not sure, reach out to a professional (not affiliated with a certain dog food company) and ask for help there. There's lots of people out there (including us!), who would love to help you accomplish your nutrition goals for your pup.
Kibble, canned, freeze dried or raw?
In my opinion, there's advantages and disadvantages to any of these choices. I have listed a few below:
Advantages: Convenient for travel, easy to store, accessible in every pet store.
Disadvantages: Lack of water content, processed at high temperatures.
2. Canned food
Advantages: Easy to store, high water content, accessible in every pet store.
Disadvantages: Faster tartar build up on dog's teeth, has to be stored in fridge once opened, quite a bit of canned food is often needed to meet daily food intake needs.
3. Freeze dried
Advantages: Way less processed than kibble and canned food, convenient for travel, easy to store, easy to rehydrate
Disadvantages: Can be expensive.
Advantages: Fresh food as nature intended, little to no processing.
Disadvantages: Can be expensive, inconvenient for travel as it needs to be cooled or frozen, can be time consuming.
Side note for raw feeding: Do not start feeding your dog raw without a plan and/or proper guidelines. A balanced diet is extremely important and lots of health issues can arise from an imbalanced raw diet. Luckily, nowadays there are lots of companies out there that will ship balanced raw diets right to your door!
Switching your dog to a new food
It's important to gradually switch a dog to a different food, even if you're just switching to another brand within the same type of food. Take a week to switch, starting with most of the current diet and gradually fade it out. This gives you room to introduce the new diet slowly.
My dog won't eat since I switched, what should I do?
This is a question we hear a lot. Quite a few people feed a low quality kibble, just because that's all their dog will eat.
There are a few reasons for this. First of all, low quality dog food often contains added sugar and artificial flavors, which makes it more attractive to your pup. Most of our children prefer chicken nuggets and fries over broccoli, but this doesn't necessarily mean its better for them!
Now, let's take a look at your dog's feeding schedule. How often does your dog have access to food? Are there specific mealtimes or do you free feed (dog has unlimited access to food)? Free fed dogs often lose interest in food and it can take them longer to start eating again after switching. Our recommendation is always: Give your dog meal times!
Another aspect is the amount of food you are feeding. When the amount of food you offer is constantly too much, your dog may lose interest. Try adjusting the feeding amount permanently and see what happens!
Good luck, guys! Feel free to check in with any questions you may have!