How can you find the best dog food for your dog? Especially if you suspect the one you’re using isn’t it?
Debra (not her real name) asked herself that question as she walked down the aisles of her neighborhood pet supply store. Her twin Beagles’ coats had lost their glow, and she wasn’t at all sure they were getting all the nutrients they needed from their kibble.
She’d heard pros and cons on all kinds of dog foods. One article she’d read had reported that raw food gave dogs more energy and dissipated that foul doggie odor she loathed.
Another had said kibble was good for the teeth, but a guest on her favorite radio pet show had said it contributed to tooth decay.
She saw low-fat dog foods on the store shelf. But she’d read that fat in the food didn’t translate to fat on the body. If that was so, what was the point of buying low-fat dog food?
There was so much contradictory information, it was confusing. How could anybody make sense of it all?
Perhaps you can relate to Debra’s dilemma. How can you identify the best dog food for your dog?
Here’s the truth: Because every dog is different, and every family situation is unique unto itself, no one dog food is suited to every dog.
In choosing a food for your dog, you need to consider a variety of factors, including:
- The health quality of the food
- Your dog’s age and condition
- Your dog’s willingness to eat it
- Your own needs with respect to prep time, dog odor, and feeding schedule.
As far as the quality of the food is concerned, here are some basic things you need to know:
Canned, kibbled, and semi-moist dog foods are cooked, often at high temperatures. This lowers their nutrient value, including their protein content—a primary consideration in dog diets. This is true across the board, even in the most expensive processed foods.
If a processed food name contains words like “Dinner,” “Entree,” or other such qualifiers, it probably contains very little meat and a lot of grain. Watch out. Many dogs have grain sensitivities, especially to wheat. The best dog foods contain no grain at all.
Furthermore, the less expensive processed dog foods often contain less desirable animal parts and sometimes even harmful additives. But they are easy to serve up, and often sprayed with rancid fats that taste good to dogs but are likely to lead to serious health problems down the line.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. But not always. You have to read the label. And you have to know what to look for.
I know of one brand of frozen pasteurized dog food, cooked only enough to kill all the natural bacteria, with a higher protein content and more nutrients than any regular processed food I’ve seen. It is packaged frozen, and only available at specialty stores. It is also very expensive.
If you’re looking for the most nutritious dog food, you will find it in frozen raw dog food. Since it has not been cooked, raw food has the highest protein and vitamin content of all dog foods on the market.
Rumor has it that a good raw food is expensive. Not necessarily. I buy an outstanding frozen raw food for about half the cost of the pasteurized food and not a cent more than what I consider a barely decent processed food. Like the pasteurized food, you have to go to a specialty store to find it.
Raw dog food smells better than the pasteurized or processed foods. Our dog has been eating raw (except for table scraps her master gives her) for three months now. She used to have an awful odor, but no more.
You can also purchase dehydrated raw dog food. I tried it, but our doggie doesn’t like it.
Our vet agrees that raw is an excellent solution for most dogs IF you have the presence of mind to remember to thaw it in advance in the refrigerator and wash your dog’s dish between feedings to avoid bacterial contamination.
(Poor hygiene habits are the reason many vets recommend processed or pasteurized food over raw dog foods.)
Last but certainly not least, you can make your own dog food. If you use the right combination of top quality ingredients this may actually be the best, since you know exactly what went into it. A great solution if you’re retired or don’t have to meet a demanding schedule.
No matter what form of food you feed, make sure it contains some vegetables and fruits. Unlike cats, dogs are not true carnivores. In the wild they are scavengers, and will eat just about anything. They need their vegetables and fruits, which wild dogs get from eating the stomachs of their prey.
When I’m not pressed for time, I chop up some greens – a little chard or spinach, for example–and put it into our dog’s food. This is especially important if your dog is having constipation problems. And when I’m in a hurry, I buy wheat grass tablets at the health food store and mix one into our dog’s food. (Thanks to Kim St. Claire, dog healer extraordinaire, for suggesting this to me!)
There are so many creative things you can to to insure your pet’s healthy diet. And, if you’re in business, there are lots of things you need to be aware of to assure the health of your business. If you are a professional looking to make a bigger impact and (as a by-product of that) expand your income to bring you the life you dream of, a Pet Writes membership will show you how you can use your pet stories to do that. Get started today with the Pet Writes 7-Day Trial.
Chiwah Carol Slater
The Pet Story Passionista
Word Weaver Chiwah
Founder, PetWrites.com, WordWeaver4U.com