Since your dog can’t go shopping or read labels, it’s up to you to make good, sound decisions about your dog’s diet. This guide will teach you what to look for next time you’re cruising the dog food aisle.
With so many options available, choosing the right bag can seem like a daunting task. Just remember: Your dog will love you no matter which one you pick. Perhaps the best way to sort through your options is to ask your veterinarian which brands and/or formulas they recommend for you. Falconbridge Animal Hospital Veterinarians recommend these dog food brands: (Grocery Store) Purina and Iams; (Pet Store) Natural Balance.
2) Understand That There Are Different Feeds For Different Needs
Even if you select an ideal food for your dog today, his nutritional needs can change over the course of a lifetime:
Consider your dog’s size. Many brands offer foods that are formulated specifically for the needs of growing puppies. If your puppy falls into the large or giant breed category, it’s important that you select a food designed for large breed puppies. These formulas usually include altered calcium and phosphorus levels to accommodate the rapid growth of larger dogs.
Manage disease with diet. Certain types of diseases can be managed using food prescribed by your veterinarian. For example, low protein diets are often prescribed for dogs with kidney disease.
Combat the aging process. Older dogs, like older humans, may need nutritional supplements to feel their very best. Dog foods formulated for senior dogs often have higher levels of antioxidants and glucosamine to fight inflammation and support joint functioning for dogs with arthritis.
3) Don't Over-Treat
Treats can be a huge ally during the training process, but don’t overdo it. Too many treats can lead to canine obesity, a condition that often results in diabetes, high blood pressure, and orthopedic problems – all of which will greatly shorten your dog’s lifespan.
Feeding your pup table scraps, much like being too generous with the treats, poses the risk of adding unnecessary calories to your dog’s diet. Contrary to popular belief, treats and scraps rarely “fill the gaps” in a dog’s diet. Instead, these extra morsels often lead to an even greater nutritional imbalance. In addition, many dogs are allergic to human foods, which can give them itchy skin or ear infections. If you must indulge your begging pet, we recommend healthy treats like raw carrots or green beans.
5) Consult Your Veterinarian About Homemade Diets
While homemade diets have their advantages, like the ability to tailor meals to fit your dog’s specific needs, it’s best to develop a homemade diet under the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist. Seemingly minor substitutions in a dog food recipe can result in a diet that’s unbalanced, nutritionally deficient, or, even worse, toxic to your dog.
Not only do raw diets pose the same risks as homemade diets in terms of being potentially unbalanced or nutritionally deficient, but raw diets run a higher risk of food borne contamination like salmonella. What’s more, tiny fragments of raw bone can puncture your doggie’s digestive tract. Ouch!
As always, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before making any radical changes to your dog’s diet.
Reference: Veterinary Team Brief: Canine Nutrition 101 - Choosing the Right Food for Your Dog