Good health and longevity start with good nutrition. The educated dog owner will strive to provide a diet that is nutritionally balanced. A diet that offers the proper nutrition he needs for good muscle tone and body condition. One that supports skin, coat and hair health, proper digestion, as well as immunity and disease prevention.
Although any of the below diets can be purchased at a low price, the ingredients and nutritional value would be compromised. Let’s take a look at each one, starting with what an acceptable, healthy dog food choice would look like, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Kibble is simply ground, processed feed in the shape of pellets. A superior quality kibble would be one that is formulated with vitamins, minerals and other scientifically proven ingredients that work together to support the digestive and immune systems. It would be free from corn, wheat, soy and gluten for dogs with allergies. Key ingredients to look for would be:
- A higher percentage of protein coming from real meat for sustainable energy
- Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, and Vitamin E to support beautiful skin and coat
- Highly digestible, nutritionally balanced food that requires less intake, and produces minimal stool
- Although a commercial, dry dog food is certainly not my first choice, it is, however, convenient for those with a hectic schedule. You CAN make it healthier by adding a simple assortment of vegetables to their food a few times a week for amazing benefits! Check out Rodney Habib’s article on adding Human Food to your dog’s kibble for more info.
- Easy to store in a container, or travel with
- Many budget-friendly brands to choose from
- Puppy, adult, senior or health requirement formulas available
- Cheap kibble available, but lacks nutritional value
- Dishonest packaging designed to lure the consumer into buying their food
- Frequent product recalls due to processing errors
- Multi-billion dollar a year industry compromising your dog’s nutrition for profit
- Lower priced, unknown brands of kibble have been known to contain questionable ingredients such as preservatives, carrageenan, propylene glycol, chemicals, corn syrup, food dyes, remains of dead animals, and artificial sweeteners, just to name a few.
It’s no secret that canned food is quite often more palatable than a dry kibble. What dog wouldn’t choose the mouth-watering aroma of a freshly opened can over dry?! Wet food can actually be superior to dry in that it offers higher meat protein, natural fats, and fewer carbohydrates. What you won’t find are synthetic preservatives, artificial flavorings or coloring. Key ingredients to look for would be:
- The protein content of about 43% including meat and eggs
- The fat content of about 29%
- Estimated carbohydrates of 20% including sweet potatoes, potato starch, and peas
- Soluble fiber/omega 3 fatty acid such as flax-seed meal
- Vitamins and minerals
- Good source of hydration
- Good for dogs with missing teeth, jaw issues or illness
- Long shelf life (1-3 yrs)
- More expensive
- Must be refrigerated after opening, and used within a couple days
- Can cause dental problems if teeth not cleaned regularly
- Low-calorie content means a large dog would have to consume several cans daily for proper nutrition and to maintain ideal weight
A homemade diet is one that is cooked and prepared at home, from ingredients you would use in your own diet. You would, therefore, avoid feeding commercially processed dog foods. If done correctly, it can be a very beneficial and nutritionally balanced diet. If done incorrectly, however, there can be devastating consequences to your dog’s health.
There are many reasons why one might decide to feed their dog a homemade diet. Let’s take a look at a few of them below:
- Controversy and fear surrounding frequent commercial pet food recalls
- Individualized, nutritional needs of an ailing dog
- Wanting to know exactly what your dog is eating without any hidden ingredients
- More variety of ingredients
- Can be more nutritious
- Fresh, and free of preservatives
- More palatable
- Can easily be nutritionally unbalanced
- The danger of feeding ingredients unsafe for dogs
- Can be expensive
- Inconvenient and time-consuming
- Short shelf life with refrigeration or freezing required
You can also get in-depth information on my post specifically about fresh, homemade food at Homemade Dog Food and Why it’s Best for your Dog
Raw fed diet
A raw fed, also known as the BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diet is just that…RAW! These diets consist of a wide range of raw meats, bones, veggies, and supplements. This diet can be a very beneficial one if prepared correctly. Like the above home cooked diet, they need to be nutritionally balanced. For example, the recommended percentages for preparation would be 70-75% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ and 5-10% veggies. Other vitamin supplements would be added as needed.
You can choose to prepare this diet at home, or purchase freeze-dried or frozen patties commercially, which would meet all your dog’s nutritional needs.
Many people believe this to be a more “natural” diet, mimicking what their ancestors eat out in the wild. Although it may be what’s best for them, it may not necessarily be what’s best for our domesticated dogs.
- Healthier skin and coat
- Cleaner teeth
- Higher energy
- Stronger immune system/better overall health
- Better digestion
- Smaller/fewer stools
- The danger of bacteria and salmonella from raw meats
- Because of the time it takes to prepare raw meals, they can easily become nutritionally unbalanced
- The possibility of bones causing choking, internal perforation or broken teeth
- Expensive and time-consuming
So what kind of food DO you feed Fido?? SO many diets to choose from! You’ll want to feed the food that is best for YOUR dog. The food that not only suits their special needs but also yours as their owner. Whichever diet you choose to feed, make sure it is the healthiest version it can be. I’ve given you a few ideas above to help get you started!
Please feel free to leave any comments you might have about my post below. Maybe you have a special diet you feed your dog? Would love to hear about it! 🙂
Be sure to check out my website at http://www.healthyeatingdog101.com for more information on feeding your dog a healthy diet, including treats!