- The first thing you need to know is that every ingredient in your dog food is listed on the bag in descending order. This means that the first ingredient holds the most weight, the second ingredient holds the second highest amount of weight, and so on.
- Meat vs. Meat Meal: For the purpose of this blog, ‘meat’ refers to protein such as Beef, Fish, Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Etc. Avoid anything referred to simply as ‘meat’ on the bag. Meats listed on your dog’s food are weighed prior to the cooking process and contain 60-70% water, therefore they actually weigh less after cooking. Meat meals, although more processed, are cooked before being added to the kibble and thus offer more of a true weight. The very first ingredient should be a meat or meat meal. The more meat and meat meal you have at the top of the list the better.
- Avoid by-products at all costs! These are the internal remains of animals and often include diseased tissue and organs.
- Avoid corn and corn syrup. Corn syrup is a sugar that is used to help make the dog food taste better. Too much sugar can lead to obesity, disease, hyperactivity, and changes in mental behavior. Corn is a very inexpensive filler that has the potential to develop into mold and many dogs have a hard time digesting it properly.
- To grain or not to grain? The first thing to realize is that any dog food containing rice, barley, wheat, oats, or any other cereal grain is a grain product. Should they be avoided? As much as possible, yes, but all kibble contains grains of some kind, so if you are feeding a dry dog food, the less grain the better.
- Grains, corn, and soy cause obesity, diabetes, arthritis, chronic skin infections, allergies, and autoimmune disorders such as dry irritated skin, itchiness, ear infections, yeast infections, hot spots, hives, gastro intestinal upset, and more. If your dog suffers from one or more of these things, consider switching to a new, higher quality dog food.
- Likewise, dogs can have the same averse reactions to meat; the most common being chicken or poultry.
- If you are thinking of switching your dog’s food to one with high levels of meat protein, and your dog’s current list starts with corn, wheat, or soy, you should consider switching gradually to avoid upsetting their gastro intestinal tract. Once on a quality kibble, it is easier to switch between quality brands without having to worry.
- When deciding how much food to give your dog, you should always check the feeding guidelines on the back of the bag and feed based on the weight your dog should be, not the weight your dog is; unfortunately, many dogs are overweight and should be fed less and exercised more. Once this is done, adjust slightly, more, or less, depending on the amount of exercise your dog gets on a daily basis. Some days my dog may get 3 cups, while other days he may get 3.5, it just depends on how active he was that day.
- Before picking out a new brand of food, try looking it up on an unbiased third party review site, such as Dog Food Advisor, for a detailed, in-depth analysis. Some brands that my dogs enjoy include Boreal, Fromm, Now, Acana, and Pulsar.
- Helpful Hint: Just because your vet recommends a food does not mean it is the most healthy option for your dog. Many have appropriate nutrients but lack quality ingredients.
- So why make the change? It is simple, your dog will live a happier, healthier life, and despite the obvious price difference between low and high quality foods, your wallet will thank you in the long run because your dog will require fewer vet visits over his lifetime. Now go grab your dog’s food bag and read the ingredient list!
Are you at your wits end with your dog’s behavior and would like to have control, sanity, and above all else, safety? No matter the age or breed, please contact me, because I promise you, I can help!
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