Here’s a loaded question for you. What is a healthy dog food diet? All you have to do these days is go to the pet food section of your favorite grocery or pet store and you’ll discover that there are a lot of different opinions on what is considered a healthy dog food. With all the different types of dog foods being manufactured, with formulas meant to provide optimum nutrition and health benefits for puppies, adults, obese and sick dogs, it’s a rather complicated maze to navigate. However, there are some basic guidelines that can help with this a great deal.
The Many Different Categories
When it comes to a healthy dog food diet, there are two main options. You have home-prepared and commercial products. There are also sub-categories within each of these categories. For example, the home-prepared dog foods also split into home-cooked and raw food. In the commercial products category there are the sub-categories of kibbles and canned foods.
Home-Prepared Dog Food
The options here include home-cooked and raw food. The raw food category can be split into two more sub-categories – prey model (carnivores) and biologically appropriate raw food (omnivores). The challenge with home-cooked dog foods is that they quite honestly are very time consuming and require a dedicated commitment. This requires massive research and once you hit upon the magic formula, you will end up spending anywhere from a few hours a month to a few hours a week actually preparing the food that you will be giving your dog to eat.
The hook that connects home-cooked and raw food in the home-prepared option is that both will result in a higher expense than with commercial products. That will result primarily from the freshness and quality of the ingredients you choose to create the formula food with. However, if you do this right, you will be able to provide your dog with nutritional value that may not be available to the same extent through commercial products. With a healthier dog, it will be sick less and cost you less in the long-term when vet visits and bills are factored into the equation.
Can you feed your dog a suitable home-prepared alternative? Of course you can, but you will need a sanitary kitchen and must adhere to the same protocols you would follow when preparing meals for your family. Your vet will likely try to talk you out of home-prepared foods and try to encourage you to purchase their ‘recommended’ special dog foods formulated by scientists and while these are good, they will be expensive and essentially fall under the commercial products category.
Commercial Products Dog Food
If you are trying to refrain for putting your dog on a complete commercial products diet, you can use these kibbles or wet foods in addition to home-prepared foods. You just really have to put in a great deal of homework when it comes to sorting out what commercially available foods are the best for your dog. There is no doubt that these products will be far less expensive that your carefully chosen home-cooked recipes. However, the ingredient label will be able to tell you far more than any type of slick advertising campaign could.
Keep in mind, dog food is a huge money maker for several of these companies so you must take an unbiased approach when you dissect the nutritional content of each dog food bag you examine. Be wary of high amounts of ‘filler’ products contained in these foods. Corn is a cheap ‘filler’ that is common in the dog foods that have less nutritional value than others. Plus, just like in the food labels on human foods, the ingredients are listing in the order they appear in the recipe from the most to the least. For example, if corn is the first or second item listed, you will know that the majority of this type of dog food is filler.
Speaking Of The Dog Food Ingredient Label…
Dogs and cats are actually supposed to eat meat. You can see this for sure just by looking in their mouths and observing the teeth that they have formed in their jaws. However, the type of meat can vary from animal to animal. Chicken, pork, beef and fish are the most common varieties enjoyed by both dogs and cats. The nutrients found in these meats are vital to the good health of your pet. It also means that any meat source should appear in the first three items on any food label.
Kibbles Versus Wet Food
One of the benefits of feeding your pet kibbles is that the size and shape of the little bits of food is designed with a specific role to play. The bumpy, unusual shapes are supposed to provide teeth cleaning and gum stimulation. These actions are two important parts of good dental care for your pet. As you dog or cat ages, the hard surfaces of the kibble may become difficult to bite, break and swallow. Wet foods are a great alternative and can be an effective way to keep meats and other nutrients in your pet’s diet. Again, pay attention to the ingredient listing on the label. Also, be sure to observe the recommended feeding schedule for the size and breed of your pet. It is important to not overfeed him or her in order to avoid obesity. However, underfeeding can also be a problem.
When doing anything to your pet’s diet, you have to also factor in treats. The best thing to do is offer healthy treats so that you can continue to help your pet maintain a healthy weight and stay well with a balanced diet with proper nutritional needs being met at every age stage of your dog or cat. You can research what those nutritional needs are and can spend a lot of time creating the right mixture of items in a home-cooked or raw food treat. Or you can just opt for one of the many good treat foods that have been commercially manufactured. The better you are at this, the longer you will have that pet in your family.