When it comes to your dog, (and obviously, the key word here is “baby”), you want to feed them as healthy a diet as possible. For most pet owners, their dog is like a member of the family, and you certainly wouldn’t feed other members of your family only unhealthy foods or an unbalanced diet. Therefore, why would you sacrifice quality and nutrition when it comes to your four-legged friend? Unfortunately, most commercial dog food does just that… sacrifices quality and balanced nutrition, at the expense of you and your dog. A healthy diet equals a healthy (and long) life. In a day and age where 40% of dogs have packed on more pounds than is optimal, and 46% of dogs today die from diseases like cancer, you should want to give your pet the best chance possible at a long and healthy life. Heart, liver, and kidney disease is on the rise, and it all boils down to being mindful of just what you are feeding your pet. Much like humans, what you put into your dog is what comes out. If you feed them a poor diet every day, it can manifest itself into various illnesses and ailments. Not the goal when you go to pick up that bag of dog food, right? So, let’s talk about a few truths when it comes to commercial dog food, so you can see how so many of them miss the mark when it comes to nourishing your furry little cuddle buddy.
Complete and Balanced is a Best Guess
Just because something says it, doesn’t make it true. While it would be nice to believe that one single brand of dog food can meet all the nutritional needs of your dog, the reality is that is most likely not the case. There is no single brand of dog food that will meet all of your dog's nutrient needs all the time. Therefore, food rotation and supplementation is encouraged. Which leads us to truth number two.
It’s Healthier to Mix It Up
It’s perfectly fine to mix your dog’s food up. As a matter of fact, it’s important to mix it up for your dog, to ensure that the diet they are being fed truly is “balanced and complete.” If you think about it, would you like to eat the same thing day in and day out? Probably not. So, if you wouldn’t, why would your dog? They need variety too, and the message that switching their feed could give them a bellyache, while potentially true in the short-run, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. An upset stomach can actually be a sign that your dog has nutritional deficiency somewhere, and needs a wider variety of food. Just like people, when your dog is not nutritionally sound, his gut will not work optimally. Once your dog gets the complete nutrition he needs, and his gut heals and begins to work the way it’s designed to do, then he can eat different foods on a regular basis with no issues, just the way we as people do.
Dry Dog Food or Canned?
Dry dog food (also called kibble) can be quite dehydrating. It has been linked to bloat as well as other health problems in both dogs and cats. Dry dog food is exposed to extreme heat during the production phase. Extreme heat causes a loss of potency in the nutritional value, in some cases destroying up to 75% of nutrients and vitamins. Canned food is a tad bit more “fresh”, and less heat is used to create it, increasing its nutritional value. However, there’s still nothing that beats real (fresh) food for your pet. Whether it’s cooked or raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, or frozen… these forms offer much higher nutrition options for your fuzzy pal, and should be weighed carefully against the kibble brands you choose if you want to feed your pet the healthiest diet available.
Filling Your Dog Up With Corn
If you read the ingredients on the back of the food bag, you’ll find that the first one is most often corn, or some derivative of corn. This is because it's a cheap filler, and lowers the costs of production. Dog’s bodies are not designed to properly process corn by-products. Corn has even been identified as a possible allergen for dogs. When the main ingredient in your dogs food is corn or a corn by-product, you are feeding your pet a food that will not be easily digested or absorbed in their gut. You will typically find corn used as a filler in the cheaper, low cost dog foods. To ensure that your dog is receiving wholesome nutrition, and not being filled up with corn at every meal, be sure to do your research and check the label for nutrition information! Your furry four-legged family member will not receive complete, balanced nutrition on food with grain filler as the main ingredient!
Dog Food “Good”, People Food “Bad”- Not!
Obviously, there are some foods that a dog cannot and should not eat. Things like grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, and garlic to name a few. Also, never give your dog any foods with Xylitol (it can be deadly), and stay away from allowing them chocolate as well. Other than those few no no’s, for the most part dogs can eat the same foods as humans do and be all the healthier for it. Think of it like this… feeding your dog some commercial dog foods is similar to feeding your dog granola bars every day. Since we already know eating only processed food on a daily basis is not healthy for you, it stands to reason that a “processed food only” equivalent is also not healthy for your dog. As more research is conducted on the proper diet for dogs, we are learning that a processed food only diet is no longer enough. Processed foods make for a longer shelf life and ease of feeding and convenience, but lack the complete proper nutrition necessary. We now understand that dog’s need whole food nutrition for optimal health and wellness!
Animal By-Product… What is It?
If you tend to feed your dog the cheaper brands, you can bet the cheaper the brand, the cheaper the ingredients will be. Corn and cornmeal will usually be the very first ingredient listed with “animal by-product” as the protein source. This kind of dog food is lacks proper, complete nutrition and can potentially lead to of health problems and diseases. Keep in mind that the final rendered product that comes out of these many manufacturers of pet food is supposed to be labeled properly, and list its dominant animal source. However, it is hard to identify the main animal source when several different meats are used. As a result, food often gets labeled with terms like “meat by-product” or “animal by-product” as well as “animal fat”. Pretty ambiguous, right? It doesn’t tell you much. Another unfortunate problem with this practice is that the meat sources can be contaminated. When companies chose to use ingredients such as “meat by-product” or “animal by-product”, these mix of animal species could have been on unknown drugs or antibiotics that can potentially be passed through the food to your pet! Frankly, some commercial grade dog food is made of material that is considered “unfit for human consumption” … yet somehow it is deemed okay to feed to your dog. It is important to be aware of what you are feeding your dog!
What You Can - and Should Be Doing
This information may be startling, to say the least, but this is not to scare you away from feeding your furry four-legged friend his pet food! What you should take away from all of this information is how necessary it is to take the time to do research on what the best option is for your pet. This is why you should always check the labels and ingredients of the dog food that you choose to buy, and try to find the brands that truly value animal life. They are out there, you just have to look for them. You also will probably pay a little more for them, but the health of your dog is worth it. Do your due diligence! Research different dog food brands to compare what they have to offer. Select one that has high quality standards and creates their food recipes based on research and the help of nutritionists. Try to find brands of dog food that have wholesome nutrition and natural ingredients. Take the time to find options that are grain free and do not use any fillers. This can be time consuming, but well worth it for your dog’s health! There are pet food companies that truly want to help you nourish your dog so that you can equip them to live a long and healthy life. Stay far away from the subpar cheaper brands that rely on fillers and by-product to keep costs low. Strive to make the health of your pet top priority and purchase the highest quality food that you can reasonably afford. And if you suspect the food you’re buying just isn’t cutting it, or if your pet’s health needs change, consider a supplement to help get them the extra nutrition they need. For example, if your dog suffers from arthritis or hip and joint problems, consider supporting healthy joints and flexibility with a glucosamine hip and joint supplement for dogs
. Or if your dog suffers from dry skin, consider a supplement with balanced omegas to help maintain a healthy skin and coat.