By Shreya Tragad
Our dogs provide us with unconditional love and are always there for us when we are feeling low or stressed. Feeding your dog a nutritious diet is your way of showing them how much you care about them.
Aiming for the best dog food in a recommended amount for your pup provides them with many health advantages and great quality of life, which is something we all want for our little one!
But how do you know what type of dog food is best for your particular dog? Hmmm…
Well, this will depend on numerous factors which are specific to both you and your pet. Here is a small guide to help you determine the best and most suitable food for them!
The age of your dog is one of the most important factors to help determine the right food. Is he/she a puppy, young adult, or a senior dog? As different dogs are in different life stages, they have different nutritional requirements.
All puppies require essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and minerals. Since puppies have higher energy requirements, their diets usually contain approximately twice the amount of crude protein along with fat in comparison to adult diets.
Puppies that are larger breeds require less calcium and phosphorus to support bone development since they mature at a much slower rate in comparison to smaller breeds.
At this age, many puppies will come to their new home for the first time so it will be important not to make a huge difference in their diet as it can cause upset stomachs for their delicate bodies.
The best dog foods you should feed to your little puppy are high-quality commercial kibbles designed for puppies as it will ensure that your pet is getting all the nutrients they need to grow and develop.
It will be okay to add a few vegetables and/or rice to their diet, but the main diet should consist of commercially balanced kibble. Raw diets are not suitable for puppies who are young because they do not have the immune system development to support high bacterial loads. Growing puppies find it harder to balance raw diets.
Since small puppies require higher nutritional amounts, it will be important to feed them small meals frequently and regularly before they move on to adult food.
16 Weeks and Older
In their growing stage, it would be a great idea to feed your little one some raw meaty bones. This is the age when your little pup’s permanent teeth are coming so they want to actively chew on something constantly. This will also be a great way to save your shoes from being chewed up.
During your phase of introducing new dog foods to your puppy, it would be a great idea to keep track of what foods agree or do not agree with them. Note down any signs of illness or allergic reactions to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Do not overfeed your dog as many people assume the bigger the breed, the larger the meal, this is not always true. Overfeeding will cause many health complications moving forward and it will be best to avoid that.
The diet for an adult dog requires about 10% protein and 50% carbohydrates. They should be fed once or twice a day using high-quality commercial dog food which is most appropriate for their current life stage.
Small to medium breed dogs are considered adults from 12 months of age while larger breed dogs take a long time to grow and aren’t considered adults until 18-24 months of age. It will be important to check with your veterinarian to ensure when it would be necessary to switch from puppy food to adult dog food.
It will be important to ensure that you are feeding your dog a full and balanced meal, you can add a mixture of cooked or raw meat, and vegetables, but it’s important to not overfeed your puppy as it can lead to health issues. Veterinarians state that pet owners should not only be educated about what to feed their dogs, but also the right proportions to live a long healthy life. There are several ways to indicate your pet’s overall health at home and how to increase their life.
For older dogs, it will be crucial to keep track of their health as many of them have chronic health issues that can be either affected or worsened by the diet you feed them. They will require 20% fewer calories than what they used to intake, your vet can help you determine the right amount of calories.
For some senior dogs, it will be a good idea to feed them in small amounts, frequently throughout the day rather than large portions once or twice a day. For other dogs, it may be necessary to keep the same eating diet as before. Some senior dogs may require more fibre, protein and other nutrients to make sure it supports their older bodies.
The Breed and Size of The Dog
The breed of your dog will be a determining factor in deciding on the most suitable dog food for them. Joint issues are common in larger breeds and some breeds are also more prone to certain skin conditions compared to others. Certain diets may be necessary for larger breeds to ensure the good health of their skin.
For dry foods, it will be best to go with something that is meant for small dogs and has smaller kibbles. Smaller dogs will chew them entirely and will absorb all the nutrients from small kibbles.
Since larger dogs are more prone to joint issues, you may wonder if it will be necessary to choose something that has glucosamine or chondroitin, but this is not always true. Larger breeds may even benefit from just taking these as their supplements separately rather than in their food.
Best Dog Food Type
Canned Dog Food Vs. Dry Dog Food
Both of these options provide a good amount of nutrition, canned foods have more moisture and will help dogs that have any urinary problems or don’t drink enough water throughout the day.
Canned foods usually contain more meat protein rather than dry foods and are also made with less carbohydrates. Since canned foods do not contain any synthetic preservatives which is why fats and oils do not result in unpleasant smells.
If you have a dog that is overweight, canned foods have a lot of moisture which can make it easier for your dog to feel full faster but also be on a diet!
Cooked Dog Food Vs. Raw Dog Food
Raw dog food can be made from home, bought from the store, freeze fried, etc. This includes organ meat, muscle meat, bones, raw eggs, vegetables and yogurt. These benefit your dog with healthier skin, great dental health, smaller stools, and more energy.
Some veterinarians say that raw diets are not the best choice for dogs who are living in the same households with those who have young children or people who have compromised immune systems. Some puppies may be better off with cooked or processed foods as raw foods require lots of care in the preparation.
Some dogs are better off with cooked foods as they have more natural ingredients such as chicken, spinach, blueberries, etc. This will ensure great health and increased energy levels! Yes, cooked foods do take longer and will depend on your time, space and finances!
Pet owners should consult with their vet first before preparing homemade diets as they can provide recipes that are made by veterinary nutritionists.
Evaluate The Label and Ingredients
The words that have been used on the label can say a lot about that dog food. Keep an eye out for diets that follow a 95% rule, if the label says something like “salmon and rice”, it means that 95% of the ingredients consist of those items. If the label says “dinner”, then the word in front of it is comprised of only 25% of the diet.
To make sure you are feeding your little one a healthy diet, it will be necessary to check the ingredients list, especially the FIRST FIVE! The ingredients are usually listed in weighted order.
If it says “meal”, that means that the water and fat have discluded, it doesn’t include hair, nails, or horns, but more of organs such as kidneys and hearts.
“Natural flavour” does not necessarily mean organic, the flavour can be extracted from plants or animals.
If there are any chemical-sounding ingredients in your chosen dog food, those are usually minerals, vitamins and other necessary supplements for your pup.
Foods to Keep Away From Your Dog
This is highly toxic for your dog and should be kept away to avoid any serious reactions.
- Salty Foods
Salt can seriously affect dogs that have any chronic diseases related to their kidney, heart, or liver problems, but it’s best to confirm with your vet regarding their diet and consumption amount.
- Onion and Garlic
Onions cause oxidative damage to the red blood cells which can eventually rupture them and lead to anemia.
- Milk and Lactose
Some dogs are lactose intolerant and your dog may react strongly to milk products such as upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Fatty Foods
To maintain a healthy weight for your dog, too many fatty foods should be avoided as they can lead to pancreatitis-related issues.
Certain fruits contain citric acids such as grapefruit, lime, orange, and lemon, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. If it gets really bad, it can also cause depression in the central nervous system.
- Raw Yeast Dough
Your furry one can have small bread pieces, but raw dough is something you must keep away. When the yeast rises, it can cause gas in your puppy’s digestive system which is very painful and can also lead to stomach ruptures.
Well, there you have it, some ideas for what types of foods may or may not be suitable for your little one! Our puppies also deserve to be taken care of by good diets just as we do with ourselves! They are always here for us during our rough and stressful days, and they deserve to be treated the same by providing them with healthy dog food options.
Let’s take care of them and make sure we are feeding them good-quality foods in the right proportions. But don’t forget to spoil them once in a while with their favourite delicious treats, which are also healthy!