Dog owners are presented with a myriad of food choices for their canine companions, and this wealth of choice has led to widespread confusion about what dogs really need in their daily nutrition. Looking at the broad array of dog food products on pet store shelves, you can begin to feel we’ve gone too far in our canine food options. Here’s a look at some of the choices, to help you whittle down your needs. If needed you can also offer them dog supplements and fish oils for dogs.
Traditional Ingredient Dog Foods
Advertising often makes dog owners feel a strong push to spend a little more on dog food in order to get the “highest quality” for their pets. But in some cases, this can be counterproductive. Commercial dog food companies spend a great deal of money on research to find the best recipes to provide the nutrition your dog needs at a reasonable cost. The higher-end products generally have the right amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates for the average dog’s nutritional needs. And in some cases, elaborate ingredients may be too “rich” for their digestive systems. Be willing to try a high-quality brand of supermarket dog food. It may suit your dog’s needs perfectly. However, stay away from off-brands in which ingredient quality may be a problem.
Many people feel that their dogs should be on a diet that most mimics what they would eat in the wild. They believe that dogs would normally feed on meat, and the use of grains in dog food products only produces nutritional and digestive problems for the dog. This belief often reflects the humans’ preference for the “paleo” diet for themselves. However, most dogs do just fine eating grains, because they have adapted to human diets over the space of thousands of years. However, if your dog has an allergy to grains, these products are a good choice.
Gluten-free is not the same as grain-free, as some grains do not contain gluten. Gluten-free products may contain oats, corn, millet or buckwheat. Very few dogs have a problem with gluten, but owners may themselves choose a gluten-free diet to lose weight or deal with digestive problems, so they also choose them for their pets. However, no evidence supports gluten-free products as a better choice for the average dog.
Special Ingredient Foods For Allergies
A number of dog food manufacturers offer a host of products with special ingredients that can be used for animals that have allergies to common ingredients, such as chicken, beef or lamb. You can find fish and rice, duck and sweet potato, and bison and pea recipes. You can even purchase a product with kangaroo and apples. While these foods can be helpful for dogs with severe skin or stomach allergies, they do not add any special nutritional value for average dogs. They can also be much more costly than typical dog foods.
“Fresh” dog food mixes that require refrigeration are one of the latest offerings in pet food. These products offer tasty-looking ingredients in a mixture that often resembles food that the owner himself or herself would consume. The problem with these foods lies in using them before they become tainted with bacteria, which can lead to stomach upsets. If you have the time to attend to expiration dates for dog food, your dog is likely to enjoy these foods. “Fresh” food options are generally higher in price than other types of food.
Most dogs without special dietary needs will be happy with whatever food you set down, as long as it’s on time. However, if you have a pet with dietary restrictions or special needs, you may find yourself experimenting with a number of these food choices. When you find that right one, stick with it, and your dog’s health will thank you for it.