Have you ever scanned the ingredients in a commercial dog food and thought, “How can this be healthy?” Some may think most pet foods available in stores today are so highly processed and full of preservatives, they aren’t any better for our dogs than potato chips are for humans. However, unlike potato chips, a pet food must prove it can provide all the nutrients needed by the dog, cat, puppy or kitten before it is sold. So before your dog takes another bite, read these tips on how to find the healthiest food for your beloved pooch. A dog food myth is ” if it costs more it must be healthier for them ” well this is not always necessarily so! You want to try to find a good balance of nutrition and cost, you should not have to re mortgage your house in order to feed your dog! At the end of this blog I will list what I have researched and give you my top five and with approx price and place to shop.
Understand that arguably, the best ratios for a healthy dog’s diet are about 50% meat, 50% veggies, and no grain, wheat, or other cheap fillers. Choose pet food close to this ingredient ratio. However, this type of information is not available from the regulated part of the label (ie, guaranteed analysis or ingredient list).
Ensure that meat meal protein sources are high in the ingredient list. The meal is basically the pre-cooked meat, which ensures that it won’t reduce down anymore during the cooking process. (It takes 5 pounds of the animal meat to make one pound of the animal meal.) You could look for three of the first five ingredients listed on the label as a form of protein such as chicken meal, lamb meal, venison meal.
Dog Food No No’s:
Grains can be a long-term source of energy and energy storage for dogs, but they can also be used as a cheap filler in order to boost the food’s protein percentage. Watch out! Any grain you feed your dog should be used in whole form so that it supplies more fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best grains for dogs (when used in the proper percentages) are rolled oats, barley, quinoa, millet, and brown rice.
Often, low quality dog foods will list a meat ingredient first, which will be followed by several by-products and fillers. In this case, although meat is listed first, there are actually MORE fillers, which changes the ratio noted above.
Think twice before making your dog go vegetarian. Dogs need protein. Would a dog naturally be vegetarian? No. Most veterinarians and holistic practitioners agree that although a dog can survive on a vegetarian diet, they may not thrive on it.
Be aware that while preservatives may be necessary to keep the food edible, preservatives do not have to be artificial chemicals that might be cancer-causing agents. Avoid pet foods that use chemical preservatives BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin. Vitamin E & vitamin C are great preservatives that are much better for your dog.
Choose Premium Brand dog foods instead of Economy Brand dog foods. The cheapest ingredients are rarely the healthiest ones.
Go holistic. Holistic foods are 100% natural and 100% nutritious. They contain human-grade ingredients.
Some may consider this rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t eat it, your dog probably shouldn’t eat it either. (Think animal fat and added salt or sugar.) But there are some things you would eat (such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, white flour and onions) that are NOT good for your dog. Don’t make the mistake of thinking all human food is appropriate for your canine. Canine and human nutritional needs and likes differ, such that what is appropriate and appealing for your dog may not be something you care to eat. In addition, some ingredients considered undesirable by US consumers (eg, bi-products) are enjoyed by humans in other cultures.
- When changing your dog’s food it is important to switch gradually, as it is easier on the dogs digestive system, and reactions to the new food will generally be less severe. It is recommended that you gradually increase the amount of new food in the following sequence: 1/7, 1/3, 1/1, 3/1, 7/1, and 1; this being the portion of new food to old food (first change: a total of 8 cups of food [that would be one big dog!] with one cup of new food with 7 cups of old food). Each change should be gradual with several days (5 days to a week is best) between changes. All in all it should take a month or more. Even a 4-day transition can help avoid digestive upsets.
- Often, you’ll find what seems to be a good dog food in almost every aspect, but it has too much grain. To help balance the ratios, try a grain-free canned dog food to supplement your dry food with. Dogs love canned food mixed with their food.
- A good way to see if your dog’s diet is suitable is to check how it comes out the other end. No, you don’t have to get too close to it, but as you pick it up in your poop scoop or baggie, check it for consistency and general appearance. A healthy dog’s output should be firm and without any traces of blood or mucus.
- Sometimes you can’t afford the very best for your pets, so it comes down to trying to find the best that fits your budget. Use what you’ve learned about ingredient labels to make the best decision.
- If you really want to know what’s in your dog’s food, try making your own dog food. It’s not as hard as it sounds! There are plenty of recipes and meal plans available online, but beware. Really research what you’re doing. Consult with your veterinarian to make sure the diet is well-balanced. A very helpful book is “The Whole Pet Diet” by Andi Brown, and she gives some good recipes. If you’d rather save time and pay more for the same thing, she also produces Halo Spot’s Stew, which is her homemade recipe canned.
- Raw food diet is often found the most beneficial for dogs’ health. You can find meaty bones in the stores or order online. In addition dogs could eat some vegetables or fruits (tomatoes, carrots, apples, etc.). Also vitamins should be given as a supplement.
- Every dog, like every human, has different nutritional requirements. It is very important you check with your veterinarian to determine what foods best meet your pet’s needs.
- Don’t assume that your dog should eat what humans eat. “People food” such as chocolate, grapes, nuts, raisins, garlic (in large amounts) and onions are TOXIC for your dog.
- Some people believe that raw diets are not safe.
- Please scroll through my earlier blogs to read about raw food diets, I am neither for nor against them I feel that it is a personal choice you make with the guidance of your vet.
- Always research and question any new diet, commercial food or raw diet. Education is always best when making choices, ask questions, research and ask other dog owners what they feed.
My top 5 food picks and where to buy them
My top number one choice is a brand called ACANA here is their website for you to research https://www.acana.com/products/
I personally use this product to feed some of my dogs who have skin and food issues, (bulldogs, boxers) I recommend the ACANA PACIFICA it is an all fish diet ( stinks but worth the bad smell ) it is 60% fish, 40% fruits and vegetables. That’s it!!! no soy, bad fillers, unwanted dyes or chemicals and best of all CANADIAN! This will cost you anywhere from $60-$80 depending of the flavor you choose. This is sold at Global Pet Foods
My number two pick is PRO PLAN by Purina, https://www.purina.ca/products/dogs/pro-plan/default.aspx don’t wig out over the fact it is made bu Purina, it has come a long way since the old school Purina products, the pro plan series is real chicken or lamb when you by the shredded meat bag. This can be found in most pet stores like Petsmart and will cost between $40-$60 depending on size of bag and again flavour.
My number three pick is CANIDAE https://www.canidae.com/cost-to-feed-canidae/index.html?utm_source=Bing&utm_medium=CPC&utm_campaign=bing1 This can be ordered on line and in some specialty dog food stores in the bigger cities, prices on this food varies so you will have to research the site I gave you and decide from there.
My number four pick is THE GREAT CANADIAN DOG FOOD https://www.thegreatcanadiandogfood.ca/ I also personally use this one to feed the other half of my dogs who don’t have and food or skin issues, I have been using this brand for just about a year now and have had great success with it so far. I have had zero issues with any of my dogs or the other dogs in for daycare or boarding eating this food, they LOVE it! It can be found in most equine stores for example here, THRASHERS FEED it is about $40 per bag for an 18kg bag.
MY NUMBER FIVE PICK is NUTRIENCE https://www.nutrience.com/ This again is a fair commercial food found in most pet stores, I personally have never used it with my pack but I know people who have and rate it a 6 out of 10, it is about $40-$70 per bad depending again on flavor and size of bag.
The opinions about the foods are just that MY OPINIONS you decide what you like if anything, and make your own choice. Seek a vet if your really unsure about what to feed and how much to feed. I hope this helps some of you in making good choices for feeding your dog.