With so many options when it comes to dog food, you might feel overwhelmed and confused when you think about what you should be feeding your four-footed pal. While your final choice should be something you discuss with your veterinarian, here are some considerations to keep in mind as you make this decision.
Traditional Commercial Food
If you decide to purchase traditional commercial food, you can buy it at any pet supply or grocery store. There are many brands available. The best way to choose a high-quality food is by looking at the ingredients list. Look for a brand that lists a type of meat (chicken, beef, turkey) or meat meal (chicken meal, beef meal) as the first ingredient. Corn, grains, and vegetables should not be the first ingredient on the list; this will generally not provide enough protein for your dog.
Once you decide on a brand, be sure you are buying the right formula for your dog. Puppies should eat puppy food and adults should eat adult food. Senior dogs might do well with a formula made for older dogs. If you have a large-breed puppy, be sure to choose large-breed puppy food to help his joints and bones form at the right rate. You can choose whether you prefer to offer dry or canned food.
Special Types of Commercial Food
Some dogs have special needs and require special food. For example, if your dog is sensitive to grains, you will want to find a grain-free food. Grains are not bad for dogs unless they have an allergy. The signs of an allergy might be scratching, hair loss, and digestive disturbances.
You might prefer to feed your pal organic food; this is a personal choice and you will be able to find organic foods at pet supply stores or you can order them online. Unless your dog has specific health problems, a vegetarian or vegan diet is not appropriate; dogs are omnivores and generally need to consume animal protein for good health.
Homemade Dog Diet
Some people like to make homemade dog food. It can be difficult to balance all of the nutrients that your dog needs, so talk to your veterinarian about the specific foods you include in your recipes. Your vet might suggest a dietary supplement to ensure that your dog is getting all of the vitamins and minerals he needs for good health. For example, you will likely need to add a calcium supplement, which is added to commercial foods.
There are many different recipes for homemade dog food. Use dark meat poultry, brown rice, and vegetables (dogs often like sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and peas) for standard fare. You can also add small amounts of lean beef or pork, but not bacon, sausage, or other fatty cuts. Dark poultry is preferable to white meat unless your dog needs to lose weight. You can also add a small amount of fruit like apples, but keep in mind that fruit contains natural sugars and aren’t good in excess.
One way to make it easy to feed your dog nutritiously is to order food from a delivery service. NomNomNow, for example, delivers fresh dog food right to your door. So you get the benefit of fresh food with the convenience of having it delivered and not having to make it yourself. This is a great option if you are in a time crunch but you don’t want to feed your dog dry kibble.
What Not to Feed Your Dog
There are some foods that are toxic or not healthy for dogs, so you should avoid including them in your dog’s diet. They include:
- Candy and other sugary foods
- Salty foods
- Anything that contains xylitol (sugar free yogurt, certain peanut butters, sugarless gum, etc.)
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and garlic
- Fat trimmings
- Macadamia nuts
It’s best not to give your dog table foods for a few reasons. First, if you feed your dog from the table, it teaches him that begging is okay, and most people don’t want their dogs to pick up that habit. Secondly, people generally add seasonings, including salt and pepper, to their food, and these aren’t usually good for dogs. And third, table scraps can provide your dog with too many calories and contribute to weight gain.
If you have questions about what to feed your dog, your veterinarian is your best resource. Reach out and ask what they recommend!