As pet parents, we want only the best for our beloved furry children. Our responsibilities do not just end at housing, feeding, caring for, and loving them.
We want to fulfil these to the extent that our pets live as happily as possible. Unfortunately, our pets cannot speak.
And so, we must make many choices for them, doing our best to understand their needs and preferences without getting that information from the horse’s mouth.
So how is it that we are supposed to choose the right food for our pet dogs? Read on to discover seven ways to determine the best and healthiest food for your precious pup.
After all, what may seem to be simple dog food to you is what your pet subsists on daily.
Check for Compliance
One of the first things to learn as a dog owner is how to read a dog food label. At the very least, the most critical skill you must have is to verify that the food you intend to buy complies with the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food (AS 5812–2017).
The industry of pet food is a self-regulatory one. This means that there is no guarantee that the pet food that you can find on the market will be safe and nutritious for your pet.
Pet food safety incidents are not a rare occurrence. A longstanding issue is concerned with the use of preservatives used in pet food.
Some of the preservatives in pet food contain sulphite or potassium sulphite that liberates sulphur dioxide, causing thiamine or vitamin B deficiency.
The lack of this essential vitamin in dogs can be life-threatening. As such, the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food (AS 5812–2017) requires such products to include enough thiamine as well.
Learn Basic Nutrition
There are lots of basic knowledge you should have before owning and caring for a pet. This is especially true for dogs, which have different needs, interactions, and exercise requirements depending on their breed.
One of the perhaps overlooked aspects of dog care is their diet, as there are many dog food options on the market. However, there are some essential things you must know.
Dogs are mostly carnivorous. Unlike cats, they can survive having non-meat products included in their diets.
That said, your dog should be getting a balanced diet for it to be a healthy one. Too much of one thing will be bad, not to mention boring.
You can provide your dog with natural food, such as human-grade raw meat and uncooked bones.
And, of course, be aware that there are foods that dogs cannot consume at all, such as onion, coffee, and chocolate.
Specific Needs of Your Dog
I am sure that, as a pet parent, you will agree with me that your dog is unique. Pets have their own preferences and personalities, but those are not the main determinants for what kind of food they should be fed.
For dogs, you should look at their age, for one thing. Whether your dog is a puppy, adult, or senior will affect the kind of foods suited to him.
This is true as well if your dog is pregnant. Certain dog foods may also be unsuitable depending on breed.
This is because smaller-sized breeds may choke on dog food intended for their larger counterparts.
Also, be sure that your dog does not have any medical or dietary issues that may affect their eating requirements.
Compare Brands and Products
With the different brands and products available for your dog, it pays to be a savvy consumer and compare them.
This goes beyond the matter of price, as these options’ nutritional benefits will highly likely vary. You should also read the list of ingredients, because if there’s an ingredient that you don’t know – should you be feeding it to your pet?
Take the time to look through what different brands offer for dogs. Besides, you should also differentiate between products of the same brand.
Feel free to ask other dog owners their preferences for dog food too.
Modify and Add Variety
Beyond just dry and wet food, there are also many more varieties of food you can offer your precious pup.
You will see various biscuits, treats, jerkies, bones, and more as you stroll through the pet food aisle at the supermarket.
Different companies and products will also give your dog the benefit of enjoying different formulas, some of which may prove to be more nutritious.
Keep an eye out on how your dog reacts to the food you provide. But do not just feed blindly based on your dog’s happy reactions, or you may accidentally end up spoiling him.
Feeding the Right Amount
Dogs should be fed just the right amount to keep them healthy. Typically, adult dogs should be fed at least twice a day to avoid bloat. Thus, portions should be altered accordingly.
Do not under or overfeed your dog. If it is a case of the former, your dog will become painfully thin and may tire quickly.
For the latter, you may face heartache yourself as you will have to contend with sad puppy dog eyes when you inevitably must cut down on your dog’s food intake.
Seek Professional Guidance
Do not be afraid to ask for help from a vet or a veterinary nutritionist. This is especially true if your dog has dietary restrictions that need to be strictly followed. Dogs with dental disease or other disabilities may require special diets.