Picking the Best Dog Food

As we navigate the world of doggie diets, it’s important to move past the fads and fallacies and get to the meat of the issue.

Puppy next to food bowl
Photo by Karsten Winegeart/Unsplash.

“You are what you eat” is one of the most basic tenets of human health. Even so, nutrition is often the most overlooked fundamental of our overall well-being. This ignoring of sound nutrition likewise spills over into the care of our pets. Last year, Americans spent over $287 million on dog food alone, according to American Veterinary Medical Association figures. The dog food market is extremely competitive and contains a huge variety of foods, snacks, and supplements. The products themselves can vary significantly in nutrient composition, availability, digestibility, palatability, physical form, texture, and flavor. They also are available in a wide array of formulations: wet food, dry food, grain-free, raw, hypo-allergenic, and natural to name just a few. This large selection of commercial diets, combined with the periodic propagation of popular human nutritional fads and fallacies, has resulted in much confusion among dog-owners as to what to feed their furry friend.

The most perfect dog foods are formulated to provide adequate nutrition specific to the animal’s needs. Some foods have been developed specifically for a particular stage of the dog’s life (puppy foods and more geriatric diets). Other foods have been created to deal with particular diseases (kidney disease and food allergies). Your veterinarian can help guide you in the selection of the most suitable diet for your dog based on breed, age, overall health, and underlying medical issues.

Just as important as what to feed a dog is how much to feed. One of the most common problems veterinarians see is health issues caused by obesity. Humans have taken a running, hunting, herding, and stalking species and turned them into couch potatoes. Meals should be at regular times with measured amounts given. Two smaller meals are preferable to one large feeding. Between meals, snacks must be limited and low-calorie. Puppies require more calories to aid with growth. Senior dogs, over 7 years old, are less active and need fewer calories overall. Often senior diets have fewer calories, lower sodium, higher protein, and fewer carbohydrates.

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Picking the right food from the hundreds of available brands can be challenging. Your veterinarian can help you decide on a diet that is best suited for your dog’s specific needs. Now go have some fun with them.