The best brand of dog food is a subject that is constantly debated and the wide variety of food types on the market do not help make this choice easy. The final answer will depend on many different factors and may not be the same in every case.
There are dry foods (kibble) and wet foods (canned). There are hypoallergenic choices, low/no grain, diets for puppies and senior dogs, and even foods that are low in protein or fat or specific health concerns. Raw diets are another choice growing in popularity.
With all of these versions and choices how can you tell which will work best? If you are not sure about the specific nutritional needs of your dog because of a health issue you should check with your vet before making any changes. Some dogs may have certain diseases or medical problems that may make a special diet necessary.
The age of your pet is one factor in choosing the right food. Puppies tend to need more calories and fat in their diet, as well as large amounts of protein needed to grow and develop. Senior dogs may need lower calorie diets to make up for an aging metabolism and less exercise. Dogs who have difficulty with kidney function may need a protein restricted diet for optimal health and well being. Diets for health issues are often available only by prescription from a veterinary hospital or online pet pharmacy.
Some pet owners may offer only dry food while others provide only canned wet food or a combination of the two. Most wet best hunting dog food will have a higher protein content than dry versions. An increasing number of individuals offer both wet and dry food at various times to ensure a healthy diet and full nutritional support. Each animal is different, with their own dietary needs according to their health, weight, age, and other factors. Some breeds and ages are much more active, and they will need added calories and nutrients to make up for the excessive energy and activity. Other dogs have the opposite problem. Throughout the life of the dog the right food may change several times.
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the need (or lack thereof) for grains in a dog’s diet. Grains are a much cheaper ingredient for dog food companies than fresh meats, organ meats, and fruits and vegetables. Kibbles with grains can generally be offered to customers at a lower price, though, so they can be beneficial in that respect. For pet owners on a tight budget, most grain free diets may be out of reach.
There is no best brand for every dog. There are a lot of great choices out there depending on your budget, your dog’s specific needs, and what your pet prefers. The trick is balance all of these considerations to find the best choice for your dog.
Raw food diet for dogs
Many might of heard of the trend of feeding your dog only raw food and steering completely clear of commercially produced dog food. Is the theraw food diet for dogs really a healthier choice, or is it just a trend?
Some call it the “raw food diet” for dogs (and cats) or it is sometimes known by the name BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). This diet is based on the premise that animals are healthiest when they are eating the way that their digestive systems were designed to eat. Obviously, dogs in the wild do not cook their food before they eat it. However, it goes beyond the fact that the food that you feed your dog should be raw. The whole premise of the BARF diet is to recognize the fact that dogs are carnivores. That means that they are designed (teeth, jaws, digestive system) to eat meat. Do you know how much meat there is in commercially produced dog food? Hardly any at all. Most dry commercial dog food is made of cereals and grains, artificial flavor enhancers, dyes and preservatives to prolong the food’s shelf life and even fillers from the by products of the human food chain.
Let’s use common sense for a moment. Everyone understands that bulk produced dry commercial dog food is cheap and convenient. It has been around since the late 1800′s. The first type of commercial dog food was made of wheat, vegetables and beef blood. It wasn’t readily available until the end of the first Word War when horse meat was really plentiful and cheap as horses were replaced by cars as the primary form of transportation in the western world. Once tin became less available, dry dog food increased in popularity. But close your eyes for a moment. When you imagine your great grandfather’s dog starving and roaming through open fields, do you see him stopping to chew on some wheat, or attacking mice, rabbits and small live animals to eat? Exactly. Given a choice, not many dogs are going to choose an ear o corn over a nice raw steak. Just because it is is convenient and cheap, it does not mean that bulk dog food is the healthy choice for your dog. A dog’s digestive system has not evolved enough in the last 100 years to be able to process a diet so completely different than it has been digesting for millions of years. It’s just common sense.
Ok so it’s easy enough to argue that dogs should be eating meat, not grains. But raw? Well, in order to make commercial dog food the ingredients are heated up to well over 100 degrees, pretty much killing most of the enzymes and nutrients that your dog needed to get from the food in order to be healthy and thrive.
So what foods are included in a raw food diet for dogs? Primarily meat, fish (yes, fish bones are still a problem!) eggs and some vegetables. Many dog owners who try it for just a month swear that they see a dramatic difference in their dogs coat, energy level and vitality. Many skin issues and ear infections (common side effects of allergic reactions in dogs) disappear within days and do not return. Many owners who have struggled with expensive vet bills, repeated allergy shots and skin treatments for their dogs swear that a raw food diet is the best dog food for dogs with allergies. The strongest proponents of a raw food diet for dogs claim that on average this type of diet can significantly increase their beloved companion’s lifespan.