Making a decision on what to feed the canine member of your family can be quite challenging. With so many pet food manufacturers claiming to produce the best dog food on the market, any pet owner will easily get literally hoodwinked into trying out as many different brands as possible just to ensure they’re giving their pets the best there is. The ultimate question really is, how can a loving pet owner go about choosing a healthy kind of dog food?
Determine the exact nutritional requirements of your pet:
A good way to start is to assess the health of your dog. Since you have most likely been feeding your pet some brand or type of food already, you should be able to know if your pet’s current diet is proving to be beneficial to the overall health of your pet or if it has simply been causing problem after problem with your pet and needs to be replaced with something else. Take note of the health problems your dog has been facing, and take them alongside the positive points on health you have seen in your pet.
Include any conditions for which your faithful canine has had to visit the veterinarian for, such as tartar buildup, bad breath, infected ears, a thinning, smelly, flaky or greasy coat, itchy paws, too much gas, frequent diarrhea or constipation and incontinence, fleas and worms, too high or low energy, aggressive behavior, maybe even frequently goopy eyes.
Some positive health points can include fresh breath, alert and bright eyes, non-stinky ears, a glossy coat, no itching, regular and problem-free elimination, a normal energy level and appetite, good social behavior, among others. If the positive elements far outweigh the negative issues, your dog’s diet may prove to be more than adequate for your dog’s needs. If the opposite is true, your pet might do well with a diet shift, along with guidance and examination from an expert on veterinary care.
In addition, do some research on the ingredients in your pet’s food, along with the proper fat and protein levels plus caloric levels. Find out if there has to be adjustments made on those terms.
Remember that feeding your pet ‘tasty bits’ may simply be feeding your ego as the pet owner without offering proper nutritional care to your dog. It’s just like feeding kids with food that make them fat but unhealthy.
In determining the nutritional requirements of your pet, consider its specific calorie needs. Not all of those calories should be sourced from a single kind of nutrient such as pure carbohydrate or pure protein. With a healthy body condition, your pet will have a waist and its ribs should be easily palpated using the flat of your hand. Should your dog be heavier than normal, cut back on the calories for a month by at least 10 to 25 percent, then re-evaluate. If your pet appears to be too thin, do the reverse and increase caloric intake by 10 or 25 percent. Take note of the results. Find the optimum levels that provide optimal weight.
Your dog is likely to store extra calories, whether from carbohydrates, protein or fat, on its body. Too much fat endangers your dog from pancreatitis, in the same way a high level of protein could.
Take note of your pet’s activity and growth levels and age:
The nutrition and energy requirements of your pet are personalized based on its age, activity level and growth levels, as well as its reproductive stage. Pet food is often designed for specific life stages of your pet. An older pet will not require too many calories due to reduced activity levels, compared to a frisky and perpetually active younger dog. During pregnancy or lactation, your pet will also need more caloric intake compared to a pet that has been spayed or neutered.
A perpetually active dog will need more energy to maintain its condition, which is also what growing puppies need compared to adult dogs.
Ideally, the fat level should be at moderate levels while the protein level kept high, which ensures support for growing muscles and organs. Obesity makes puppies more prone to degenerative diseases of the joints, especially in large dog breeds. This is compared to puppies with a optimal or slim build.
Depending on its breed, your dog may become a senior faster or slower than others. Typically, larger dog breeds age faster. As your pet ages, it will need lower caloric levels to maintain its body weight and health condition due to reduced activity levels compared to when it was younger.
Consult a veterinary professional:
The term ‘all-natural’ can have a variety of implications. A pet owner will have to do some research or directly work in collaboration with a veterinary care expert on what to feed their dog. When we say ‘veterinary care expert’, we do not refer to a pet food salesperson who has probably memorized a ton of literature fed to them by pet food manufacturers. This doesn’t refer to a specific website either. It always makes sense to consult a veterinarian or trained and certified nutritionist before making any decision on what to feed your pet and how to develop a healthy diet plan. Don’t forget to include in the discussion the list you have prepared on health issues and health positives, where your dog’s diet can play a huge role.
Be wary of commercial dog food:
Advertisements on TV, in magazines and stores are geared toward pet owners, not their pets. The label on the bag or can is also designed to catch the eye of humans. Now, unless you have a dog from outer space that can see and read beyond labels and appreciate commercials, the burden of proof on the efficacy of every pet food you see on the market lies on your shoulders. It is best to do some research to ensure your pet can optimize what you get for it. Even the eye-catching marketing terms such as natural, premium or gourmet don’t have actual but just commercial value.
Bear in mind that deciding on commercially prepared dog food or diet formulation may entail seeking the help of a veterinary nutritionist.
Getting the best pet food for your dog doesn’t depend on being able to point out the best advertisements on this type of product or being able to memorize a salesman’s spiel to heart. In the end, the amount of time you spend on research and consulting with a veterinarian will count more towards ensuring health maintenance for your canine friend.