22 September 2008

What to Feed Your Dog?

Nowadays, more and more people feed dogs at home, how to make them healthy and strong? what to feed them?

Dog foods come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Wet dog food is used primarily for those canines with particular taste palettes or as an intermittent treat. For the less discriminating, dog dry food varieties are available. It is not necessarily the delicate palette of a dog that determines what type of food it eats, but rather a combination of its dietary need, availability of the food brand in the area, owner preferences, and financial cost.

Consider the Dog’s Stage of Life
Just like humans, dogs require varying amounts of energy depending on their age. It is important to choose a dog food variety that reflects this. A puppy should be fed a food designed for puppies up until about a year of age. At this time they are developing muscle and bone and require a greater amount of protein and calcium. Most dog food lines have foods available for large breed puppies as well. Larger dogs, such as mastiffs or great danes, tend to grow very quickly which can put a lot of pressure on the growth plates leading to bone and joint problems. Foods designed for large breeds contain the right proportion of energy and protein so as to make sure they don’t grow fast, but grow properly.

Another important transition is going from an adult food to a senior food. Older animals require less energy because their metabolism is slowing and they usually are not as active. Their food should provide enough calories to maintain ideal body weight, but not too much that they become obese.

Regular, Holistic, and Organic Foods

Once those questions have been answered, the dog owner must decide which type of food is best: regular, holistic, or organic food. Those dog foods that are labeled as the “regular” dog food are those that may be readily found on any supermarket shelf. These products are usually made of a lower quality grade food and have less stringent quality controls. Holistic foods are predominantly labeled as such and have a high quality food grade, strict quality control measures on the production of their food, and are fortified with higher quantities of nutrients and minerals. Organic dog foods are comparable to human organic foods. They do not use preservatives or chemicals in their foods, and all ingredients are made locally within the country and are of an organic quality.

As each food has both positive and negative attributes to it, choosing a food is a very personal choice for each dog owner to make. However, there are some recommendations when deciding between these types of food. Dog owners will want to choose a dog food that:

Is appropriate for the age of the dog.
Has the highest nutrients and minerals needed for the dog.
Contains real meat (duck, fish, chicken, lamb) or “meal” within its first 2 ingredients.

Contains the proper protein and fat percentages for the dog’s breed and age. (Walk with your veterinarian for recommended guidelines.)
Does not have any “by-product” as listed as a main ingredient.
Provides easy-to-read feeding guidelines on the package.
Provides a company contact phone number on the package and is readily available to answer any questions or concerns dog owners may have about the product.
Once these questions are answered, you should have a better understanding of the quality of food that is best for your dog. This will help narrow the list to a few specific brands that can then be checked to make sure they meet any health concerns your dog may have.

The most popular choices of dog foods are:
Dry Dog Food. Feeding your dog with dry dog food, usually in small pieces of kibbles, is perhaps one of the most popular choices among dog owners. However, not all dog food brands use high quality natural ingredients. Ensure to read the label of ingredients listed before purchasing any brands of dog food. Here are some guidelines to help you to have some ideas of what the label actually tells you:No Preservative, Artificial Colors and Flavors. Generally, natural dog food contains no preservative, artificial colors and flavors. Consumption of these components may be harmful to your dog’s health if taken in a long run. Avoid those that labeled “chemical additives as a source of flavor”.