Your dog is an important part of your family, and probably one of your best friends as well. You take good care of it, groom it, and take it on long playful walks in the park. But do you know what you’re feeding it? A lot of pet owners don’t really know what’s in the dog food that they buy. They pick a ‘good brand’ trusting that if they’re paying a bit extra for something trusted in the store, then the ingredients will probably be up to scratch and be good for their dog’s health.

Sadly, it’s not that simple. Just as expensive, high-quality ice-cream is still ice cream and therefore a ‘sometimes food’ that we humans should eat in moderation, the same goes for expensive dog food. Just because it’s a big brand it doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for canine friend’s health. We’ve actually reviewed our favorite cheap dog foods here!

Grain Can Irritate Your Dog’s Bowels

SomeĀ dogs don’t get on with gluten found in wheat or corn, so using grain-free dog food could help to reduce their risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Gluten is often used as a binding agent, and while some dogs can tolerate it, some dogs feel much better when they are on a grain-free diet. Another ingredient which can increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease is carrageenan, which is often used as a binding agent in place of gluten. See some great hypoallergenic dog food options right here.

Dogs Don’t Need Sugar

Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose are often added to pet food to act as a preservative and to increase calorie density. There’s no need to be feeding your dog foods with added sugar. Indeed, many pets are becoming overweight because they are being given hugely calorie dense foods. Talk to your vet and ask them what a healthy weight would be for your dog.

Dyes and Preservatives Should be A No-No

We are so far removed from the food chain as humans these days that we don’t know what good food looks like. Many dog food companies add dyes to their products to make them look more appealing to humans. Yet, those same dyes are banned from use in human foods. They add no nutritional value, and they could be harmful to pets.

The same goes for preservatives such as propylene glycol, BHT or BHA. There is some evidence that these substances could be carcinogenic, but because they have not been banned for use in pet food yet, companies are still adding them. This is one area where it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Signs of Quality Pet Food

High quality dog food should contain species-appropriate sources of protein, such as real, de-boned chicken, other meats and organs. Dried kelp can be a useful ingredient because it is rich in minerals, and sweet potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber. Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, because white potatoes contain too much solanine, which can be a source of inflammation.

Some dog foods contain spinach. This is a brilliant source of vitamins A, B, C and K. If your dog is generally healthy, then spinach-containing dog food is a good choice. If your dog has a history of oxalate stones, then you should avoid foods containing spinach to reduce the risk of the stones returning.

Berries and Mangoes are rich in vitamins, and are a nice way to sweeten dog food rather than using sugar

Salmon oil and Flaxseed oil are good sources of healthy fats.

Consult Your Vet Before Changing Your Dog’s Diet

veterinarian-and-dog-looking-each-otherBefore you make any significant changes to your dog’s diet, it is important that you consult a vet. Your vet will be able to tell you if your dog is getting enough (or too much) food, and what nutrients are particularly important for that breed. Each breed has its own needs and preferences.

Wet Vs Dry Dog Food

Be sure to read the labels on all dog food that you buy quite carefully, and pay attention to storage requirements and preparation instructions. Dry dog food is usually easier to store and will keep longer, but there are a lot of benefits to wet foods as well. A lot of dogs fail to take in as much liquid as they need, and wet foods can help to ensure that they get enough hydration. Older animals often lose some of their sense of smell, and may not be as tempted to eat dry food which has less of an odor, but might find that wet foods are more appealing to them. This means that if your pet is losing its appetite, then wet dog food could help to offset some of that.

There is a case for both types of food, though. Dry food can be left out for pets to eat at their leisure, and won’t spoil as quickly. It has less strong of a smell, which can be nice for humans who perhaps dislike the smell of wet food. In addition, it’s useful to take on trips with you, or to leave out if you are going to be out of the house for a long time and want to make sure that your pet has enough to eat.

Take a look at a few different types of food, read the ingredients, and study what you can offer to your pet. Give them the chance to try a few different foods, even perhaps chickpeas for protein, and see what appeals to them so you can let them enjoy the best possible nutrition.

 

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