Your pet dog needs to be on the best and relevant food diet from the very first day, to remain in optimal health. It is tough to choose healthy food for a pet dog when multiple options are available in the market. We present an actionable list of tips to help you with the selection.
Understanding the Dietary Needs
Every dog breed is different in their dietary requirements. The age of the pet, activity level and reproductive age are the necessary determiners of dietary requirements. Every stage of their life will require different foods. A pregnant dog, lactating dog or a growing puppy needs a higher amount of calories than a neutered or a spayed dog.
Healthy and growing dogs need about 20%-25% of their calorie intake from protein. The maximum fat you can give is 18% and 6% in the lower range. The higher amount of fat often leads to pancreatitis in dogs.
Feel the ribs or the waistline of the dog with hands. If the ribs can be easily felt, it means that the pet is in good health condition. If the pet seems heavier or too thin, cut back on calories or add calories by a margin of 15% to 25%. Level the food intake once the balance is achieved.
Excessive calories will be deposited in the body as fat, no matter whether it is from proteins, fats or carbohydrates. You surely do not want that, right?
Talk to the Veterinarian
Find and consult a vet periodically about your dog’s diet requirement, in each passing phase of life. If the dog has certain health conditions like a food allergy, kidney disease or diabetes, the vet will work with you to develop a relevant diet plan.
Usually, dogs are allergic to few food items, and they often get diarrhoea tendencies. Usually, diarrhoea sorts out in a day, but if it is chronically persisting, it is a cause for concern. Symptoms like lethargy and decreased appetite should be investigated as the results could warrant a dietary change.
A vet nutritionist can recommend a commercially prepared diet formulation based on the health of the dog.
Choosing Nutritional Foods
If you have the time and dedication, choose to make dog food at home. Countless recipes are available on Google. If not, opt for the commercially created foods, but you need to be choosy. Everything advertised on the TV is not suitable for the dog. The package and images are designed for human buyers but the sake of the furry friend; you need to research and choose.
Food packages with words like “gourmet”, “natural” or “premium” sounds good to our ears, but the pet food manufacturers or the FDA has no clear guidelines on what these terms mean. Again, you have the option to choose between dry and canned dog food. Dogs are comfortable with either but to see which suits better, give them both kinds and see their adoptive rate. If they are not receptive to a particular variety, they will show symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting.
Whatever food you buy, check the certification labels like AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) or any other. The mention of these labels means that the manufacturers need to comply with certain formulation guidelines and they act as an assurance to the consumer that the product they purchased will meet the nutritional requirements of the pet.
Apart from labels, check for the ingredients. While dogs are omnivores, their primary diet should include mean and not “meat by-product”. Unless you are feeding the dog a vegetarian diet, the first ingredient in the list should be meat only. Again, before selecting any particular brand of dog food on a long-term basis, compare the ingredients between different brands. They are usually listed by the percentage in which it is included in the food.
Your pet’s present body weight is a strong determiner of how much food you should feed presently. The labels usually mention a “proximate analysis” which gives a basic idea about the amount of fibre, fat, and proteins. When buying, check for the food expiry date. Avoid buying food packs near their expiry data even if it is available at a discounted price.
Use your judgment to buy the best quality of dog food. Always consult a vet and if feasible, opt for making dog food at home. In any case, you can always contact your local vet for more advice and information.