Avoid Cheap Dog Food
When shopping for dog food, pet food stores offer a wide variety of choices.
“There are foods on the market which are very easy and tasty for your dog but don’t provide the highest nutrition,” says Dr. Katy Nelson, a Virginia-based veterinarian. She has consulted on the nutritional makeup of dog food products. “Even though your pet may be excited about what’s in their bowl, it won’t necessarily glow afterward, just like people who regret those visits to fast-food restaurants.”
How can we tell the difference? Like with fast food for people, very inexpensive dog food may indicate a less nutritious meal.
“Generally, the higher-priced premium brands have higher-quality ingredients
and specialized nutrients,” says Dr. Amy Dicke, a veterinarian who also consults on the nutritional aspects of pet food.
As a general rule, it’s wise to feed your pet the best food you can afford.
“From foods which use human-quality sources, to foods which use the scraps off of the slaughterhouse floor, you truly do get what you pay for most of the time,” says Nelson.
After price, look at the list of ingredients. Like we screen our food labels for unsaturated fats or high fructose corn syrup, there are things to look out for on dog food ingredients lists.
Because ingredients are listed in order of quantity, “always look at the first three ingredients on your pet food’s bag,” says Nelson. “If there is corn or something with the word ‘gluten’ in those first few ingredients, step away and keep looking.” Gluten, a vegetable protein, is a cheap alternative to protein from animal sources. But animal protein is more nutritious for your pet.
How Can You Spot A Good Quality Dog Food?
Although it’s not a panacea, there is a seal of approval you can look for. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides pet food guidelines and regulates ingredients’ naming.
“AAFCO’s nutritional adequacy statement identifies the food is nutritionally complete and balanced and contains all of the required nutrients,” says Dicke.
Beyond that, there’s still variation. But Nelson recommends at least avoiding foods without AAFCO approval.
Special-Needs Dog Food
Many foods are tailored to particular circumstances, like a dog’s health or age. Dicke says AAFCO also regulates these claims. Choosing the right one for your dog involves matching your dog to the goal of the product, which typically falls into the following three categories:
Body Size/Activity Levels
According to Dicke, “Pets that are overweight or underweight need different nutrition than those who are at an optimal weight. Pets who get lots of exercise also have different nutritional requirements.” These food labels include weight control, performance, or maintenance.
Your dog may have a condition requiring a therapeutic, or prescription, formula. For instance, dogs with sensitive stomachs can benefit from foods containing prebiotics. These non-digestible food ingredients stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria that help the digestive system. Other blends are specialized for heart health, dental health, bone/joint health, and more.
Ask Your Veterinarian About the Right Food For Your Dog
In the end, however, Nelson says the most important thing is to discuss your dog’s food options with your veterinarian. She says the most significant mistake people make when choosing food is seeking advice from the sales associate at the pet store rather than their veterinarian.
“Your veterinarian can help you find the food that’s best because they know the particular issues that your pet deals with,” she says. “Your veterinarian has the best interests of your pet in mind.”
How To Avoid Common Dog Feeding Issues
When George Kingsley‘s seven-year-old Pug Sophie began vomiting a couple of times per week after meals, he quickly asked her veterinarian about the problem. “My vet describes her, politely, as being ‘not a delicate eater,’ which means she scarfs down her kibble,” the Brooklyn, New York, dog owner says. “He suggested giving her each meal in smaller portions so that the food would have time to move through her digestive tract. Now I give her half her breakfast when I get up, and the other half 30 minutes or so later, and do the same with dinner.”
Portioning solved Sophie’s problem with keeping her food down. For this and other sometimes-elusive solutions to common mealtime blunders, Gail Buchwald of the ASPCA offers nine quick and easy fixes.
In Multi-Pet Homes, Cats and Dogs Or Two Or More Dogs Eat Side By Side.
Multiple pets should have separate eating areas to avoid competition over resources and food guarding behaviors. “Create a calm feeding environment. It will help your pets’ digestion,” says Buchwald.
Some Mornings You’re Out the Door By Seven, While Others You’re In Bed Past Nine. Fido Is Fed Soon After Your Alarm Goes Off — Whenever That May Be.
When you sleep in, feed your furry friend as soon as you wake up. When you’re leaving home early, don’t pour the kibble until you’re just about to leave. “Dogs need to maintain a regular feeding schedule,” says Buchwald.
Heaping Bowls Of Food Have Left Your Always-Hungry Pooch Without A Waistline.
Talk to your veterinarian about a healthy weight for your dog and its ideal caloric intake — then change your pet’s diet accordingly. “There’s a huge obesity problem among dogs,” says Buchwald. “Vets see more and more of it, along with the weight-related conditions that we see in people, like diabetes and arthritis.” To protect your dog’s health, whittle its waist.
Your Dog Licks Its Bowl, So Why Waste Water Washing It?
When feeding wet food, the bowl should be washed after every meal. With dry food, washing every other day should be sufficient. And don’t forget the water dish (clean with soap and water once a day). “Dirty bowls harbor bacteria,” reminds Buchwald.
Every Time Rover Pleads With Those Big Brown Eyes, You Melt and Give Him What He Wants: A Treat.
Give pieces of treats rather than entire biscuits, or substitute a canine-friendly vegetable (e.g., a green bean) for a cookie. “Treats should make up less than five percent of a dog’s daily caloric intake,” advises Buchwald.
Your Post-Breakfast Walk Occurs Immediately After the Morning Meal and Often Includes a Brief Jog.
You can’t run on the treadmill after eating, and neither should your dog. Wait 30 minutes between mealtime and exercise.
The Pet Store Is Out Of Your Dog’s Favorite Kibble, So You Purchase Something Else and Begin Using It That Very Night.
Be sure to shop for your pet’s food when you still have a week’s supply. If you need to change, make the switch gradually over one week. “Start with a quarter cup of the new food and three-quarters cup of the old for one or two days, seeing how your dog tolerates it. If everything goes smoothly, move on to 50-50 for a couple of days, and then a quarter cup of the old food mixed in with three-quarters of the new,” advises Buchwald.
Your Dog’s Only Meal Is In The Morning.
Like people, pooches need to eat more than once a day. Daily breakfast and dinner are ideal. “Dogs are diurnal, like us. They’re up with the sun and ready for sleep at night, and they need nutrition throughout the day.”
Who Could Resist That Face Begging At the Dinner Table? Leftovers From Your Plate Always Find Their Way Into Your Dog’s Mouth.
Create a no-table-scraps policy and stick with it. “What we eat is not healthy for our dogs,” says Buchwald. Besides contributing to obesity, people food can cause stomach upset or even death for our best friends. The list of forbidden foods is long, and it’s difficult to avoid them all. A no-go rule is your best antidote to this problem.
Of course, dog feeding isn’t an exact science. Become familiar with your dog’s food-related behaviors, as well as ahem, “output.” Changes in Fido’s gustatory patterns can clue you in that the menu, or its delivery, warrant further examination. Your dog’s stomach will thank you for it.
Are People Food Snacks Bad For My Dog?.
Let’s say you take your dog on a walk, and, along the way, you decide to stop at an outdoor cafe, and your dog finds some snacks lying on the ground. If you’re like me, you do whatever you can to make sure your dog does not eat anything off the sidewalk. Potato chips, bread crumbs, and pickles aren’t, after all, part of a dog’s regular daily diet. But honestly, how much damage can a quick snack do?
The answer is, every dog from both behavior and dietary perspective is different. Some dogs can eat a snack, and it won’t harm their dietary routine, others might get the wrong idea and start begging for anything other than what’s in their bowl.