Ultimate Guide: Dog Food – Everything you need to know

2018-11-27T06:30:45+00:00

Being a dog owner means being responsible for your dog’s daily needs. It is not just about walking your dog and taking him to the veterinarian; it means you are also responsible for providing your dog healthy and nutritious food. A lot of dog owners lack basic knowledge of canine nutrition. They only shop for the dog based on whatever is cheap. This is a huge mistake which can cost your dog’s god health making it suffer throughout its life.

Part One – The Basics

The most important factor that determines his ong and healthy life is quality nutrition. As a dog owner it is your responsibility to provide your dog with healthy and nutritious food. This article is the ultimate guide which will make you understand everything about canine nutrition and why is it so important for your dog. This article also covers the different kinds of dog food available in the market and how to select the best one for your pooch amongst the lot by reading dog food labels properly. This article also covers seven of the best and most recommended dog food brands available in the market today. Read on and share with other dog owners as well if you want to give the best possible life to your furry friend.

Why is Nutrition So Important?

Think about the time when you followed an unhealthy diet; how did you feel? Perhaps you were not being too conscious of what you put on your plate or were in a vacation where you indulged in a lot of rich food and sweets. Or maybe you were too lazy to cook an preferred the easy way instead, junk food. How did you feel after following such an unhealthy diet? Did u find it difficult to get through your entire day? Did you feel your body lacking in energy? Did find it difficult to put your undivided attention and focus on to different things?

We all know that the food we eat has a direct impact on how we feel and our overall health and well being in the long run. The same principle also applies in case of your dog and hence, proper nutrition and a healthy diet is extremely important for your dog’s good health.

Dietary Requirements

If you want your dog to lead a long, healthy and strong life you cannot look away from your responsibility of providing him with the best possible nutrition and a healthy diet. It is extremely important for you to understand as a dog owner that your dog’s dietary requirements differ your from your own. This is something that most dog owners overlook and feed their dogs cheap dog food and table scraps. This ultimately leads to the deterioration of their dogs’ health, they either put on too much weight or become underweight. The longer you provide your dog with an unhealthy diet, the more it will risk his quality of life. A lot of people choose cheap dog food to save some money but ultimately regret when they have to pay for expensive veterinary bills and treatments when their dogs fall sick. An unhealthy diet can also steal your dog’s happiness and activeness.

A dog is not just a companion or pet, he is much more than that. In fact, a pet dog is a part of the family. Hence, he too deserves the same love, care and respond that you give to your other family members. The good health and well being of your spouse, children, parents etc always tops your priority list and so must your dog’s as well.

Providing your dog with good and nutritious food does not always have to be expensive. There are plenty of dog food brands that provide quality food at low prices. The only thing important here is that you need to learn is where and what to look for. This article is the ultimate go to guide you will ever need to understand everything about canine nutrition and choosing the best possible dog food for your loving furry companion.

Foods That Are Harmful to Dogs

Before getting into what food is beneficial for your dog, let us first clear out the ones which you must absolutely NOT feed him. Dogs generally love eating and will gulp down anything that hits the floor. However, certain human foods are not really safe for dogs. People generally believe that if it is safe for us then probably it is safe for the dogs too. But there are many human foods that can actually be toxic and dangerous for your dogs. Unfortunately, your dog cannot know what is good for him and what’s not hence, it is your job to protect him for these unsafe food items.

Below is list of food items that may be dangerous when consumed by dogs.

Dangerous Foods for Dogs:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Avocado
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • Coffee
  • Cooked bones
  • Dairy products
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Persimmons
  • Plums
  • Raisins
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw fish
  • Raw meat
  • Salt
  • Salty foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Tea
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast dough

Proper storage is the best way to protect your dog from ingesting all these food items that can be harmful for him. Make sure you store all of your food in tight lidded containers and put them on higher levels of the shelves that is not reachable for your dog. Never leave any of your food uncovered on the kitchen counter. If your dog has any of the potentially toxic food items, immediately call your veterinary doctor and dog expert. Make sure you have the food item with you so that you can give accurate information about what and how much your dog ate. The experts will guide you on what to do and where to take your dog next. However, it is advisable to always research about nearest dog experts and veterinary care specialists before you get a puppy so you can save valuable time during the time of emergency.

Understanding the Basics of Canine Nutrition

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about dog is that each of is the same. However, this is not true. A bowl of dog food is much more than something that just fills your dog’s tummy; it must include all the basic nutrients required for your dog’s good health and well being. As a responsible dog owner, you must know what these nutrients are and how much your dog needs of each of it in order to stay healthy and fit.

The most important elements that you need to focus on for a nutritious diet for your dog are – protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. You need to make sure your meet your dog’s requirement of each of these elements in specific ratios. Below is a more elaborated detail of each of these elements.

Important Nutrients

  • Protein – Besides water, protein is the element which is the most prevalent in your dog’s body. Protein is an extremely essential element as it acts as building blocks for tissues, muscles, cartilage, tendons and even other external parts such as skin, nails, hair etc. This element is also important in some of the most important bodily functions such as digestion and hormone production. Protein can be divided into two classes – complete and incomplete which are based on amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Your dog needs twenty four different amino acids but his body is able to synthesize only twelve of them. Hence, the rest of the ten amino acids must be derived from your dog’s diet. This is also why these are called “essential” amino acids. Complete proteins are the ones which have all ten essential amino acids and can be derived from various animal products such as poultry, meat, fish and eggs. On the other hand the proteins derived from plant products are incomplete proteins because they are devoid of all ten essential amino acids except a few.
  • Fat – In contrast to what you generally think of fat, it is not the enemy of your dog’s diet and in fact is one of the crucial nutrients for him. In order to have a proper growth and overall health and wellness, your dog requires plenty of fat in his diet. Fat also promotes good health of your furry friend’s skin, coat and kidney function. Just like humans, fats are of two types – good fats and bad fats. Most of the healthy fats can be derived from various high quality animal based sources such as salmon oil and chicken fat. Plant based fats are not bad for your dog as well however, they are not as biologically convenient as your dog’s body cannot derive nutrition from these sources easily.
  • Carbohydrate – We, humans, generally have a carbohydrate heavy diet because it contains glucose – the most easy source of energy. However, your dog’s body requirements differs greatly than yours. Biologically, your dog’s body can derive required nutrition efficiently mostly from animal based products. Your dog can also derive energy from plant based sources in the form of glucose only if it is easily digestible. There is no specific requirement of carbohydrate for your dog however, 5% of his daily diet is usually considered sufficient.
  • Fiber – Just like carbohydrates, dietary fiber comes from plant based sources as well. Fiber is not digestible by the body however it is essential as it helps in giving bulk to stool so that it can be passed through the digestive system easily. It also helps in absorbing water which keeps the body hydrated. You must also remember to not include too much fiber in your dog’s diet as its excess can cause various detrimental effects, digestive issues and can also interfere in the process of nutrient absorption of your dog’s body.
  • Vitamins – Just like all living beings, your dog too needs various vitamins in his diet that can be derived from various plant based and animal based sources. These vitamins are extremely essential for your dog as they work together with enzymes in order to promote various important bodily functions. Your dog’s body requires a mix of both fat soluble and water soluble vitamins in his diet. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins while vitamins B and C are the water soluble ones.
  • Minerals – Minerals are inorganic substances that work with enzymes to promote important bodily functions of your dog and occur naturally in certain foods. Minerals are also found in your dog’s bones, teeth, blood, muscles and nerves. Some of the essential vitamins required for your dog’s good health and well being are calcium, iodine, chloride, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium, sodium, sulfur and zinc.
  • Water – Most people do not consider water as a nutrient but in reality it is the most essential nutrient for all forms of life. Water is extremely important for the well being of your dog too as two thirds of his body is comprised of water. It promotes proper working of various important bodily functions such as respiration, digestion, metabolism, etc and helps the body in maintaining proper balance in every part. Always make sure you provide your dog unlimited access to fresh water every day, especially when the weather is hot and during periods of exercise.

These were the basics of the seven key nutrients essential in your dog’s diet and their importance in order to make your dog lead a healthy life. Before getting to know how to incorporate these nutrients in your dog’s food, let us first look at how much of each of these nutrients your dog needs and how these requirements can change as he ages.

How Do Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs Change with Age?

Difference between Obligate Carnivore and Scavenging Carnivore

A lot people think dogs to be carnivores however, this is not entirely true. Animals having biological necessity for meat are called “obligate” carnivores, for example – cats. The term “obligate carnivore” is changed with “true carnivore” very often. On the other hand, dogs can be termed as more carnivorous than herbivorous. This is because their bodies have only limited ability to digest food from plant based sources and derive nutrition from them. This why dogs are called as scavenging carnivores. Their primary diet must consist of animal based food products but they can also have other plant based foods like fruits, grains, vegetables etc as long as they are in limited quantities. Wild wolves are another example of scavenging carnivores. They depend on other foods to survive when meat is scarce.

Protein Requirement

From the above you can know that your dog is a scavenging carnivore and hence protein and carbohydrate both play important roles in his nutrition. This is to be noted that even though most of your dog’s diet needs to consist of animal based products, you must also make sure to provide him enough carbohydrates in order to ensure nutritional balance. You already know from the previous section that protein helps in building healthy muscles and tissues in your dog’s body hence, it is the most important nutrient in his diet. Generally, a puppy’s diet must consist of at least 22% protein and an adult dog’s diet must consist of 18% protein at a minimum. Always remember, this values are just the minimum amounts, it is always better to incorporate more protein in your dog’s diet.

Fat Requirement

Fat is another critical nutrient required for your dog’s good health. Essential fatty acids derived from fats are required by your dog’s body to absorb and utilize certain vitamins. Fats also play a crucial role in promoting proper functioning of different various bodily functions. Fats are the most highly concentrated form of energy for dogs; they contain nine calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates contains only four calories per each gram. Your dog’s diet must consist a minimum of 8% fats as a puppy and at least 5% fats for your adult dog’s balanced diet, ideally from animal based sources. Usually, puppies and small breed dogs require fats in higher quantities in order to sustain their growth by the extra calories. However, excess of fats can lead to complications such as overweight and obesity.

Other Nutrients

As dogs are carnivorous animals, they do not have any specific amounts of carbohydrate requirement in their diets. You can provide plant based products to your dog as they provide carbohydrate energy as well as some of the important vitamins and minerals. However, keep in mind not to exceed the quantities as your dog’s body has limited ability to digest plant based products and derive nutrition from them. Dietary fiber found in carbohydrate is important to support your dog’s digestion but too much of it can lead to digestive problems. Always keep in mind to never give your dog food which has more than 5% crude fiber. Make sure the carbohydrate incorporated in your dog’s diet is derived from highly digestible sources like cooked whole grains, vegetables etc.

Life Stage Formulas

There are different kinds of dog food available in the market. You can find various formulas which are separately marketed for puppies, adult dogs and some even for senior dogs. These kinds of dog food and formulas which targets dogs of specific age groups are called life stage formulas. This is because even though dogs have almost the same basic nutritional requirements, the ratios and amounts of various elements may change as they age. Let us consider puppies for an instance, since they are in a growing stage they require plenty of protein, fat and other joint and bone supporting nutrients. On the other hand, adult dogs require a diet with balanced protein and fat in order to sustain lean muscle mass and have enough energy without exceeding or receding the calorie scale. Senior dogs require plenty of protein as well but lower levels of fat since their metabolism considerably slows down with age. In addition to that, senior dogs also require vitamins and minerals for a good bone and joint health along with undisturbed digestion and vision.

 

Part Two – How to Choose a Food and Understand Ingredient Labels

What are the Different Types of Dog Food?

Complete and Complementary Foods

There are different types of commercial dog food available in the market. They can be divided into two classes – complete and complementary dog food. Dog foods which contain all nutrients in adequate amounts required for a dog’s diet or, in simple words are nutritionally complete, are called complete dog food. On the other hand, the kind of foods which are not nutritionally complete and are mostly used as treats, meal toppers or supplementary foods are called complementary dog food. Complimentary dog food is not meant to be your dog’s staple diet. The Association of American Feed Control Officials or the AAFCO is responsible for determining which commercial dog foods are complete and which are complementary. They have also created different nutrient profiles depending on their age and life stages. All commercial dog food must be tested and approved before they are put into the market for sales.

There are different types of complete dog food. Below are the details of some of the most common types.

Most Common Types of Dog Food

  • Dry Food – Dry dog food is the most common commercial dog food which is also the most widely preferred by dog owners. Dry dog food is a compilation of various raw ingredients. These ingredients are then cooked after which the mixture is forced through an “extruder”, a device which cuts the mixture into small bite-sized pieces and is most commonly called as kibbles. Dry dog food differs in quality based on the ingredients and manufacturing processes of different companies and brands. These type of dog foods are easy to feed and are very shelf stable.
  • Wet Food – After dry food, wet dog food is the most common and preferred type of dog food. They are available in the market in cans, trays, pouches etc and comes in various forms such as patés, gravy, chunks, shreds, etc. Wet food is cooked in high temperatures however, they also contain higher levels of moisture than dry food. Just like dry food, wet food also differs in quality based on the ingredients present and the manufacturing process used in curating them.
  • Semi-Moist Food – Prior to dry and wet food, semi-moist dog food ruled the market and was the most preferred choice of dog owners. Nowadays, semi-moist dog foods are mostly used as treats, meal toppers or supplementary foods. These kinds of dog foods have soft pellets with a chewy texture. They mostly come in sachets instead of sachets.
  • Fresh/Raw Food – Fresh and raw foods have gained a lot of popularity in recent times and have made their way into dog’s diet. These kinds of dog food products are curated mainly to mimic the natural diet of wild wolves. These products include fresh meat along with cartilage, muscle meat, organs, and raw bones. After this, many dog owners have also started making their own homemade fresh and raw dog food instead of depending on ones. These food products are beneficial for dogs because they are devoid of any artificial ingredients such as chemical preservatives which can be harmful. However, these kinds of food also have their own setbacks as they do not last long and need refrigeration. Again, if not handled carefully, spoilt raw food can cause various illnesses in your dog.
  • Frozen Raw Food – These kinds of dog foods are quite similar to fresh raw food. In contrast to fresh raw food, these come in frozen patties or loaves. These are also more convenient as they can be stored for longer periods of time in a freezer and you can use only the amount you require at a time. Deep freezing also makes it free from the need of adding artificial preservatives.
  • Freeze-Dried/Dehydrated Food – Freeze-dried or dehydrated food is another convenient option for fresh raw food. These type of dog foods is prepared fresh after which they are freeze-dried or dehydrated in order to remove the moisture. This makes the food retain the natural nutrition of raw food but also makes it have a longer shelf life which makes it even more convenient. Freeze-dried foods are usually fed as they are without any other addition, however, some of them also need to reconstituted either with water or broth.

These were some of the main and most commonly used dog foods that are easily available in the market. There are also other subtypes that fall within these mentioned categories. Keep reading to discover the right way of reading a dog food label which will help you decide the best one for your furry companion.

How to Read a Dog Food Label

Now you know your dog’s different nutritional needs and how much of each of the nutrients he requires to remain healthy. You also know about a few different types of basic dog food available in the market. A government body is usually responsible for the regulation of pet food and approving them for sale after doing certain quality tests. Even though regulations are not as strict for pet foods as they are for human foods, you must always make sure to read their labels efficiently and look if they meet certain requirements. In order to make the best choice for your dog, you must know how to extract relevant information from labels of dog food. Generally, there are three main things that you need to emphasize on while reading labels :

  • Guaranteed Analysis.
  • Dry matter basis.
  • List of ingredients.

Guaranteed Analysis

Always make sure to look down for a guaranteed analysis of any dog food product that you wish to buy. Guaranteed analysis is simply the breakdown of different nutrients according to their percentage in the food such as the total percentage of crude protein, fat, fiber, moisture etc. Make sure that these percentages not only meet but exceeds the requirements of your dog’s nutritional needs. Make sure the dog food you purchase has a minimum of 22% crude protein for puppies and 18% for adult dogs. On the other hand, they must contain at least 8% fats for puppies and 5% for adult dogs with crude fiber not exceeding 5%.

Dry Matter Basis

You must also be aware that the type of dog food you buy, in particular, dry and wet food, can affect how each of the nutrients is measured. You must be aware that dry dog food usually contains around 10% moisture while wet dog food contains up to 82% moisture. The amount of moisture present can interfere with how different nutrients are measured in different types of products. For this, you need to make a direct comparison by converting the values of nutrients given in the labels to the same moisture content. This is known as the conversion of food to dry matter basis and below is the formula-

% Ingredient ÷ (100% – % Moisture) ] x 100 = Dry Matter Basis

Always be careful while putting in numbers in decimals. For instance, 10% should always be 0.10, 100% should be 1 and so on.

This conversion method is basically used to find out the amount of dry matter in the food and then divide the percentage of each of the nutrients into that value in order to figure out different dry matter contents. After figuring out these values, you can then make direct comparisons of which type of dog food has the higher content of protein and lower content of carbohydrates. You can also measure the fat content while keeping in mind that puppies and small breed dogs require higher amounts of fats in their diet to support their growth and metabolism. You must also keep in mind that the values of guaranteed analysis do not determine the quality of food. For instance, if any dog food has 35% of protein that is derived from plant based sources then it might not be the best choice for your dog. It is always better to opt for food derived from animal-based or meat-based sources even if they have lesser amounts of protein.

Ingredient List

Another important step of selecting the best possible food for your dog is reading the list of ingredients on the label. Usually, the ingredients are listed in descending order by volume. The ingredient with the highest volume in the dog food is listed at the top of the list and then they descend so on. The ingredients at the top of the list are usually meats and meat meals that are followed by carbohydrates and fats. These main ingredients are followed by dietary fiber, fruits, vegetables, oils, etc. Make sure you read the entire list instead of looking at the ingredients which acquire the top slots. You could miss a potentially dangerous or unhealthy ingredient at a lower slot.

How to Identify a Low-Quality Dog Food Brand

Reading labels of various dog food products is extremely essential as there are certain ingredients that you never want to be a part of your dog’s meal. Knowing the basics of efficiently reading labels of dog food will help you distinguish between high-quality and low-quality brands of dog food. Before we elaborate more on what makes a high-quality dog food product, let us first get in to details of what you never want to see in your pet’s food. It is always easier to a decide when you first eliminate all unwanted choices as this will help you by narrowing down your list.
Below are some of the red flags to look for while shopping for dog food:

  • The first ingredient on the list is not an animal based high quality protein.
  • The first five ingredients of the list have corn, wheat or soy.
  • The ingredient list has a lot of plant based proteins. For example, pea or potato protein.
  • The dog food brand is a store brand or bargain brand.
  • Ingredients like meat are not named explicitly in the list. For instance, “chicken meal” is always better “poultry meal”.
  • The product has a lot of fats and oils that are derived from plant based sources and not animal based sources.
  • The product has ingredients like carbohydrates from processed grains, that are not highly digestible by dogs.
  • Certain ingredients on the list have names that are chemical like along with being hard to identify. (excluding supplements of vitamins and minerals.)
  • The product has a lot of additives such as preservatives, artificial colors and flavors.
  • The product contains one or more than one by-product or by-product meals.
  • The product contains quite a lot of synthetic supplements.
  • The supplements present in the product is not digestible.
  • The product has a long list of ingredients but they are not of high quality.

The thing about low quality dog foods is that manufacturers of such foods will do everything to keep their costs down. This means such manufacturers use more plant based ingredients, for example, wheat and corn. However, reading ingredient lists and understanding what your dog food actually contains can be quite tricky at times. There are instances of manufacturers listing low quality ingredients present their product at the bottom of the list so that they do not catch the eye of the customers.

Splitting Ingredients

As we already know manufacturers tend to use more plant based products to keep their costs down. They also list the same ingredient into separate ones. For instance, we can see find numerous dog foods with ingredients such as corn, corn flour, corn meal etc on their ingredients list instead of listing it as just corn. Doing this breaks down the volume of these ingredients which makes the higher quality ones rise up to the top of the list. Hence, make sure to keep an eye on splitting of ingredients on the lists of dog food products.

Tips for Choosing a High-Quality Dog Food

Ingredient Sources

After you know what not to look for in order to choose a high quality dog food, you can narrow down your options with better understanding of what actually makes a high quality dog food product. The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that the product you chose is tested and approved by the board responsible for the regulation of animal food. After that, make sure you check the guaranteed analysis of the product to know how much of protein, fats, carbohydrate etc is present in it. If these points meet your requirements move on to check the list of ingredients of the product. It is advisable that you read the entire list to have a better idea of what goes in the product of your choice and so that it does not have any such ingredients which can be potentially harmful for your dog. You must also put emphasis on the first five or ten ingredients as these are the ones with highest volume and will have the greatest effect on your pet dog.

Difference between Meat and Meat Meal

While you are checking the list of ingredients, you would want want to see a high quality source of protein derived from animal based sources as the first ingredient like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, seafood etc. This is because protein is the most important ingredient for your dog’s health and well being. Sometimes these ingredients can be listed as either meat or meal which can be quite confusing for the dog owners. A meat meal is actually a more highly concentrated source of protein than fresh meat which has been cooked first in order to remove the moisture. Usually, fresh meat has upto 80% of moisture which means when they are cooked and lose their moisture, they become more highly concentrated. If the ingredient list s made according to volume of nutrients after cooking, such meat meals can acquire a higher slot at the list.

Animal and Plant Protein Sources

It is okay if you see several protein based ingredients on top of the list of ingredients. However, what you must look out for are plant based proteins. As you already know protein derived from plant based sources are less biologically valuable for your dog because they are not as digestible as proteins derived from animal based sources. Hence, look out for ingredients such that of pea protein or potato protein. Since, meat protein is expensive than plant protein, low quality pet food manufacturers tend to add more plant based proteins to increase the protein content of the product along with cutting down their costs.

Carbohydrate Sources

After you have confirmed that the product has an animal source of protein on the top of the ingredient list, it is now time to move on to the next ingredient which is the carbohydrate. Always remember that the product has a maximum 5% of crude fiber and all the carbohydrate must be derived from highly digestible sources for your dog. Some of the best carbohydrates to look out for are whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice, vegetables with high starch content like potatoes and sweet potatoes, and others like beans and legumes. It is also important for you to remember that beans and legumes contain plant protein hence, make sure the product also has plenty of animal based protein and not just from plant based sources. If your dog is sensitive to grains, opting for grain free products is probably the best idea. Look out for other options which contains beans, legumes and vegetables with high starch content.

Fat Sources

After carbohydrate, the next nutrient that you need to look out for is fats. In contrast to what people generally think, fats are actually quite healthy and much beneficial for your dog as they provide a very concentrated source of energy. Just like protein, you must also make sure that the fat in the product is derived from animal based sources and not from plant based sources. This is because your dog’s body is biologically adapted to absorb nutrients better from animal based sources. For instance, products with salmon oil is always better than the ones with canola oil in them. You must also keep in mind that the ingredient list actually has the name of animal based sources like look for chicken fat instead of just poultry fat. A lot of commercial dog foods have several sources of fat instead of just one. However, what matters is the quality of fat rather than just the number of sources. You must also make sure that the product has a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Read the Whole Ingredient List

For most of the commercial dog foods, ingredients like sources of protein, carbohydrate and fat will take up most of the list or at least the top ten. However, this does not mean that you can forget about the rest. Always make it a point to have a good look at the entire list in order to make sure that there aren’t any unpleasant surprises with ingredients that could be potentially harmful for your dog. You have already learnt about the red flags while selecting the best food for your dog. But you must also keep an eye out for some of the beneficial ingredients as well like supplements of vitamins and minerals which are quite common in dog food to ensure nutritional balance. However, natural sources of the same nutrients are more beneficial as they are better absorbed by your dog’s body while the synthetic ones offer just a limited bioavailability. It is also a good sign if you see chelated minerals along with probiotics (dried or fermented form) on the list of ingredients of the dog food. Chelated minerals are the ones that have been bound to amino acids in order to increase absorption.

What are the Best Dog Food Brands?

You might feel quite overwhelmed with all the information that you have received so far. But with this guide we aim to help you choose the best for your dog with ease.

If you visit your local pet store you will find that there are numerous brands to choose from. If you search online, you will find even more of them. So much of information is definitely overwhelming. However, you must know that not all dog food are the same – not all brands focus on coming up with products of high quality. Instead, they use low quality ingredients to cut their costs and gain more profits and can be potentially harmful for your dog.

With this guide we aim to help you understand the nutritional needs of your dog along with reading a pet food label in order to make the best choice for your dog. If you still have trouble in deciding the best dog food, here are some of the best dog food brands available in the market today.

Taste of the Wild

Taste of the wild is a popular dog food available in India and is recommended by a lot of vets for pet dogs. The best part of this brand is that their products is completely grain free and is meat rich. The makers of this brand believe that dogs have a system which is adapted to kind of a wild diet since that have descended from the families of wild wolves. This brand is dedicated to not just meet but exceed dogs’ nutritional requirements. They have both dry and wet food products and include premium ingredients such as roasted bison, roasted venison, smoked salmon etc along with a blend of chelated minerals and probiotics. The products are highly digestible and ensure nutritional balance of your dog.

Orijen

Orijen, a Canada based brand is an amazing dog food brand popular world wide. It is also one of the priciest that you can find in India. This product has a premium feel to and mostly offer dry and freeze dried food products along with freeze dried treats. They also have a healthy weight formula. This brand is known to come up with products that ensure the natural nutritional balance of dog’s keeping in mind their evolutionary adaptation to meat and protein based food. The products have premium ingredients such as free run poultry, wild caught fish, nest laid eggs and ranch raised meats. They deal with products meant for puppies, adult dogs as well as senior dogs.

Farmina

Farmina is another brand available in India that offers grain free variants of products which are extremely beneficial for dogs with allergies from corn and other grains. The products of this brand include oats as a healthier alternative to rice and corn. Their products have crude protein content of 35% which is the highest in India with more than 60% of meat.

Drools

Drools is another popular dog food brand available in India which has a very high nutritional value. Their products are known to be devoid of fillers and artificial colours because of which it has become a favorite among many dog owners of India.

Nutra Gold

Nutra Gold is yet another product that has garnered much popularity in the Indian market of dog food in recent years. The products of this brand is known to have high quality ingredients such that of chicken turkey etc with an impressive quantity of meat in them. Their adult dog formula is very popular among dog owners of India.

Royal Canin

Royal Canin is one of the oldest and most popular brands available in the Indian market. Chosen by a lot of dog owners across the country, the products of this brand include rice and poultry that has been approved by the AFFCO. Their products are known to have high quality ingredients in them and are formulated according to age and various breed requirements.

Part Three – Tips and Advice

Feeding Tips for Puppies and Adult Dogs

A majority of dog owners fail to understand that small breed dogs actually require a higher amount of calories than large breed dogs. However, there is an important distinction to make in this case. The total required calorie intake of large dogs is higher but small dogs need more calories per pound of their respective body weight. For instance, a 110 pound Mastiff requires approximately 3000 calories per day which makes it 27 calories per pound of his bodyweight. On the other hand, the much smaller Boston Terrier weighing around 11 pounds requires almost 330 calories per day which makes it 30 or even more calories per each pound of his bodyweight. On an average, small breed dogs usually require 40 calorie per pound of their body weight while large breed dogs require just about 20. Other factors like size, age, breed, activity level also play an important role in determining the required calorie intake of dogs.

If you see that your dog has gained much weight than what is considered healthy, it is a good time to start cutting back on his food. So how much should you actually be feeding your dog? Firstly, always go for commercial dog recipes which are meant for your dog’s breed type – small breed dog or large breed dog. Then, follow the feeding instructions that you can find on the label of the product. These instructions will tell you how much to feed your dog according to his age and weight. Remember that your dog’s required calorie intake won’t be constant hence, make sure you regularly check his weight and body condition every few weeks and get him necessary food accordingly. If you notice unhealthy weight gain, cut back a little amount of the food you usually feed him however, if you notice him losing weight and being lethargic, you must consider feeding him a bit more.

Age and Weight

As a dog owner, you not only have to think about the right amount of food to feed your dog but you must also know about how many meals to give and when. As puppies are in a growing stage, they require eating more frequently than adult dogs. A lot of dog owners do not feed their dogs according to meal time, instead they keep a bowl of food that their dogs can feed on anytime. This makes sure dogs get the food they need. However, if you notice him growing too rapidly, you must start rationing his meals; this is mostly applicable in the case of large breed puppies. Once he attains his adult size, you can start on free feeding again but if he starts putting on weight, switching back is a good option.

Make a Feeding Schedule

Making a feeding schedule is an excellent option as dogs thrive on routine. You must try to make a feeding routine and stick to it strictly. For small breed dogs, three meals a day is generally enough for his metabolism and energy levels for the day. On the other hand, for large breed dogs, two meals a day are usually sufficient to keep with their energy. Dog owners usually prefer feeding their dogs at morning and evening. To make things easier, you can schedule your dog’s meals along with yours. This will also help you avoid your dog’s begging behavior for food since he will be busy eating his own. This will make it less likely for you to forget his meals; even though dog owners seldom forget to feed their dogs.

Switching to Adult Food

Apart from knowing how much to feed your puppy and when to do so, you must also know about the right time to switch to adult dog food. Since puppies need extra energy and nutrition to sustain healthy growth, pet food for puppies are formulated with higher content of protein and fat. However, you must be careful that your puppy does not grow too rapidly. For this you must know the difference between small breed puppy food and large breed puppy food. It is actually dangerous if large breed dogs grow to fast, hence, puppy food for large breed dogs usually have lesser content of calories and fats than puppy food for small breed dogs. Large breed dogs have a longer way to reach adult size than small breed dogs. If they grow too quickly, their joints and bones get additional strain which can lead them to develop certain musculoskeletal issues in adulthood.

So what is the correct way of determining when to switch to adult food? This can differ with different dogs. The main thing to look out for in order to switch to adult food is their expected adult size. You must keep a regular track of your puppies growth; you must make sure that he has a healthy growth rate and is not growing too fast or too slow. Another thing is to know when your puppy’s growth is going to top out. This is mostly dependent on your puppy’s breed along with his parent’s adult size. Keep a regular track of your growth; when you estimate that your dog has reached 80% of his expected adult size you can make the switch to adult dog food. Always remember to switch to small breed adult dog food if you were feeding your dog small breed puppy food. This is also applicable in case of large breed dog food.

Tips for Helping a Dog Lose Weight

Is My Dog Obese?

There is no doubt that dogs with fat and round bellies look really cute and adorable. However, obesity is indeed extremely dangerous for dogs. We, humans mostly need around 2000 calories per day; a snack of additional extra 50 calories may not make a huge difference for us. Bt, the same amount of extra calories could lay a significant impact on your dog. Even a few extra kilos of weight gain is not good for your dog. Once he puts on the extra weight, there will be difficulties in making him exercise and shed the kilos off. Dogs always love their food hence, your dog won’t like it if you put him on a diet.

Obesity in Dogs

If you notice that your dog has put on some extra weight, make sure you check with your veterinarian to determine if it is due to overfeeding or any other health related issue. If the weight gain is due to an underlying health issue, you might need to put your dog in a special diet and medications as suggested by the veterinarian. If it is due to overfeeding, there is not much to worry about. However, you must make sure that your dog gets enough exercise each day. You must also keep in mind not to give him too many treats or too little food either. There is a very fine line to determine this as you do not want your dog to go through unhealthy weight loss.

Weight Loss for Dogs

In order to shed off the extra kilos that your dog has put on, you must have an idea of of what his ideal weight must be. For this talking to your veterinarian and researching about ideal weights of various breeds might be helpful for you. Once you have successfully determined what your dog’s ideal weight should be, you can then calculate how many calories he needs everyday. You can also use various calculators available online which help in determining the ideal calorie intake of a dog with the help of his age, body weight, and activity level. Some of these calculators also have the option of weight loss. You can find one of these according to your dog’s needs. You can then opt for some of the commercially available healthy weight formula dog food and use it to meet your dog’s daily requirement of calorie intake by following the feeding instructions on the package of the product.

Healthy Weight Dog Formulas

While making your dog lose weight, you have to be extremely cautious while making the correct food choice for him. You cannot just choose to walk into any pet store and randomly pick up a healthy weight formula; you still need to go through the entire label in order to determine if the product that you’ve chosen is actually high quality or not. A lot of these recipes have a high content of fiber and very low content of protein in them. You must look for a formula which has plenty of protein in order to maintain your dog’s lean muscle along with lower and limited content of fat to control your dog’s calorie intake. Always remember that your dog needs plenty of protein and nutrition irrespective of whether he is growing, losing weight or maintaining weight.

How to Transition Your Dog onto a New Food

How to Change Foods

Dogs are known to have sensitive stomachs. There is nothing worse than your dog falling sick. Hence, if you want to change your dog’s food to a different one, always make sure to take small steps forward instead of going in all at once. Dog’s have a very delicate digestive system and a slight change in diet can make things go awry. Not only will your dog suffer a lot but think about all the mess that you would have to clean up – from vomit to diarrhea! It is always good if you first consult your veterinarian and then take the decision of switching your dog’s food.

Switching Dry Food Recipes

Switching your dog’s food will normally take around 5 to 7 days if you do it right. Every dog is different and some are a little more sensitive than others. While switching foods, you must keep a rack of how things are progressing and make any necessary changes whenever needed. You can start by mixing 25% of the new food with old food and continue doing this for two days. If you do not notice any kind of digestive issues or bad reactions, you can start feeding your dog 50% of the new food and 50% of the old food by day 3. If your dog is still adjusting well to the change start adding 75% of the new food with 25% of the old food and finally switch to 100% of the new food on day 7. At any time while making this transition if you notice any digestive issues, you must go back to feeding him old rations until things return to normal. If symptoms persist or if your dog has any kind of adverse reaction to the new food, contact a veterinarian doctor immediately.

Dry Food to Wet Food

Switching from one dry food recipe to another can be quite hassle free unlike switching from dry food to wet food which can be tricky at times. One of the benefits of dry food is that it helps in scraping off the plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth. But sometimes your dog might need food with a higher moisture content or just softer food. Generally, just like in case of dry food, dogs can easily switch to wet food as well. However, wet food is much richer than dry food which makes it difficult to be adjusted quickly by dogs and the process of transitioning from type of food to another takes a longer duration of time.

To avoid any problems, you can start by mixing a small quantity of water with the wet food and gradually decrease the amount of water as your dog starts adjusting to the new food. You must also remember that wet food recipes are much more calorie dense than dry food recipes hence, make sure you are feeding your dog according to its calorie requirements. You must follow the instructions for feeding which you can find printed on the packaging of the product according to your dog’s weight as well age in order to determine the right feeding proportion of wet food. You must also keep a close eye on your dog’s weight and activity level and make any adjustments if you notice any unwanted changes or issues. You must cut back on the amount of wet food that you are feeding your dog if notice him gaining extra weight or feed him more if you see decrease in weight s well as energy levels.

Advice About Using Dog Treats

Should I Use Treats?

When it comes to you dog’s diet, another thing that you need to keep an eye on is his consumption of treats. Undoubtedly treats play an extremely important role in dog training or at times when you want to give him some indulgence. However, any dog owners fail to understand that over using treats can actually be detrimental for their dogs. Dogs and humans differ a lot when it comes to intake of calories. While a bit of extra calories do not harm us, the same can lay a huge negative effect on your dog. A little extra calories can make your dog put on unhealthy weight very quickly. Once you dog has put on the extra kilos, it can be very difficult in shedding them off. Hence, try being proactive right from the beginning and avoid such issues.

Treats During Training

The time when treats are used the most is usually during training sessions. Generally puppies have multiple training sessions during the day which means a lot of treats! This why dog owners are always suggested to choose treats crucially. Since you will be using a lot of them look for treats which are nothing more than small bites with very less calories. This will ensure your dog’s diet stays on track without the addition of too many calories. You must also make sure to use treats as long as you are training your dog. Cut back on the treats when your dog gets the hang of it and starts responding to your commands accordingly. However, do not forget to give him a lot of praises to keep his motivation.

Avoid Overusing Treats

Another way to tactfully avoid giving your dog too many treats is by scheduling training sessions with meal times. You can use kibbles as treats which will ensure you are effectively training your dog and he is getting his treats – without adding any extra calories. Never forget to praise your dog whenever he acts according to your command. Praising our dog excitedly will make him understand that he is doing well. The more you praise your dog while training, the more likely it is for him to repeat the same positive behavior. In fact, the key to positive reinforcement in training your dog is giving him praises and lots of love.

What Should I Know About Veterinary Diets?

Are Veterinary Diets Healthy?

If dogs develop any kind of health problem, taking them to the veterinarian for a health check up is the first option for all dog owners. At times, these vets recommend to switch to a new diet which is specifically formulated for certain health related issues. It is not uncommon for vets to sell prescription formulas for dogs in their clinics. However, most dog owners do not realize that many of these formulas are of very low quality which can be very harmful for your dog and may not meet the dietary requirements of your dog.

Read the Label

Before you make the decision of feeding your dog any kind of prescription dog foods, make sure you read the label and complete the entire process of determining the quality of the product which you have already learned from this article. Many of these prescription dog food have a lot of plant based ingredients such as corn, wheat and soy along with high quantities of fiber. Many of these do not even have any meat in them. You must avoid falling in to these marketing schemes and assume such food to be beneficial for your dog just because they are recommended by your vet and are expensive.

High Quality Veterinary Diets

Though there are many prescription foods which are not good for your dog, there are also certain brands which are of high quality. These prescription diets are used in case of many health related issues or even specific diet requirements of some ogs. If you have to feed your prescription diets, make sure you choose one of high quality and do not risk your dog’s health.