Most dogs eat anything from garbage on the sidewalk to the remains of your table. They are not difficult in nutrition. So, how do you know if the food you buy them is healthy?
The FDA regulates all commercial pet food. Most in-store products therefore contain safe and nutritious ingredients. But it’s helpful to know some basic facts before choosing a brand and unveiling it.
1. Look for the nutritional guarantee.
Foods that constitute a dog’s main meal must be labeled by the American Food Control Officials Association (AAFCO) indicating that the product “provides a complete and balanced diet” or that the product “is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. ”
The main ingredient you choose for your dog, chicken, lamb, beef or something else does not make much difference, says Sherry Sanderson, DVM, Associate Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia. The important thing is that he can eat it without problems.
2. Do not exclude by-products or grains.
Chicken and meat byproducts have a bad reputation, thanks to companies that claim that the ingredients “real chicken” or “real meat” are better. The terms “by-product” and “by-product meal” refer to parts of the carcass of the crushed animal, including bones and organs. But they can be very nutritious, says Sanderson – even more nutritious than the muscle meat that we value, as a human being.
Cereals and cornmeal are also common ingredients in commercial dog foods – and all is well, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. “Going gluten free can be a fad diet for people, but we rarely see gluten-sensitive dogs.”
If you think your friend might be allergic to something in his food, do not diagnose it yourself. Ask your veterinarian how to determine exactly which ingredient to avoid.
3. The premium is not always better.
Stores tend to group dog foods into “popular” and more expensive, “premium” or “greedy” diet categories, but these labels do not require any food.
“I never blame pet owners for thinking they have to feed their dog or cat with a higher quality diet,” says Sanderson. “In fact, I feed my own animals with a combination of popular diets and superior diets.”
If cost is important to you, she recommends buying a cheaper popular food and saving money for other things your dog needs, such as heartworm preventative medicine.
4. Dogs can become vegetarians.
Unlike cats, which need nutrients contained only in animal protein, dogs can be healthy with a diet without meat. Sometimes homeowners choose this option if they are vegetarian or if the dog is allergic to chicken or other animal proteins.
But it can be difficult to find the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate and nutrients for veggie mutts. Sanderson says it’s a good idea to stay with commercial meatless dog food rather than trying to give your boyfriend a homemade diet.
5. Wet food or dry food: it’s a snap.
Dry food is less messy and easier to store, and nibbling pieces of kibble can be beneficial for dogs’ teeth. But wet food may be the best choice for dogs who have trouble chewing or who do not drink enough water on their own.
6. Be careful not to overuse.
It may seem convenient to leave food outside all day for your puppy, but it could mean that he will eat too much.
“It all depends on whether you have a gluttonous Labrador or a tough Pekingese,” says Wakshlag. “But we do not usually recommend it, because most animals find that pet food is rather tasty.”