What to Look For in Dog Foods
We all love our dogs and want to give them the best life has to offer. But with so many variations of dog food in the market, it isn’t always easy to identify the best food for our dog. Who can possibly feel confident when so many brands trumpet buzzwords that hit the human aisles not long ago, such as “rich in antioxidants,” “highly digestible,” “Omega-3 fatty acids” and “Ultra Premium Formula”?
What we can do, though, is to conduct a simple dog food comparison to determine which foods best fit our dog’s requirements and our personal schedule. After all, some foods offer much greater convenience than the more natural, less processed types of food which may require freezing, thawing, cooking and preparation.
Convenience aside, the best food to give your dog depends not on the brand or the style, but rather on your dog’s age and any special requirements he might have. For example, older dogs require food containing a careful balance of protein, fat and fiber. Most commercial dog food companies address this need with offerings such as senior dog food, containing about 18 % protein, and food for dogs diagnosed with renal failure, containing about 14% protein.
Dry vs Wet
Dare to Compare Dry Dog Food
The vast majority of dog owners go for dry dog food. Between the supermarket and specialty pet stores, owners enjoy many brands to choose from. Dry dog food consists of kibble typically made from one primary ingredient such as chicken, beef or lamb. More specifically, the main ingredient is usually a meat byproduct that’s been processed, dried and sold in packs or bags for easy dispensing. Needless to say, meat byproducts are far cheaper than meat, so this type of dog food is not only easy to store, it’s much less expensive than other types.
Hard kibble comes with some advantages. For example, it gives your dog’s mouth some exercise, and kibble’s less likely to contribute to plaque than softer foods.
When comparing brands, it helps to remember that there are essentially two types of dry dog food on the market: premium dog food and economy dog food. A smart owner will avoid purchasing the economy food, which is made from lower grade ingredients (for example, economy dog food will often substitute cheap corn for the more expensive meat byproducts). The “end” result, as it were, is that your dog can’t absorb many nutrients but simply passes the food through his body. So in addition to enjoying less nutrition, your dog will produce larger stools — and you might find yourself with more frequent vet bills.
Other Popular Contenders: Canned, Semi-Moist and More
Other categories of dog food include the semi-moist type and canned food. Many owners like to mix in some canned food with dry food, to potentially cover more nutritional bases without taking too big a hit to the pocketbook.
Semi-moist food is attractively convenient to owners, and dogs love it. Unfortunately, it may cause dental problems in the mid-term and worse in the long term, because semi-moist food is loaded with corn syrup and other sugars, which dogs just aren’t designed to process.
Premium Dog Food
Recently, more natural, “premium” dog food has been introduced to the market, in which higher quantities of quality, nutritious ingredients are used to manufacture the food — often human-grade, in fact. Since vegetables, fruits, real meat and quality grains are used as the primary protein source in the highest-quality dog foods, these foods are a fast route to healthy skin and beautiful fur. For the most part, they contain no artificial coloring and preservatives, but are chock-full of vitamins and minerals instead.
Although this food costs more, you can feed your dog less of it, because it’s more nutritionally dense. So in terms of both convenience and nutrition, a premium, natural dog food is one of the best choices available to your dog, whether off-the-shelf or purchased online.