It’s probably quite confusing to most of us in the consumer world for pet owners why dog food companies would put out food that wasn’t healthy for our pups. It’s very much like the human food world—most of the time whatever main ingredients are cheapest and easiest to make end up winning over healthier options in a dog’s diet. We usually only remember healthy dog food brands once our canine starts having problems.
However, dogs are just like humans in that they need special nutrients in their food products for their bodies to grow and prosper—without too many artificial preservatives. That’s why it is so important to find the right dog food that is healthy and delicious.
What Makes Healthy Dog Food Brands Healthy?
For the sake of convenience and time, processed dog food is the top choice for pet owners. While we, as humans, might find that these processed foods are not appetizing to us (unless your toddler), these processed foods have everything a dog needs to remain in tip-top shape.
For a dog food to be put out on the shelves at any store, the food must go through a wide variety of tests to prove that the food is actually safe for dogs to eat. Through those same findings in the rigorous tests, veterinarians can also determine whether or not a particular dog food is healthier than others and if it really is one of the healthy dog food brands.
For dogs, healthy foods consist of meat, fruits, and vegetables. It is not typically recommended for dog foods to contain grains, soy, or corn as they can cause allergic reactions and digestive issues for many dogs. Through vegetables and fruits, dogs intake to vitamins and minerals that they need to have a healthy body.
Healthy dog food brands contain high-quality versions of all of these ingredients and have fewer fillers and artificial flavors/preservatives. Looking for food that contains little-to-no meat by-products or animal meal are the best choices for your dog.
And as always, dogs in different stages of life require different nutrients. It is important to discuss your dog’s specific needs with your vet. Your veterinarian can help you determine what type of balanced nutrition your dog needs to thrive at any stage of life.
Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equally
In human food, carbohydrates are now the nemesis to many diets and healthy eating plans. While dogs don’t necessarily need to steer completely clear of carbohydrates, they do need to avoid over-consumption on a daily basis.
This is due, in part, to the fact that dogs do not find carbohydrates like rice or corn in the wild. They can, however, find animal meat such as chicken or lamb to eat. Dog foods that use fillers such as rice or corn to help a dog feel fuller longer tend to lack other nutrients a dog’s needs. In short, they cannot be considered healthy dog food brands because of this.
Dog food typically contains some carbohydrates as they accompany other types of ingredients naturally. However, watching for foods that contain as little carbs as possible is the way to ensure you’re giving your dog the healthiest options possible.
More than a Marketing Ploy
Every dog food brand, or product brand in general, want to use the best marketing techniques possible to entice customers to purchase their product. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the information they are presenting is completely true.
One label on many dog foods that is actually not a marketing ploy and must be proven by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is “complete and balanced” nutrition.
If you see this label on a dog food bag, you can rest assured that that food has been inspected and thoroughly examined to prove that it meets the AAFCO’s requirements for being complete and balanced. Dog food is complete and balanced if it contains the minimum amount of all nutrients such as protein, fat, water, and crude fiber. While the company is not required to give you a breakdown of the actual totals of each in their food, you can always contact the dog food company directly to find out the values.
Understanding Your Dog’s Unique Needs
Healthy is a relative term when it comes to food, for humans, and dogs. Every dog is different and requires different types of nutrients to live a healthy life—some dogs may require raw food, others may need an increased protein content, or a limited ingredient diet to reduce the risk of food allergies. Therefore, what might be healthy and appropriate for your large dog breed might not work for your small dog breed. It is important to know the differences between your dog’s needs to keep everyone where they need to be physically and mentally.
Larger breeds need healthier foods that promote joint and muscle health, while smaller breeds need healthier foods that promote digestion and brain development. Puppies are also unique in their needs and require specific formulas to help ensure they grow appropriately in all areas.
Consult your veterinarian first before choosing dog food for your dog and before switching foods. They are your best resource for finding the healthiest option for your pup.
Allergies and Illnesses
Both vets and pet owners know that the healthiest food for one dog might cause severe stomach pains in another dog. This is due to the fact that every dog’s body responds differently to foods. Understandably, humans can have allergies to specific foods, which can cause breakouts on the skin or digestive issues. The same can happen with dogs.
If you notice that your dog’s skin is scaly, rough, itchy, or lacking shine, it may be a sign that your dog is allergic to the ingredients in your current dog food choice. Your vet can perform allergy tests to determine the root cause (which can be expensive), or you can work backward with an elimination diet.
Dog foods that are labeled “healthy” typically do not contain wheat, grains, corn, or soy as they have been proven to cause serious allergic reactions and digestive issues for many dogs. Therefore, start with dog food that does not contain these ingredients and see if the issues clear up. If they do not, consult your veterinarian.
Understanding what type of dog food is the healthiest choice for your dog is the first step in finding the perfect match for Fido. Now it’s time to find the right food for your dog!
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