What should I feed my dog?
First of all this is research done by myself
I am not a nutritionist nor do I work in the animal food industry. This is a non scientific attempt at explaining how you can be more informed as to how to select the best food for your dog with out telling you what to choose.
I do NOT cover specialist dietary requirements as you should be talking to your vet and not a dog on the internet (me).
One of the most common questions on animal groups is ‘What should I feed my dog?’ Here is an overview of what humans should be looking at and be considering while picking food for you.
Now before you consider rushing out to change your diet, you need to remember what ever you are on now is what your stomach is used to. So any changes need to be gradual - even if it is keeping to the same type but a different brand.
Food comes in all shapes and sizes. It also comes in all different grades of nutritional value too. You need to try to spend time researching the best for you and also be able to stick within your budget too. Now don't be fooled into thinking the cheapest is the worst and the most expensive food is the absolute best. Make sure you read the ingredients label and check that you know what you are eating.
The primary thing to remember when buying any food is that colours are generally for the human's benefit. Let's face it you would not feed your small humans on artificially coloured food for every meal would you? As a dog myself, my first thing would be to use my sense of smell, taste etc. the actual colour would be low down on my list of priorities for selecting food. You may think 'but my dog loves x colour in their food'. Well no not really what we are selecting is based on smell and texture.
Also how you feed are fed is important. If you are taller you will need a raised feeder. Now that can be a shop bought stand or a creative homemade device that will not tip or have anything that you could get hurt on. Some humans feed their dogs once a day and some feed several times a day. The key thing is to get your humans to listen , yes listen, to your. If you are fed once a day and they look like a keg and are struggling to move then you need your daily food split up into different meals. If you feed several times a day and are still hungry then start throwing their bowl around straight after a meal to let your humans know you need more and less often throughout the day.
For food the choices are seemingly endless but there only a few real choices, the rest are down to brand names and packaging.
Before I go into some of the main options (in a separate article) the first place you need to look is on the food label. Once you familiarise yourself on how to read the label then the next step can be a lot easier for you.
On the label the ingredients are listed in order of ‘most to least’. Now this sounds great if it starts with Beef. However if there 99 other ingredients, just how much Beef is there in the food?
Plus a lot of manufacturers frill up words to make things sound more edible when in fact they may not be as good as you think.
If you know of any label ingredients you come across that need to be mentioned (good or bad) then please let me know and I will add them.
*This list is not a full list and should not be taken as a complete list of the only things good/or bad for dogs - I will add to the list as and when I get more information*
Look at how things are listed:
Higher value named meat products may be stored more carefully (colder and cleaner) than by unnamed meat and meat meal.
Protein should always be listed first. Although look closer, check out how it has been listed. For example:
Chicken, Lamb, Beef – yes that is the way you want to see the food listed.
Chicken meal, Lamb meal, Beef meal – not the ideal cuts from the animal but still have some nutritional value
Meat, Animal – this could be from any animal or multiple types of animals.
Meat meal, animal meal – this could be any part of any animal such as skin, connective tissue, bone, beaks etc.
A note to remember is that ‘meat’ and ‘meal’ could differ in ingredients for each batch made. Which could explain why one week you like the food and the next you don't.
Chicken – great source of protein and easier digestible for sensitive stomachs
Duck – great source of protein, omega 3 & 6, good for a healthier coat
Egg – great source of protein and fat with a good selection of vitamins and minerals
Lamb – great source of protein and good for coats, skin and hip/joint care
Salmon – great source of protein and omega and amino acids that are good for health and energy
Salmon oil – good for Omega 3 and 6 which helps prevent skin allergy and inflammation
Trout – Great protein source with low saturated fats and high in omega 3, good for joint protection and mobility
Turkey – great source of protein and easier digestion
Vegetables, Grain and Fruits:
Fresh and whole are fine listed higher in the ingredients list as they still contain all of their natural nutrient and vitamins. If they are listed as processed foods such as rice bran etc. as long as they are lower in the list than the fresh or whole vegetables, grain or fruit they are not ideal but okay.
Alfalfa (lucerne) – great for iron, magnesium, vitamins A, C and E, fibre
Barley - fibre and a small amount of copper and selenium
Brown Rice – high ni fibre and low in fat, good for digestion
Carrots cooked or raw - vitamin B,C,D,E and K
Cranberry – rich on many vitamins including A, B1, B2, C, can help prevent urinary tract infections
Cucumber slices raw - Potassium, good for bones and teeth
Green Beans raw and cooked - source of fibre and improves metabolism
Ground oats – benefit organs, good for digestion and help keep low cholesterol
Hulls, shells, pulp etc - these are the waste products that are left after the good stuff has been removed.
Lentils - protein and reduces bottom burps (yeah !!)
Linseed – rich in omega 6 and 3, DHA (full name in the scientific stuff section below) for brain development
Peas - carbohydrates and fibre
Peppers, red and green - vitamin C and beta carotene good for decreasing chances of cataracts and arthritis as the dog gets older.
Potato cooked not raw - good in low amounts for the carbohydrates
Seaweed – calcium and helps digestion and bone development
Squash cooked - Vitamin A and Calcium, good for the kidneys
Sunflower oil – fatty acids which is good for the skin and coat
Sweet potato - rich in antioxidants and helps stabilise blood sugar levels
Tomato – rich in vitamins A and C
White rice – is actually brown rice with the husks removed, great for sensitive stomachs and older dogs
The scientific stuff:
There is always the lit of long scientific words we cannot say, never mind know what they are. Don’t be frightened to write them down and look them up to see what they are.
Calcium Iodate Anhydrous – Iodine is necessary for the thyroid gland and generating hormones
Chondroitin – reduces cartilage damage and promotes new cartilage
Cupric Sulphate Pentahydrate – Copper is good for good for reproduction and coat pigmentation
DHA (docosahexaenoic Acid) good for brain development, eye development and learning ability
Ferrous Sulphate Hydrate - basically it is iron and helps maintain a healthy level of red blood cells
Glucosamine – helps lubricate joints and maintains the joints cartilage
Manganous Sulphate Monohydrate – important for development of strong bones and enhances the immune system
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) – promotes healing and reduces inflammation
Prebiotic FOS (Fructooligosaccharides) - maintains gastrointestinal health.
Prebiotic MOS (Mannanoligosaccharides) – removes harmful bacteria and boosts immune system
Sodium Selenite – is a trace mineral essential for various bodily processes, cell function, antioxidant
Taurine – heart muscle function, vision and the production of bile to aid digestion
Vitamin A - eyes, skin and coat
Vitamin D3 – helps the intestine absorb calcium to regulate blood levels, promotes strong teeth/healthy bones
Vitamin E – biological antioxidant, aids reproduction and important for forming red blood cells
Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate – zinc works with omega 3 and other vitamins to maintain healthy skin and coat