Complete And Balanced Dog Foods
One of the first things you should look for on a dog food label is the statement is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. This isnt just an advertising slogan. The Association of American Feed Control Officials has strict requirements to make sure that a product is in fact complete and balanced for dogs . Complete and balanced diets must contain the minimum amount of all of the nutrients necessary for dogs, which is also indicated in the guaranteed analysis. This analysis gives the minimum amount of crude protein and fat, along with the maximum amounts of water and crude fiber. The analysis does not, however, give the exact amount of these components, which means there is room for considerable variation. The manufacturers average nutrient profile is often a better tool for evaluating a product.
You can always contact the dog food company directly to get more information about its product. A reputable company that has your dogs interests at heart should be happy to answer your questions and in many cases will give you more information than what is available on the website or product label. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has a helpful sheet with questions you can ask a company representative.
Meat With A Strong Scent
So, what is the perfect dog food for picky eaters? You must pick meals that have meat with a heavy scent. They are more likely to favour pork over chicken because of the scent. So, choose recipes with a strong, inviting scent. If it is too smelly for you, it probably smells great for your pooch!
This also means that you should pick a dog food that contains real meat. Finicky eaters are quick to spot artificial meat flavours and will stay hungry for the rest of the evening.
Always go through the ingredients list and make sure the product uses at least one named meat at the primary ingredient. Steer clear from products that say by-product . Instead, pick a product that contains named meat like chicken, pork, salmon, duck etc.
Does The Dog Food Include Useful Supplements
Things like probiotics and joint-supporting supplements are not necessary for every dogs health, but they are likely beneficial in many circumstances. They are unlikely to harm your pet and they are often a good indicator that the manufacturer is striving to create a high-quality food, which will help your dog feel his best.
Here are some of the supplements most commonly added to dog foods:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
However, when considering foods that contain these supplements, it is important to note the quantities in which theyre provided. Some foods list these types of supplements on the label but include them in quantities which are likely too low to provide the desired benefits.
While there are plenty of options on the market for dog foods that include probiotics or glucosamine in the formula itself, owners also always have the option of adding the supplement via an additional powder, pill, or liquid mix-in.
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Tip #4 When In Doubt Go Hypoallergenic
You wont yet know if your dog has allergies since these can develop over time.
However, its better to be safe than sorry so always pick up hypoallergenic food if you can see it on the shelves.
Hypoallergenic food wont harm a dog if they dont have allergies but it will protect dogs that do. Because of this, theres no reason why you wouldnt give your dog hypoallergenic food that minimises the risk of reaction.
What Should Not Be In My Dogs Food
- Chemicals: Bypass any foods that contain unnatural preservatives , flavor enhancers, artificial colors, or other chemicals.
- Inferior proteins: If your food contains animal by-products or animal meals from unnamed sources as opposed to whole meats you may want to bypass this food
- Your dog will benefit from not being fed a diet with natural preservatives as opposed to one with chemical ones likeBHA, BHT or ethoxyquin
- If your dog has allergies choose a grain or gluten-free food and one that has novel proteins. To learn more about feeding for allergies you can read our article here.
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Do Pets Need Different Food As They Get Older
Yes. It is essential that puppies and kittens are fed on puppy dog food and kitten cat food, as they have specific energy and nutrient requirements, says Gudrun Ravetz of the British Veterinary Association.
As they get older, different breeds of dog will age at different rates, she says. For example, a Great Dane is likely to be senior before a Yorkshire terrier.
Your vet will be able to advise on the best diet for your pets life stage whether that’s puppy, junior or senior dog food breed and lifestyle, and tell you if your pet has any special dietary needs.
Know Their Nutritional Needs
The first place to start for choosing the right dog food is to understand what makes up a nutritious dog food that is also delicious and balanced.
Amino Acids & Fatty Acids
Dogs need 22 amino acids for their survival, a dozen of which they can manufacture themselves. The other ten amino acids dogs cannot synthesize on their own. This means ALL of these 10 amino acids should ALWAYS be in your dog’s food. The ten amino acids are:
- Melanin Tryptophan
There are meat and plant sources for each of these amino acids, which can be found in the Exploratorium Science of Cooking Guide. Dogs are able to digest plant sources as well as meat sources. Meat based proteins, however, are highly efficient means of delivering these vital nutrients and converting them to protein because of the similar structure of muscles in humans and animals.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
Dogs need protein in their diet. Lots of it. Proteins are the building blocks for tissues, organs, and cells, as well as enzyme, hormones and antibodies. Dogs can consume protein from both animal sources AND plant sources. There is even a new trend with insect protein… eww? The benefit of animals proteins is that they are considered “complete” proteins, whereas plant proteins, if not given in the right combination and quantities, are “incomplete” proteins.
Proteins are vital for:
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Dry Dog Food Versus Wet Or Canned Dog Food
Freeman argued the amount of water in wet food might make it an unwise investment, and instead recommended you go with dry food. One benefit to dry food , she noted, is that the friction of chewing it can help keep your dogs teeth and gums healthy. Its also less messy. Morgan added that bags of dry food also tend to be more affordable compared to the other options.
However, Morgan noted that kibble typically includes less meat and often includes some sort of grain, legume, or potato. If you go with kibble, Morgan suggested topping the dry food with a bit of canned food, meat from home, or other toppers.
Some Tips For Buying Dog Food
Here are some great tips for buying dog food and how to read a dog food label.
- The ingredients are listed by how much is in the food. If it is listed first, that is what there is the most of. So you want to make sure that good quality meat is first, then vegetables, and after that grains, fats, and vitamins.
- Stores will sell dog food that has gone bad. Make sure to check the sell-by date.
- There is an analysis on the bag that will tell you how much protein, fat, fiber, and water the food contains. Remember that more water is good.
- Feeding recommendations are not rules. Make sure to check with your local Albuquerque veterinarian about the amount your dog should eat.
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Finding The Nutrition Ona Pet Food Label
To save yourself some time, you can find some helpful information on the pet food label first instead of starting with the less-than-helpful ingredient list. Be sure to look out for the Nutritional Adequacy or the Association of American Feed Control Officials statement, since itâs based on the nutritional profiles that they publish annually.
Next, look for one of three statements on the package. These statements are important because they answer these questions:
- Does this dog food contain all the necessary nutrients for a dog?
- How was that determined?
- What age is this formula made for?
According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, the statements may look like one or any of the below:
- Product X is formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for Y species and Z life stage. Life stages include âmaintenance,â or âgrowth and reproduction,â which is frequently called âall life stages.â All life stages mean it meets growth/reproduction requirements in which case it will automatically meet adult requirements because a puppy or kitten has higher calorie and nutrient requirements than do adults.
- Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Product X provides complete and balanced nutrition for Y species and Z life stage. Life stages for feeding tests include âmaintenance,â âgrowth,â âgestation and lactationâ or âall life stages.â
- This product is intended for intermittent and supplemental feeding only.
Whats In A Good Dog Food
Many pet parents feed their dogs dry kibble or canned wet food. While these foods might not be appealing to us, they contain all of the nutrients dogs need to stay healthy. High-quality commercial dog foods are regulated and have undergone testing by veterinary specialists. So what exactly is in these dog foods?
Unlike cats, dogs need more than meat in their diet. Even though protein sources such as meat make up a majority of a pupâs diet, most dogs also need the essential vitamins, minerals and fiber they can get from grains, fruits and veggies.
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Does The Brand Have A Canine Nutritionist On Staff
The best dog food manufacturers employ one or more full-time, credentialed veterinary nutritionists.
Ideally, such individuals should have a PhD in animal nutrition and be board certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition .
Typically, large, established food brands are more likely to employ nutritionists, as the services these professionals provide are often expensive.
Tip #5confirm Nutrient Testing
Its also important to know how the company can be certain each formulation is nutritionally complete and balanced.
And how often nutritional content testing is actually performed.
Does the company conduct laboratory analysis? Or do they run feeding trials?
Surprisingly, we have found many companies that never do any testing at all. Thats why its so important to
Find out what a company does to test each product to be sure it actually meets AAFCO nutritional guidelines.
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Artificial Preservatives Colors And Flavors
Hereâs the deal: Not all artificial preservatives are bad. Thatâs because they serve an important purpose, which is to prevent food from spoiling and making your dog sick. However, eight artificial preservatives are controversial because of their potential link to cancer in dogs. They are Propyl Paraben, Propyl Gallate, BHA, BHT, EMQ, TBHQ, Sodium Metabisulfite, and Potassium Sorbate. Honestly, this sounds like a crazy list of local radio stations, right? We agree! Plus, most of these will hide under different names like E216 on the ingredients list anyways. But no worries, weâre here to help: Weâve checked thousands of dog foods for a huge list controversial ingredients and highlighted them for you in our dog food reviews. âBy the way: While some safe artificial preservatives can be a smart choice to keep dog food fresh, artificial colors and flavors make no sense in dog food. As a dog owner, youâve probably seen your dog gobble up anything from a hot dog to poop – they have a forgiving palette, so thereâs no need to add colors and flavors.
Do Homework On Your Brand
Information on sourcing and quality control in manufacturing is not required on pet food labels. You may be able to find the information on the companys website but if not, call their consumer relations department and ask where its ingredients are sourced. Any reputable company with a quality product will be happy to engage with its consumers.
Next, see if the company manufactures in its own facility rather than outsourcing. This provides better control and safer food for your pup!
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Is Preparing Home
Experts we spoke to don’t advise DIY homemade dog food or cat food. Its extremely difficult to put together a balanced home-made diet for your pet, and I wouldnt recommend it unless youre under the direct supervision of a vet, says Gudrun Ravetz, junior vice president of the British Veterinary Association.
How Do You Choose
Quite simply, you choose the puppy food that meets the nutritional needs of your puppy. This may well be the natural and organic or even the one that Mrs. Johnson feeds, but you figure it out by reading the label.
If you have a large or giant breed , the label should state whether it is suitable to them or not. Looking for phrases like includes large breeds or except for large breeds is key.
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The Meat Of The Matter
The pet food industry in Australia is worth billions of dollars, but there’s no regulator. In was found in some foods.
Food labels are something I’ve found confusing. What’s the difference between the chicken “meal” mentioned in Rosie’s food and the “poultry by-products” mentioned on another brand’s label?
Here are a few things to help you better understand the kind of meat that’s used in your dog’s food:
- The current pet food standard classifies meat as “any part of an animal other than feathers, which contains protein, and which is ordinarily or in nature, used as food by dogs or cats, whether fresh, chilled, frozen or dried”.
- Meat or poultry “meal” is made from cooked-down animal parts that humans don’t eat.
- Meat poultry “by-products” is animal parts like lungs, livers and blood, which are just as nutritious for your dog but might not be as tasty or digestible as muscle meat.
Redbarn Grain Free 3lb Dog Food Roll Beef
- Packed with fresh meat and high quality, garden-fresh ingredients, our Rolled Food is an easy solution to feeding your dog a nutritious, high-protein diet.
- We use a low-temperature cooking process that allows our food to retain vital minerals and nutrients.
- With over 50% fresh protein per roll, its more convenient than a raw food diet and can easily be stored without the need for refrigeration until opened.
- Made without the use of artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Our manufacturing process is a unique blend of state-of-the-art technology and handcrafted quality.
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Why Trust The Spruce Pets
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and lifelong animal lover who currently owns two dogs, both of whom she feeds Purina Pro Plan dog food at the recommendation of her vet.
Pet nutrition is a complicated topic, so she reached out to Dr. Jennifer Frione, DVM, owner of Lakeside Animal Hospital, for guidance on what to look for in a dog food. She also did ample research through trusted sources, including the AAFCO, WSAVA, Tufts University, and Pet Nutrition Alliance. To evaluate various dog food brands for quality, she considered their range of products, nutritional content, ingredients, recalls, and development team, prioritizing brands with comprehensive teams including vet nutritionists, veterinarians, and scientists.
Putting It All Together
Choosing the best dog food means finding a brand that uses quality ingredients in a way that properly balances the protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and vitamins your dog needs based on his age, lifestyle, and unique state of health. Look for a healthy dog food that has met or exceeded these guidelines and follows the individual needs of your pet as determined by your vet. Spending a little extra time choosing a perfect dog food could mean that much more enjoyment with a healthy and happy four-legged best friend.
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Complete And Balanced Foods
Check the packaging for the words âcomplete and balanced.â This is a regulated term that means that the dog food has to contain all nutrients your dog needs to be well nourished and healthy. Almost all foods have this on their label, but some toppers and specialty foods donât, so double check to make sure the product is suitable to be the only food your dogs eat.
How To Shop For The Best Food For Dogs
One of the most important steps in figuring out the best dog food is through the ingredient list, said Freeman, noting the first three are the most critical. This will help you determine if the formula is vegetable-based with things like corn and rice or meat-based with chicken, fish, or lamb, said Freeman. While each dog is different, they generally do best on a protein-rich, meat-based diet, she added.
Next, analyze what type of meat is within. Look for brands that specifically name the type of meat, like beef, chicken, or lamb, said Morgan. She noted that meat, bone meal or meat byproducts could come from any animal. Similarly, poultry meal signals any bird, she said.
The ingredients will also highlight some of what you want to avoid. Freeman suggested avoiding dog food that includes: dyes , sugar and high salt , as well as other solvents and preservatives like propylene glycol, BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin.
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