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6 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know About Dog Food 

About Dog Food     By Emily Williams   |Published July 29, 2019

When it comes to food, most dogs will eat just about anything. As opportunistic eaters, it’s in their nature! But being willing and able to eat almost anything isn’t the same as getting great nutrition. As our dogs’ guardians, it’s up to us to feed them well. Here are six tips for feeding your dog correctly.

A little dog is sniffing a pumpkin6 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know About Dog Food

About Dog Food

1. Grains and Byproducts are OK for Most Dogs

When wild dogs eat, they consume entire animals – including things that we humans view as absolutely disgusting.

As it turns out, things like sinews and organs are highly nutritious, with essential minerals and vitamins, plus healthy fat and protein, so there’s no need to worry too much about ingredients like chicken meal and lamb meal, which are made by grinding up animal protein and removing moisture. 

Do consider choosing dog foods with named protein sources such as beef, chicken, duck, lamb, etc. over more general “poultry” or “meat byproduct” catch-all labels.

Switching to a brand with named proteins and fewer fillers can make a visible difference. In many cases, the recommended serving size is smaller. And you’ll find that your dog’s waste output is lower as well.

Whole grains such as rice, barley, and oats are fine for most dogs too. If you think that your dog might have a food allergy, ask your vet to run tests.

2. Not all Dog Foods are Created Equal

Even though the FDA regulates all pet foods sold in the US, there are differences in quality. You’ll want to look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label mentioning that the dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition, plus you’ll want to watch out for things like artificial colors and artificial flavors.

Be on the lookout for the term “animal byproduct” since these generic meat, bone, and animal byproduct meals can also contain things like diseased or dead on arrival livestock, roadkill, deceased zoo animals, and even pets that have been euthanized at animal shelters.

What is in generic meat and animal byproduct meals depends on the rendering plant that processes the meals. Brands that use this vague terminology technically meet the standards set forth by AAFCO, but they could be detrimental to your dog’s health.

Before choosing a dog food, take a look at the company's website.  Does it provide detailed information about the food, the company, recalls?  Or do you see fancy marketing, beautiful images, and wonderful promises that are not backed up by facts?

3. Dry Dog Food Helps Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Clean

In the wild, carnivorous animals keep their teeth clean by eating bones. Unfortunately, real bones can splinter and break, potentially harming your dog’s digestive tract.

Bones can damage your dog’s teeth, too, leading to pain and perhaps some unexpected vet bills. A good-quality dry dog food does double-duty by nourishing your pet and helping keep dog teeth cleaner between dental cleanings.

Of course, dental chews are great for keeping our furry friends’ teeth clean, too. Bonus: fresher doggie breath and more enjoyable interactions with your pet!

It’s perfectly fine to treat your dog to wet food as well as kibble. If your dog needs to lose weight, replacing part of your dog’s dry food with wet food can help you keep them feeling satisfied, but with fewer calories.

4. All Dogs Don’t Need a Premium Diet

Did you know that the average dog owner will spend approximately $1,975 on their dogs, from travel costs to insurance, food, and treats?

While you probably don’t want to feed your dog the cheapest food on the market, many foods offered at mid-range prices are nutritionally sound and perfectly healthy. Of course if budget isn’t an issue, feel free to treat your dog to the very best. It certainly won’t hurt.

Take a peek at the dog reviews on PupJunkies to see some interesting comparisons and learn more about which foods are best for your dog.

Pet food manufacturing is a competitive business. You do want to feed your dog a good quality food, but you don’t have to pay premium prices as some manufacturers would lead you to believe.

5. Dogs Aren’t Obligate Carnivores

While cats can’t survive without meat, dogs can live long, healthy lives on vegetarian diets. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan and you’d like your dog to join you, be sure to talk to your vet about how to make the switch since it’s essential to provide the right nutritional balance.

An excellent vegetarian dog food will contain enough protein, balanced amino acids, and an appropriate blend of vitamins and minerals designed to support your dog’s health.

If you decide to feed a vegetarian or vegan dog food, it’s an excellent idea to treat your pet to twice-yearly checkups to ensure that they are healthy.

6. Portion Control Matters

Many of us are watching our waistlines, and it’s up to us to keep track of our dogs’ intake, too! In case portion control feels difficult or you feel like your dog is missing out, some companies are offering portion-controlled meals based on your dog’s size.

Whatever you feed your dog, be sure to check recommended serving size based on your pet’s age, activity level, and ideal weight.

If you’re not sure, your vet can help you decide how much to feed your pet. Take treats into consideration too – this is particularly important if you have a small dog since extra calories add up quickly and even a little bit of excess weight can be hard on your dog’s joints.

Final thoughts about dog food...

Ultimately, the right diet can make a significant impact on your dog’s health, happiness, and longevity. It’s up to you to decide on the best dog food for your pet: One that meets your dog’s nutritional needs as well as your budget. 

And, speaking of the health of your little dog, you can always check out Fuzzy Rescue for important points to keep in mind when purchasing health insurance.  Yes, even dogs need health insurance to help you stay within your budget while assuring your dog stays healthy.  

6 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know About Dog Food PinAbout Dog Food

Author Bio (About Dog Food)

Emma is a pet-parent to two four-legged friends, and enjoys sharing her knowledge on animal behaviour, health and training. When she has spare time, she enjoys blogging for wwwallaboutcats.com.

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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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