Proper, healthy and quality nutrition is the basis for longevity, good health, proper growth and development, hair quality and general satisfaction of the dog. Therefore, it is the owner’s task to provide the dog with meals that will allow the intake of the optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and all other nutritional supplements.
When it comes to proper nutrition, it is necessary to emphasize that the term “good food for dogs” depends on a multitude of factors. The need for nutrients varies depending on age, structure, amount of physical activity, animal life cycle and many other factors.
What people often don’t realise is that it is necessary to adjust the dog’s diet in different stages of the animal’s life. For example, it is very important for female dogs nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding, to be significantly better and adapted precisely to that condition. During this period, the need for energy and highly nutritious food is significantly increased, in order to ensure the proper development of puppies, but also to meet the needs of the future mother.
There are many other conditions which require a specialized and careful dog diet. However, there are some general mistakes to avoid when it comes to dog food.
New dog owners usually make a rookie mistake. They are spending a fortune on often unnecessary equipment for a dog and then they come to the question: What can I feed a dog with? What is the best food? Should a dog eat lunch remains? Is wet food better than dry food?
Generally, one can never know whether the dog would accept a certain type of food or not, until the dog tries it. However, there are some important guidelines on dog food that can give a certain insight into possible reactions of the dog. Take for example the stars on the dog food. One-star does not necessarily mean that the dog food is bad, but it does mean that it contains a low percentage of meat. Five-star food means that there is a high percentage of meat in the product and that it does not contain by-products, chemicals or protein derived from plants.
On the other hand, there are foods for vegan dogs in the market which do not contain meat and these dogs live a healthy life, without any problems. This is why it is very important to know how to read dog food declaration. It is also important to know how to read between the lines.
It is advisable to feed the dog with natural, organic food. However, it is even more important to know the ratio of meat and other ingredients, carbohydrates percentage and whether they are derived from wheat, soy, corn, bone meal or from fruit. Foods rich in additives, preservatives and similar substances should always be avoided.
The most important thing when choosing a dog food is to listen to your dog. If the food does not suit the dog, the animal will most often show you some symptoms. These include food allergy symptoms, such as itching (especially at the back of the body), licking the paws, touching the eyelashes (due to inflammation), lupus inflammation, frequent diarrhoea, gasses and various skin changes. Additionally, if the dog is vomiting, the owner must stop giving the dog the food and take the animal to the veterinarian.
There are different types of dog food available in the market. Sometimes, especially if you have recently bought a dog, choosing the food type can be a very difficult task. The reason of such a diverse offer in the market is the fact that different breeds of dogs, as well as dogs at different age prefer different food. Some dogs will respond perfectly to dry, while others will eat only wet food. Some dogs eat only raw, frozen food and won’t eat dry food. Additionally, some dogs have very sensitive digestive system – they have a very sensitive stomach. These dogs will require special food.
Furthermore, certain conditions can require a special diet, prescribed by your dog’s veterinarian. In this case, you will also have to stick to the diet rules. These are some of the reasons why producers have developed different formulas for puppies, dogs in active development phase, adult dogs and elderly dogs.
You can also have a special formulas for different vet diets or easily digestible food, which is specifically designed to help dog’s skin and hair stay healthy is peculiar for its high level of vitamins and fatty acids responsible for protecting the dog’s skin from irritation and making the hair shiny. Last but not least, you may come across a food that strengthens the immune system, bone system or the one that is being marked as anti-stress.
Due to the fact that dry version is very practical and easy to use, most owners prefer feeding their dogs with this type of food.
It is produced by grinding the ingredients that are machine-blended and pressed into granules which are then dried. The pressing process can be hot or cold. There are advantages and disadvantages of both types of the pressing process.
Opponents of the hot food preparation process claim that high temperature processed dry food loses its nutrients. Hot pressing advocates say that this process kills the parasites and increases food digestibility. The supporters of the cold method of producing dry food say that the natural taste and smell of food is retained, which is well received by the dogs.
Whichever type of one picks, it is important to know that each package contains recommended quantities information depending on the size of the dog, his or her age, amount of movement and many other factors.
It is very important to stick to the quantity recommendations, as most dogs are rather prone to gaining weight. However, if the dog is more active, increasing the food quantity is allowed and preferable. It takes eight to ten hours for a dog to digest dry or dehydrated food meal. The good thing is that there are numerous types of products and meals and that dogs usually love it. That includes dry food treats, such as dental sticks and dog cookies.
This is the main type of food, suitable for most of the dogs out there. There are many benefits of wet food consumption, which is why many experts recommend it.
One of the most important benefits of this food type is its high nutrient value. Wet food is produced exclusively from fruit, vegetable, fish and meat juices. This is why this food has greater digestibility and the already mentioned high nutrient content. Furthermore, it is and provides an excellent hydration source.
All puppies and dogs do not drink as much water as they should. The reason why almost all dogs get easily used to this type of food is its richer taste and smell. This is especially true for older dogs, as their weakened taste sensations can be stimulated by the wet food, which will easily increase their appetite. Another thing is that is an excellent choice for dogs with teeth problems and chewing or jaw problems. However, there are a few important rules regarding its preparation.
Water should not be added, as this would decrease the nutritional value of the substances that the particular meal contains. Furthermore, adding water could change the natural form, smell and taste of the nutrients. This is why experts point out that when buying wet food, checking the ratio between water and nutrients is very important. It is due to a fact that only a food which was made from fresh meat and was cooked in its own juice, permanently stimulates the muscle tissue regeneration and digestion, which prevents overload of the liver and kidneys.
It is important to point out that the wet food must not contain colorants, fragrances, flavour enhancers, by-products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
This type is similar to wet one, with the difference that the canned foods are mostly ready-to-eat. This is why many owners who work or live a hectic lifestyle prefer those types of products.
There are advantages and disadvantages of canned food. The disadvantages include the fact that low quality dog cans contain up to 80 percent water. This means that the dog must eat up to 3 times more food in order to get a sufficient amount of nutrients, than it needs when eating a dry food.
The second disadvantage is the fact that wet food for dogs, unlike the dry one, cannot stand long. It can be stored in the refrigerator, but it is not recommended to store it for more than one day.
The advantages of these types of products are numerous. Canned food contains a high percentage of proteins and does not lose natural colors and flavors when conserving. This means that it is as appealing to dogs as the wet food is. Additionally, high percentage of water in canned food can help dogs who do not like drinking water. However, it is important to realise that the benefits of canned food for dogs relate exclusively to cans containing 50 percent of meet or more.
Frozen food has lately become very interesting due to arising trends. The owners are increasingly concerned about the quality and origin of the food the dogs consume. They want healthy foods that provide their pets with nutrients and solve their health problems, but are at the same time delicious. It is interesting that the owners are choosing raw, frozen food, because they believe that their pets would eat food similar to this one if they were living in the nature.
Most of today’s pet meals, however, are too processed and supplemented with additives of suspicious origin. As with people’s diet, excessive pet food processing is a major problem because it causes losing of necessary nutrients and disturbs the balance of vitamins and minerals important for health and development of pets.
Artificial intake of vitamins and other ingredients cannot be measured with the quality of raw, minimally processed meal. Some of the frozen food products available in the market contain pure raw meat or combination of raw meat and vegetables, while others contain slightly processed meat. Some of the benefits of frozen dog food consumption, especially if the food was not processed, are:
- Stable energy levels – less hyperactivity
- Improved internal organs shape
- Easier digestion
- Reduction of allergies
- Increased appetite
- Less nausea
- Reduction of joints or skin inflammation occurrence
- Increased levels of energy in older dogs
Best Dog Food Brands
As you might expected, there are at least hundreds of dog food manufacturers and each of them specialize in different types of products.
Some manufacturers specialize in a certain type of food or in a certain dog food product. Generally, there are several main features that make a difference between the manufacturers. Here’s the list of the most important one:
- Overall quality of the food they produce, which is usually marked with number of stars
- Ingredients used, which always have to be written on the declaration
- Origin of the used ingredients
- Nutrition value in the nourishment
- Analytical and general composition of the food
- Breeds they make the aliment for
- Age groups of the dogs they make the aliment for
- Water/nutrient ratio (especially for canned food)
Different manufacturers also sell food at different prices. More than the price itself, it is very important to read the food declaration very carefully. Reading the food package, declaration is the best way to determine what the package actually contains. The ingredients and binding analysis of these same ingredients (amount of protein, fat, sugar, cellulose and other components) are always printed on each food bag. It is equally important to know how to interpret the written information.
Natural Balance is a dog food brand that has been on the market since 1989. It is one of the most popular types of dog foods around the world.
The main credo of the Natural Balance food producers is to make a product that contains only purely natural and nutritious ingredients that will suit even the most vulnerable and sensitive dogs. They believe in high-quality ingredients chosen by nutrition experts, safety testing and system of choosing the right product for each individual dog.
Natural Balance brand products are the best choice for dogs with allergies and other reactions to food, as well as digestive problems that arise when fed with other types of dog food. There is a great choice of different foods with different ingredients for every dog’s taste. It mostly includes:
- Wet and dry food
- Canned version
- Treat types
- Food suitable for both young and older dogs
- Vegetarian formulas
Of course there are many other types that will feed even the most picky and delicate dogs. This producer is well-known for grain-free, high-protein, vegetarian and healthy digestion and healthy weight products.
This is another high-quality dog food brand. Owners who use Canidae food provide their pets with a delicious and nutritious meal. Peculiarity of Canidae products are cereal-free foods. This brand was in the market since 1996. A long tradition and safe and controlled production process ensures the highest quality products.
This producer provides a comprehensive diet for healthy dogs. The high quality Canidae meal is made in privately owned fields, farms and ranches, tested in their own research and development center and finally produced in production company Ethos Pet Nutrition, Brownwood, Texas.
Canidae offers a wide range of flavors and variations of food for puppies as well as adults and elderly dogs, in form of dry food, wet food and cans. They offer a wide variety of protein sources, including beef, bison, chicken, fish, turkey, duck, mackerel, salmon, rabbit and trout, enriched with legumes, vegetables and fruits.
They offer special formulas for weight management diet, as well as different food for small and large breeds. It is important to emphasize that this healthy food does not contain preservatives and artificial colors.
This brand cherishes a very long tradition – since 1926. In the same time, this is one of the most popular and most selling brands in the USA.
The reasons are many – Nutro is a reliable, trustworthy, well-known brand, whose users claim that their dogs’ hair had become shiny, they have a very healthy skin, good digestion and the dogs appreciate the excellent food smell and flavor.
They mostly offer dry food, wet food and treats. Nutro ingredients do not contain by-products of animal origin, but only quality natural ingredients. It provides excellent nutrition and supplies the dog with all the ingredients essential for life.
The most popular products include the Nutro Choice Adult with lamb and rice for normally active, sensitive and hypoallergenic dogs. It significantly improves the quality of skin and hair. Also, Nutro Choice Adult Light with lamb and rice is specially designed for overweight dogs and dogs with reduced activity levels. This product reduces and controls weight. It is a hypoallergenic product with high-quality fatty acids.
The philosophy of this company is that they always strive to find a better nutrition solution, have done so in the past 90 years and will do so in the future.
This food brand has been in the market for more than 25 years. Everything is being produced in Alberta, Canada, in a family company. This is what makes it stand out – fresh, domestic ingredients. This brand has won numerous awards worldwide for its high quality dog food.
Their biological production approach to the dogs nutrition philosophy has set a new standard for pet food industry. They emphasize to nurture dogs in an accordance with their evolutionary adaptation to diet rich in meat and proteins. Acana dog food is therefore rich in a variety of fresh meat and it contains less carbohydrates, lots of various fruits and vegetables. It does not contain cereals.
Its peculiarity is the fact that specialists in Acana have included different herbs into their food formulas in order to cleanse the dog organism naturally. Fresh, locally produced, locally grown ingredients are the key components of its most selling products, including Acana Adult Light and Fit – specially made for overweight dogs. Thy also offer Acana Pacifica Dog food, which is rich in salmon and seafood. They also include Acana Heritage program, which contains freshwater fish and local poultry.
Very popular is also Acana Singles, specially made for diet-sensitive pets or Acana Singles Treats – food rich in diverse ingredients such as vegetables and fruits.
One of the most famous brand in the world. It was established in 1957 and developed by the international company Mars – the leader in the field of food products for people and animals.
As you might expect, Pedigree products come in many forms. There are pedigree products for puppies and adult dogs, dry or wet versions, including both cans and bags. They are also well-known as the leader in the affordable dog food category.
This company uses ground whole corn, ground whole wheat, animal fat, meat and bone, beet pulp and vegetable oil in their products. Their offer includes dry, wet food and dog treats. Additionally, they have a very wide range of specialized products, regarding health issues of the dog. These include oral care, skin care, coat care, joints care, hip care, weight-sensitive products. Furthermore, all their products are age and size – tailored.
Some of their best-selling products include dry adult grilled steak and vegetable flavor, very popular Dentastix treat, as well as Puppy chicken and vegetable flavor dry food. Dentastix products are specially designed for different kinds, age groups and sizes of dogs and have different flavors, including mint, which makes them perfect for a safe, fun and delicious oral care aid.
Purina Dog Chow
This dog food producer has the longest tradition among all the brands presented here. It was founded in 1894. More than 120 years of tradition and experience have led to development of one of the world’s leading companies in pet food production. They primarily focus on dogs and cats, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.
Their dry products are one of the best-selling in the world and we are talking about all categories. For example, their Purina Dog Chow product covers all ages of dogs, as well as sizes – from small, medium to large breeds, providing optimal quality and natural ingredients that contribute to healthy and regular development of the dog. This is why Purina dog chow is one of the finest and best-selling dry foods in the market.
Natural ingredients, high quality and a long tradition place Purina at the very top of dog food producers in the world. They offer Dog Chow Sensitive, puppy, mature, adult, large breed and active food formulas, as well as special, sensitive programs. Except their popular dry food, they also offer quality wet food and treats.
Their well-known wet food product is the Alpo Chop House Fillet Mignon and Bacon flavored product. Frosty Paws and Waggin’ Train snacks are their best-known treats.
Orijen is led by a philosophy that we should look for life energy in the source, beginning of life. This is where the brand name Orijen comes from – Latin „origin“, meaning „beginning“. Orijen products have won many innovation and food excellence awards.
People in Orijen believe that food must be biologically clean, appropriate, locally found and made and always fresh. Their nourishments are very rich in proteins. As a general rule, it contains a small amount of carbohydrates and all their products are completely free from cereals.
It is interesting to point out that 80% of meat used in their products is suitable for human consumption according to its quality. Additionally, 20% of their products are fruits and vegetables (cereals, as mentioned before, represent 0%).
Their offer includes dry, freeze-dried food and freeze-dried treats. One of their most popular products – Orijen Six Fish – consists of fresh, raw, local fish. Other popular products include the „Original“ – chicken and turkey, eggs and fish mixture product suitable for all life stages of a dog and Orijen Regional Red Dog. This is is a premium food product, very rich in vital ingredients for dogs of all breeds. It contains only fresh ingredients like red meat (even up to 85%), fish and eggs, 15% of fruit and vegetables and 0% of cereal, with Angus beef, bison and wild boar meat.