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Healthy dog foods

7 Tips for Selecting Healthy and Nutritious Dog Food

Food is one of our basic needs. This also applies to our four-pawed friends. A well-balanced diet with healthy and nutritious dog food is essential to the overall well-being of our pooch. Not every kind of food is suitable for our pup. Thus, we have to ensure that we pick the right food for them. Here are some reminders for all dog parents out there:

Healthy dog foods

Kibble is Not a Good Option for Your Dog

One of the popular foods for dogs sold in the market is kibble. The first-ever commercial dog food was introduced by businessman James Spratt. During his travel to London, he witnessed ship crew members throwing leftover biscuits to the waiting dogs at the dock. This gave him an idea to create kibbles. They are made up of raw meats, vegetables, carbs, and fillers.

The ingredients seem to be harmless. But why do experts say that we shouldn’t feed our dogs with kibbles? The answer is simply because they are “processed”. We all know that processed foods use additional preservatives and toxins to ensure they will last longer, and kibbles are no exception. Exposure to these components may impact the health of your pooch.

Therefore, it is better to feed our furry friends with homemade meals. One study in Belgium even reveals that high-quality foods make our pooch live 32 months longer compared to letting them consume commercial pet foods. So, if you want to spend more time with your animal companion, skip the kibble and go for healthier options.

Check if all the Ingredients are USDA-Certified

As pet parents, we only want the best for our puppies. That is why when you’re in the market for healthy dog foods, you must ensure that all the ingredients are certified by USDA.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an agency that keeps an eye on farmers and ranchers in the USA, ensuring that all their products are clean and safe to consume. USDA follows strict observations when it comes to food quality. Business owners are compelled to meet high standards not just for human foods but for pet foods as well.

If you notice a “USDA-certified” logo in a pet food item, then you can be sure that it will not cause your dog any harm.

Choose 100% Preservative- and Filler-Free Dog Food

Filler-Free Dog Food

The foods that we eat should be as natural as possible. If we can eliminate preservatives and other toxic chemicals, the better it is for our health. This goes for our four-pawed companions, too.

Almost all types of commercial dog food contain fillers. They are mainly used to add bulk and have no nutritional value. So why add them to pet food? Worse, these ingredients make the food difficult to digest. This can result in your pooch having digestive issues, such as diarrhea, bloating, or food allergies. Some examples of filler ingredients include:

  • Cereal by-products
  • Citrus pup
  • Corn bran
  • Corn gluten
  • Cottonseed hulls
  • Modified corn starch
  • Oat hulls
  • Peanut hulls
  • Rice bran
  • Rice hulls
  • Soybean hulls
  • Soybean meal
  • Wheat gluten
  • Wheat mill run

Another ingredient that you should look for when buying dog foods is artificial preservatives. Some artificial preservatives are not allowed to be consumed by humans, let alone dogs. These chemicals are mostly synthetic. When checking the label, it’s better to not buy that dog food item if it has one of these artificial preservatives:

  • BHA/BHT
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Sodium Metabisulphite
  • TBHQ

Light Cooking Maximizes the Nutrition & Taste of Food

Preparing home-cooked meals is not only economical but also a great way to introduce healthy food to your family, your dog included. By cooking, you know that the ingredients you use are harmless and preservative-free. Additionally, some may assume that dogs only need protein but this is wrong. Water, starches, carbohydrates, vegetables, vitamins, and mineralsare also necessary for our furry companions to sustain their nutritional requirements.

A strict protein diet will leave your dog deficient from many essential vitamins. Because of this, your pooch could have thyroid problems and other deficiencies. On the other hand, lack of protein may cause muscle deterioration, poor immune function, and blood disorders.

Take note that dogs of varying ages have different food requirements. They need a certain amount of energy so they can push through with their daily activities. It’s best to consult a veterinarian regarding the right amount of calories your dog needs so that you can incorporate these macronutrients in their meals.

Always Go for Tested Feeding Trials

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a private non-profit corporation that aims to ensure that commercial animal feed and pet food contain safe ingredients. Although no regulatory authority, this organization works closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To achieve their goal, they conduct scientific studies and feeding trials.

In a feeding trial, animals are fed with a certain diet following AAFCO guidelines. Through the help of veterinary experts, the health of the animals is continually evaluated and monitored, even before beginning the trial up until after the trial. Should the animals present any clinical or pathological signs of nutritional excess or deficiency during or at the end of the trial, then the diet fails. Their protocol is that the animals shouldn’t lose 15% of their starting body weight. Test duration lasts for up to 26 weeks.

Passing an AAFCO feeding trial sets the bar high when it comes to canine or feline diet. Pet food that passes the AAFCO feeding trial tells consumers that the product provides complete and balanced nutrition for certain species and life stages. This means that the food product contains nutrients that a normal, healthy pet needs.

Look for Brands That Are Transparent About the Pet Food Ingredients

Don’t forget to check the label of the dog food you plan to purchase. We do it when we shop for food for our family. Our dogs are an extension of our family so it only makes sense to check what we’re really feeding them.

ConsumerAffairs says that pet parents of this generation are now wiser when it comes to purchasing pet food. Package labeling is not only the main source when checking for the ingredients of a certain pet food product. With the help of the Internet, we can easily access this information online.

Although ingredients don’t totally tell us about the nutritional value of specific pet food, it is still important to check its label. The ingredient list displayed on the label can help you determine the quality of the food.

We often see the ingredients listed at the back of the product. The ingredients listed in a pet food product should be in descending order by weight. Beef, lamb, and chicken are often listed first since their water content is higher than dry ingredients like grains. AAFCO’s regulations also state that ingredients must be listed individually and not collectively. This means that ingredients like “animal protein products” are prohibited.

Transparency in the ingredients brings us peace of mind knowing that our furry friends only consume healthy food. This is also beneficial for companies. The more transparent they are with their products, i.e. listing all the ingredients used and their origin, then the more consumers will likely trust their brand.

Consider a Special Recipe for Your Dog If Needed

Nutritious Dog Food

There’s no scientific evidence stating that dog nutrition and healthy food is best achieved through home-prepared meals. However, it brings a lot of benefits for your beloved pet. Aside from gaining control over your dog’s diet, you can also fight some intolerance issues through home-cooked meals. Some dogs are also picky eaters so perhaps cooking for them would suffice. Lastly, preparing a meal for them can be an avenue to enjoy a bonding experience or simply express your love towards them.

Female dogs or bitches also need a specialized diet. Since they will be carrying and nursing puppies, they need additional nutrients to prevent malnutrition. Ask your vet for suggestions on how to prepare healthy bitch food recipes.

Ready to prepare a meal for your dog? There are a lot of recipes online that you can try. No need to be fancy. As long as the meal contains healthy and fresh ingredients, then it will be beneficial for your beloved pet. Check out this list of suggested ingredients to include in your dog’s meal.

Protein

  • Beans
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Turkey

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach

Carbohydrates

  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Yams

Conclusion

Food plays a major role in our dog’s life. That is why we must pay attention to what we are feeding them. With the variety of brands claiming they offer healthy and nutritious food and supplements for dogs, it’s important to check their nutritional value first before purchasing. If you have the time, home-made meals for your pooch are recommended.

Having trouble selecting dog food? We are here to help make things easier for you. Rely on us for valuable tips on how you can provide your four-pawed friend the best care possible. Visit our website today!

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