Everything You Need To Know About Dog Food

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It is easy to get lost in the excitement after bringing home a dog for the first time. However, the only way your pooch will thrive is if you provide him with the things they need including a healthy diet. Many dog owners, unfortunately, assume that walking into a store and picking something off the shelf is how one should shop for dog food. Others shop based on looking at the pictures on the package or price. The goal of this post is to help you understand just how important the right food for your pup is. It also highlights everything you need to know in regard to feeding your pooch.

Why does dog food matter

The power of quality nutrition cannot be overestimated. Like humans, a balanced nutrition is incredibly important for dogs to grow and thrive. As a pet owner, it is your job to select high quality food that provides your dog’s nutritional needs. However, the fact that dog foods come in varieties makes it hard to know which brands deliver quality and which ones don’t.

Types of dog foods

A few decades ago, many dog foods took the form of traditional kibbles. There were also a few high-end frozen or fresh food options. The advancement of technologies means that you can now find all kinds of foods at a pet store. The common options include:

1. Kibble

Otherwise known as dry dog food, kibble is the most common and cheapest type of dog food. It contains very low moisture content. In addition to being available in the form of kibble, dry dog food is also available as biscuits, mixers or flake foods. Another advantage of kibble is that it is easy to serve compared to other types. This is because it doesn’t require unthawing, cooking or any other kind of preparation. You simply scoop it and serve it into the dog’s dish.
On the downside, many dry foods on the market aren’t of good nutritional quality. Manufacturers have a habit of adding preservatives, artificial colors as well as preservatives. Unhealthy fillers and ingredients of zero nutritional value are also common.

2. Frozen and freeze dried dog food

Raw dog food comes in either frozen or freeze dried form. The main reason for keeping raw food at extremely low temperatures is that it is susceptible to bacteria if stored otherwise. Many pet experts recommend these foods as they have plenty of nutritional content for your dog. It’s however important to note that freeze dried and frozen food is expensive and costs at least two or three times as much as traditional kibble.
In addition to being costly, raw food doesn’t last very long. Frozen food can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, after which you mix it with water and leaver in the fridge for 3-4 days. That is a lot more prep work than most pet owners want.
When it comes to frozen food, safe handling is a necessary precaution. Some of the things you should keep in mind when going with this option include:
• The bowl and any other utensils that were used in the preparation of your dog’s food should be cleaned with soapy, hot water and dried thoroughly before being used again.
• Be aware of the state of the packaging and ensure that there aren’t holes or tears
• Any leftover food should be stored as per the manufacturer’s instructions, usually sealed and refrigerated at the bottom shelf of the fridge
• Clean your hands thoroughly and sanitize any surfaces touched by the food after preparation

3. Moist or canned dog food

Canned food is the complete opposite of kibble and has high moisture content. Moist dog food is particularly great for older dogs or those with poor dental health as it is soggy and doesn’t require chewing. Sterilizing canned food requires cooking it at very high temperatures. The food is sold in cans, pouches or foil trays and can be in the form of chunks in gravy, meatloaf or chunks in jelly. Like frozen food, it contains more essential nutrients compared to kibble and is expensive.
It is important that you can keep an eye on the amount of moisture and protein content. Keep in mind that more moisture content means that your pup will need to consume more food so as to meet the daily nutritional requirement. Ensure that you read the label completely and only purchase something that is 100% nutritionally complete.

Large breed puppy food

Large breed puppies have a significantly heavy adult dog weight of 50 pounds and above. The fact that they grow faster and remain puppies longer compared to smaller breeds means that they are vulnerable to certain skeletal problems. Such include osteochondrosis, elbow dysplasia, developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) and canine hip dysplasia just to name a few. These puppies are also incredibly sensitive to nutritional imbalances.
The good news is that choosing the right large breed puppy food can help avert the above problems. You can start by ignoring internet guides that provide misleading information. For instance, many claim that proteins can lead to hip dyslexia. That said, let’s explore factors associated with joint problems in dogs.

Excess calcium

Large breed puppies have problems regulating how much calcium should be absorbed into the bloodstream. On the other hand, too little calcium has its own risks. This makes regulating the amount of calcium fed to your dog quite important. So how do you ensure your dog gets the right amount of this nutrient?
The standard dog food for your large breed puppy should adhere to a calcium to phosphorous ratio that ranges from 1:1 to 1.8:1. For high calorie foods, ensure that they contain 1.2-1.8% calcium and 1.0-1.6% phosphorous.

Overfeeding

Free choice is a popular feeding method where you put the food in the bowl so that you dog can eat continuously when he wants. While it eradicates the hassle of refilling the bowl often, it leads to the danger of overfeeding. This in turn causes the puppy to grow up too fast, which can lead to serious problems.

Diabetic dog food

Like any other medical condition, diabetes in dogs calls for special dietary requirements. This disease presents itself as extremely high or low blood sugar levels. The goal, when it comes to a diabetic dog, is to keep the blood sugar levels as normal as possible.
While the topic of best diabetic dog food is still being researched, there are guidelines that have been laid in place. Many experts recommend high fibre dog food with low fat content. This is because such foods have fewer calories and help slow down entrance of glucose into the bloodstream. Keep in mind that fiber takes water from the body, hence the importance of ensuring that you dog drinks plenty of water to prevent constipation.
You have to abstain from giving your pup treats throughout the day, as this causes the blood sugar levels to spike. Consider giving treats about 4-6 hours after an insulin injection when the insulin is at peak effectiveness. Avoid any treats that have high sugar or carbohydrate content and stick with ones that have plenty of proteins.

Low phosphorus dog food

If your pup suffers from kidney problems, he can benefit a great deal from low phosphorous dog food. The amount of phosphorous that should be ingested depends a lot on how advanced the kidney disease is. The first signs of kidney disease include the need for your dog to urinate or drink water more often. It is a survival instinct that allows dogs keep as much waste out of the body as possible. And while the cycle of drinking and urinating may work at first, there will never be enough water to get rid of the toxins that build up in the body.
Fortunately for pet owners, a nutritional approach can help better manage the advancement of kidney disease and even treat it. You will need to go for foods with high moisture content as it is needed to flush out toxins. This also means investing in low phosphorus dog food and anything that’s free of garlic or sodium.

Gluten free dog food

Gluten free food is best recommended for pups with celiac disease, which isn’t common among dogs. Irish Setters are the exception as they have been known to be gluten intolerant due to congenital disease. This breed will certainly benefit from gluten free dog food.
It’s important to remember that gluten free doesn’t always mean grain free. Gluten is the main protein found certain grains including rye, barley and wheat. However, gluten is not found in all grains and gluten-free foods don’t contain this protein.

Feeding fussy and greedy dogs

Fussy and greedy eating habits present a challenge when to comes to feeding time. Some dogs refuse to easy, even with the absence of health problems. The important thing to remember is that fussy dogs are fast learners and you can use that to your advantage. Consider feeding by hand or trying new foods when your dog refuses to eat. This works the same way as training a dog to understand the commands given and obey them. Ensure that you adhere to a strict feeding timetable as this will help build appetite between meals. Keep in mind that dogs can go for days without food with no ill effects and as such, you shouldn’t be afraid to exercise patience.
Greedy dogs always seem to be hungry and always want to eat. This can lead to overeating, which has serious health consequences. Labradors, for instance, are constantly begging and scavenging. The first step towards addressing this issue involve knowing your dog’s weight. If the weight is below normal, then the hunger is justified. That said, you will need to gradually increase the dog’s food.
Another reason for constant hunger is a change from low quality to high quality food. This is because high quality dog food contains less fillers and more nutritional content, which in turn leads to reduced feeding amounts. Your dog will get used to this with time.

Conclusion

There are many factors that go into deciding what to feed your pup. There are, however, general rules that apply. For instance, high fibre dog food is essential to keep your pup feeling full and avoid overeating. On the other hand, low phosphorus content is essential for dogs with kidney disease. The most important thing is to ensure that you consult your doctor before putting your pup on a specific diet.