Choosing the Right Dog Food
Pet owners first think about what type of food to choose. Learn about your dog’s dietary needs, and see how they gain from commercial, homemade, and other food they eat.
Dog's Dietary Needs
Dogs are carnivores, or meat-eaters, by nature. However, they metabolize carbohydrates quite efficiently and can synthesize some essential nutrients, such as taurine, vitamin A, arachidonic acid and niacin, from eating plant matter. Most companion dogs eat dry kibble or canned commercial dog food. The protein in those foods usually comes from fresh or dried meat, poultry or fish, or their by-products. Soybeans, corn and wheat are other common protein sources. High-quality dog foods often combine proteins from both plant and animal sources. Dog food should contain a combination of ten essential amino acids, which dogs can only get from what they eat. Carbohydrates, fats, fiber, minerals and vitamins are other important components of a well-balanced canine diet.
Puppy, adult and senior diets are specifically formulated to meet dogs’ nutritional needs during various life stages. Puppy or growth foods typically contain more protein, calories and fat than adult foods, which growing puppies need. Overfeeding a growth diet can cause a number of problems, including obesity and growth-related joint and bone problems, especially in giant breeds. Puppies should be fed 3 or 4 times daily. By about 6 months, they can transition to an
Some owners elect to feed their dogs homemade meals. This may be recommended by the dog’s veterinarian to address specific medical conditions or dietary needs. Other people just like to cook for their dogs and for whatever reason feel that homemade food may be tastier and more nutritious than commercially produced products. Unfortunately, the average pet owner doesn’t realistically have the time, experience, patience, money or nutritional background necessary to make well-balanced, safe, completely nutritious
Pet food packages contain lots of information, not all of which is useful or easy to interpret. Labels can look surprisingly similar, even though the products’ nutritional quality may vary greatly. Consumers need some way to compare pet foods and their nutritional content. This overview should help owners understand the information included on dog food labels and get the most out of it.Several U.S. agencies are involved in regulating the production, labeling, distribution and sale
Table scraps and other “people food” can compete with and imbalance the nutritional benefits of high-quality, well-researched commercial diets. Table scraps often add empty calories, predisposing dogs to putting on weight. Obesity is on the rise in companion dogs and is a serious health problem, especially in this country. People food can be mighty tasty to a dog, interfering with its appetite and souring it on the taste of its regular diet. Fatty foods, such