The recent run of dog food recalls has many pet parents shopping for a new brand. Educate yourself about dog food essentials, both in terms of ingredients and safety, and then use DexKnows to find listings for local veterinarians, who sell their preferred brands, and pet supply stores.
T. J. Dunn Jr., DVM, columnist for PetMD, recommends meat-based diets over grain-based diets for healthy dogs. Dogster.com concurs, suggesting “a diet that is 50 percent vegetable, 40 percent meat and 10 percent grain.”
Determining whether a dog food qualifies as meat-based, though, can be difficult. Chicken, lamb, turkey, fish, beef and venison all make excellent providers of protein for your pup, but their presence on an ingredients list does not necessarily guarantee a primarily meat-based food. Ingredients get listed by weight, and while chicken may be first, if four types of grain come next, the food may not qualify as meat-based as the grains could outweigh the meat.
The life stage of your dog also factors into choosing an appropriate food. Puppy food will have higher levels of protein, fat, phosphorus and salt than an adult food. Senior food will have lower levels of protein and calories than both, and it may have supplements such as glucosamine to ease discomfort from aging joints.
If your pup suffers from a food allergy or has a metabolism disorder, you also must factor that into your decision. Cocker spaniels and Dalmatians, for example, commonly have food allergies, and Malamutes and Siberian huskies can be genetically predisposed to a zinc deficiency. Your veterinarian can help you determine any special nutritional requirements.
The above information will put you on the path for finding the appropriate food for your dog, but additional research will be required, as will plenty of trial and error. Start by noting the age, health, breed and activity level of your pup, and then consult your veterinarian or a knowledgeable employee at your local pet supply store. Owners of mom-and-pop establishments often serve as excellent resources for this expertise in your area. Share your dog’s makeup and ask for recommendations.
Do not feel as though you must make a purchase on the spot, though. Go home and check a respected website such as Dog Food Analysis for additional information about the recommended food, including its pros and cons. Once you do decide on a dog food, purchase a small bag to ensure your pup not only likes the food but also can digest it easily.
Even after you find a food that meets all of your dog’s needs, regularly check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for pet food recalls. Your local pets and pet supplies store, as well as your veterinarian, also can help answer any questions you have in this area. For example, even the highest quality foods can fall victim to contamination at a manufacturing plant, but the food you purchased may not be included in the recall.