It is common when I work with people and their dogs that one of their first questions is what should I feed my dog? My answer is always the same. Pay for a quality holistic dog food with limited fillers. That is the simplest answer, but there are many things we should look at when selecting a food for our beloved dog.
1. The first thing to look for is how much of the food contains fillers. The typical filler for lower quality food is corn. If grain is going to be in food it needs to be easily digested and offer some nutritional value. I feel rice based foods are always much better for the dog than corn. Whole grains are good in limited amounts. Less filler in a dog food also means less waste coming out of your dog.
2. When you are shopping for dog food it is easy to just grab and go. However, just like food for people, the fresher the better. So remember to check the freshness date before you make your purchase.
3. Do some research. Each dog food company almost always has a supporting website. In some cases dog food websites can be chalked full of valuable info. The key is to look for common sense information, not a slick marketing pitch.
4. Make sure that the food you buy has essential fatty acids. The best foods contain a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 of at least 7 to 1. These essential fatty acids are important to your dog in many ways for their overall heath, disease prevention and a healthy coat for Fido.
5. Make sure the dog food has a wide range of minerals for complete nutrition. As with essential fatty acids, the body does not produce minerals so they must be introduced in the diet. Again the better food manufacturers understand the importance of trace elements in a dogs’ diet in the right amounts.
6. If cost is a factor, then a high quality food is better for your pocket book too. Higher quality foods will satisfy your dogs’ appetite with much less food. Since there is more available nutrition, you do not need to feed them as much and they will still have a much better diet.
7. Look for a supplier in your area that is knowledgeable about the dog food they sell. Your vet is always a go to source when it comes to your dogs’ diet, but local resources like a high quality dog food store should still be considered. They can help you compare the brands that they sell to find the best choice for you.
8. You also need to consider the exercise demands of your dog. If you have a hunting or working dog that burns a lot of calories, you may need a food with higher protein so they can maintain their weight and energy levels.
9. Check your dogs’ weight regularly. If your dog is a couch potato, you need to make sure they are not eating too much. A good simple way to check their weight is to feel their rib cage. You should be able to feel their ribs, but not see them. Adjust their food intake as needed.
10. The most important factor in picking the correct food is to take your time and do some research. Seek advice from your veterinarian and from local dog food suppliers. This should help steer you in the right direction.
Please remember that high quality dog foods are one the biggest factors in keeping your dog healthy and fit of body and mind.
Jason McAllister owns and operates County Line Feed and Supplies in Edgewood, New Mexico. The store offers hay sales and supplies for horses, livestock and dogs. He can offer suggestions for horse and livestock feed and care.