Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dog Health - Food


The most popular and readily available type of dog food is the large variety found in supermarkets, pet stores, feed stores, and other places. Over the years the higher quality brands have formulated their foods to better meet the dietary needs of the consumer. Products that help provide the right balance of nutrition for all dog breeds, types, sizes and stages of life are available.

Dry (Kibble)

This popular style of food is typically the best economical choice. Various quantities from small amounts to bulk may be purchased providing you with several options. There’s no need for refrigeration so they don’t typically have a limited shelf life.

The dry crunchy texture promotes a healthy chewing action that helps reduce tartar buildup on teeth, promoting good oral health. Be sure to read the packaging carefully to determine if the right amount of wholesome ingredients and digestible protein are included. Ingredients are listed in order of how much is in the product, the first four listed are considered the primary.

Canned (Wet)

The advantage of this type of food is the long shelf life, availability, and dogs seem to love the taste and smell. However, there are some disadvantages using this often costly product. The soft texture doesn’t provide much in the way of canine oral health. Nutritional needs may not be met if the proper digestible proteins aren’t included and this can only be done if the right animal protein is being used to make the food. Indigestible proteins don’t break down as they pass through a dog. Water content is another issue with canned foods. The more water, the less nutrients available and with most canned foods having about 75% water it doesn’t provide the dog with the proper amounts of what they require to remain healthy.  A dog would have to consume larger amounts of food to meet their dietary needs. If you choose to purchase this style of food be sure that it’s labeled as having 100% nutritionally complete.  

Special Diet

Sometimes health issues like food sensitivity or allergies require a carefully balanced diet. Your vet may recommend a protocol of prescription dog foods or limited ingredients. 


Don’t be fooled by these meaty looking morsels filled with artificial colors, flavors, and scents. They are by far the least wholesome of all the commercial foods. They lack the crucial nutrients dogs need. However, they can be used as an occasional tasty treat.

Home Cooked

Many dog owners now prefer to be in control of what their dogs consume. This method of feeding isn’t simple, more time consuming, and often more costly. However, if prepared and researched correctly the dog can have its dietary needs met eating this way.


Dogs are genetically built to digest raw foods. Many ‘pit bull’ owners prefer to feed their dogs a meal as close to their ancestor’s diets as they can. Ideally these meals include not only meat but bones and organs as well. Sometimes supplements, grains, or vegetables are also added to the diet.

Be sure to do your research and consult your vet or other raw feeders to make sure this is the best feeding protocol for your dog.

Some are concerned about bones being part of the diet and whether they’re safe. Cooked bones like chicken or other poultry often splinter posing a choking risk. However, raw bones have many health benefits for your dog. Bones crunch into small pieces that clean teeth and gums promoting good oral and dental health. Also raw bones are a natural source of calcium and phosphorus.

There are a couple things to remember when providing raw food to your dog. Be diligent about cleaning the serving and preparation area to avoid bacteria issues. Avoid feeding raw pork products and risking the transmission of the parasite trichinella. Don’t microwave any raw meats even for a few seconds as this damages the live enzymes and hardens bones. Be sure to introduce any diet slowly, raw included.  

B.A.R.F. (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)

Similar to the raw diet format this feeding method goes back to the dog’s roots. Meals consist of raw meat, bones, ligaments, and organ tissues. The fresher the diet provided is the more nutritious.  Many people have used this method and swear by it. Although it’s more work and can be costly the health benefits often make up for it.

Gastro and chronic ear problems resolved, good oral health, teeth kept clean and white, bolstered immune system, allergy issues relieved, healthier coats are reported by users of this diet.

This style of feeding is common in Europe and Germany. For years United States was more reluctant due to the fear of parasites and bacteria. However, it’s said that the chances of properly handled human grade meat is quite minimum and definitely less risky than wild prey.

Be sure to research and consult your vet before starting this feeding method.

Disclaimer – In no way am I claiming to be an expert on these topics. These are only informational articles written to help dog owners. It’s recommended that you always do your own research and consult with your veterinarian for more detailed information. (01-26-13)

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