The Skinny On Dog Food Ingredients

dog-food“You are what you eat” is true for our four legged family members as well. But with all the complicated ingredient panels, do you really know what your dog is eating or are you just picking the prettiest package with the best price?

You might not realize how much your pet food choice is affecting your pet. Food quality affects:

  • How much they eat
  • How much they poop
  • How much the shed
  • The quality of their coat (shiny, dry, etc.)

So how do you decide what your dog should eat? Here are a few tips:

  • Consult your vet-of course this is the #1 thing you should do before making any changes or decisions regarding your dogs diet. Each breed has different nutritional needs, and each dog has its own health challenges. Free feeding a Beagle or Basset Hound a food in high fat content could lead to canine obesity, so consult your vet for guidance prior to purchase.
  • Quality, not quantity-When comparing price, look at the price per ounce, not the price per bag. Higher quality foods may cost more per bag, but you’ll require less each meal. Higher quality foods tend to be higher in protein, and therefore more filling, so your dog will eat less.
  • Check the ingredients-Just like human foods, dog food also has ingredients that can be harmful to your dog’s health. Some ingredient warnings to look out for are:
    • “By Product”-By products are derived from animals that were rejected by food inspectors for one of the following “Four D’s: Dead, Dying, Disabled or Diseased”. These by products were unfit for human consumption and put into dog food.
    • Fat within the first 4 ingredients: studies show that dog food with fat as one of the first four ingredients carry a higher risk for bloat since they don’t digest effectively.
    • Allergens-Dogs have allergies too so beware of ingredients such as wheat, corn and other fillers that your dog could be allergic to.

Other ingredients may have effect on different dogs, for example, dogs with white faces and certain “smushed face” breeds (Shit-zu’s, pugs, etc.) are more apt to get those nasty tear stains. The redness in the stain can be caused by the red beet in your dogs food or a red dye.

If this information has grossed you out enough to research your dogs food and you decide to make a switch, don’t forget to consult with your vet first and to integrate the food gradually, not “cold turkey”. Start with 75% old food and 25% new food for about 4 days, then 50% old food and 50% new food, for about 4 days, then make the switch. You may notice a change in stool during this time it’s not unusual for a dog to get an upset stomach during the switch. This is why it’s important to consult with your vet and know your dogs normal eating habits.

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