Dog Food 101

Written by: Mike Quartararo

Many new dog owners get very excited when they get a new
puppy or dog and really do not take the time or do the research to understand
the dog food options that are available to them. If you are picking up a puppy,
you most likely have a brief conversation about food with the breeder and maybe
walk away understanding how much food you need to feed your pup and how often.
Your focus is on developing a relationship with your new pup and introducing
your pup to its new environment. My suggestion would be to do some research on
dog food and puppy food and gain an understanding of the benefits of some of
the developments in dog nutrition that have recently taken place. Do this
research before you pick up your pup or new dog so that you can devote more of
your time to your new pal when he or she becomes a new member of your family.


Finding the right food for your dog requires a bit of effort
and experimentation, and should be an ongoing process. There are many different
types of food on the market today and almost all of them have different
ingredients and different concentrations of nutritional ingredients. I have
chosen to comment on this topic in general terms, as there are lots of strong
opinions out there about dog foods and their nutritional value. I am not going
to engage in this debate but will offer some information that will help you
better understand what you’re up against. Dog food ingredients are listed on
the label…but the makers neglect to mention how much of each ingredient is
actually in the food. Therefore, you have to review the ingredients and
understand that ingredients in dog foods are listed in order of their weight –
so the heaviest ingredients, those that make up the largest portion of the
food, are listed first.


It is generally believed that in most cases when evaluating
dog foods, “you get what you pay for.” The better quality ingredients typically
are more expensive and drive up the price of the food. It is best to look for
foods that first list ingredients that are easily digestible by the dog and
contain the right proteins like eggs, chicken, fish, meat. This will ensure
that you’re giving your dog a food that will provide the right kind of
nutritional content.


It is also important to understand that you need to know
your dog and its nutritional needs as your dog develops. No single dog food
formula will be absolutely right for your dog for the totality of its life. Your
dog will require different food formulas at different stages of its life.
Choose a dog food that is nutritionally matched to your dog age and activity
level. For example, a highly active dog or a working dog/sporting dog will
require a different nutritional formula than a senior dog or overweight dog.


I have first hand experience recently with changing food
formulas when I switched food for my five-year old Labrador, Wally. I had noticed
that he appeared to have dry skin and was shedding a lot. He also had gained a
little weight, but that could have been due to the fact that my two-year old
daughter was supplementing his diet with animal crackers and anything else that
hit the floor. I had been feeding Wally a standard grocery store brand of food
 with fairly low quality ingredients, and
after talking with some people, I switched higher grade Large Breed Adult


I have to honestly say that my wife and I noticed a
significant difference in Wally after about three to four weeks on this new
diet. His coat was much more healthy looking and shiny, and his skin was no
longer dry. We also were able to actually feed him less (quantity) by half a
cup per day, as the other food had more filler in it and less nutritional
value. We will also continue to try other formulas as Wally moves through
different stages of his life.


I would urge you to review the ingredients in the food that
you are feeding your dog, and if you can afford a higher quality food with high
quality ingredients, get your dog on one. Matching your dog’s activity level
and condition to it food is the best possible nutritional scenario for your
dog. Feeding your dog a food that has high quality ingredients is a really a
goal that all dog owners should strive for. I will continue to feed Wally
higher quality branded dog foods as their worth has been proven to me.

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