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– What Should You Feed Your Dog?

by Brigitte Smith

Choosing Healthy Food for Your Dog

Today’s pet food market is larger and more diverse than ever before.  While this offers a large number of choices in various types of pet food, it also presents a dilemma in choosing healthy food for your dog.  Are generic or store brands suitable for a dog?  Familiar name brands like Purina and Alpo?  Are the more expensive brands that advertise specially formulated ingredients (Science Diet, Eukanuba) really living up to their claims and worth the extra money?  All of these are valid questions that loving dog owners deserve to have answered.

Dog Food Considerations

There are several factors to consider when choosing appropriate food for your dog.  Dogs thrive on a mostly raw diet.  This is a dog’s natural diet, and is the best food you can give your dog – plenty of raw meat, with some bones, and a little raw (or lightly steamed) vegetables, and perhaps some fruit and occasional cooked rice. 

But many people do prefer the convenience of a pre-prepared food for their dogs.  That’s why it’s so very important to understand the difference between almost all commercial dog foods, and a very select few that really are healthy.  For information on healthy dog food, click here

Dogs have different nutritional needs at different stages in their lives.  Some things to consider when selecting the food you’ll give your dog follow.

· Your Dog’s Age

Puppies have different nutritional requirements to adult dogs, just as human babies and very young children have different needs to their adult counterparts.  Senior dogs also have different requirements than younger adult dogs.  So ensure that you select a food that is appropriate for your dog’s stage in life.

· Your Dog’s Health

Does your dog have a specific medical condition?  If so, the food you choose may need to be partially dictated by that condition.  Diabetic dogs need low-glucose foods and dogs with specific allergies (yes dogs can be allergic to all sorts of things, just like people) may require certain foods as well.  Your veterinarian can help you choose foods that are appropriate for a dog with a specific medical condition, although be very wary of any recommendations for commercially prepared foods. 

The fact is that the majority of vets are not adequately trained in correct nutrition for dogs (it’s not taught in veterinary school, believe it or not), and most of their information comes from the commercial dog food companies who want them to peddle their food.

· Your Dog’s Size or Body Type

Some dogs are overweight.  Some dogs are underweight.  Some have a natural tendency to get lots of exercise while others tend to prefer to lie around a lot.  There are, of course, small, medium, and large dogs as well as the miniature and toy breeds.  All of these different types of dogs may have different requirements for the type of food they need as well as how much of it.  A mostly raw diet will suit almost all dogs without exception.  If a dog has always been fed on such a diet, he or she is unlikely to be overweight or underweight to any significant degree.  But dogs who have been fed commercial pet food may well have weight (and other health) problems, which need to be monitored.

· Your Budget

Dog food can be expensive, there’s no doubt about it.  And where dog food is concerned, the rule really is “you get what you pay for.”  Low cost generics and store brands will lighten the burden on your wallet, but are definitely not a healthy choice for your dog, as they are made with cheap ingredients and lots of fillers.  Indeed, they contain much that is positively bad for your dog's long term health. 

The so-called “premium” brands available at your supermarket, your pet store, and even from your vet, are not much better (if at all).   And the thing about real quality, healthy, pet food is that although it may seem more expensive, you actually need to feed less.  So in the end result, the cost of these ultra healthy foods compare very favorably with the rubbish which is passed off as dog food.

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