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Ultimate Guide to Pick The Best Dog Food

Human and their best four-legged companion friendship’s goes way back. After being domesticated, people have been keeping them for protection, work, and as their companion. There are so many good things about dogs, people can ask you to list the reason why you love your dog and you won’t have a hard time doing that. Dogs are only here for a short time in our life, this is why it’s so important to take care of their health and happiness.

What can we do as a responsible owner to keep them healthy? We can start with the thing they meet every day. It’s their food. What is a dog’s natural diet? What should be inside your dog’s food? Does the food you’re providing have enough nutrition? Can you feed your dog human’s food every day? A better understanding of how dogs use the various nutrients in food and how much of them they need can help you make a healthier life for your pet.

What is A Dog’s Natural Diet?

Unlike cats who are obligate carnivores, dogs are descended from omnivores. What does that mean? Cats have to eat meat to survive, but dogs are not strict meat eaters. Mostly, dogs aren’t picky about their food and they are adaptable to a wide range of ingredients, texture, and form in terms of what they will eat. Basically, your dog can get protein from animal-based food or from a vegetarian diet.

“Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats” by National Academy of Sciences explains that normal adult dogs should get at least 10% of their total calories from protein, older dogs need as much as 50% more. So you can feed your dogs both meats and vegetables!

What Should Be Inside My Dog’s Food?

Every dog’s needs are unique, its nutritional needs depend on its size, breed, stage in life, activities, and so on. Your dog needs several different kinds of nutrients to survive and do normal activity in their daily life, those are amino acids from proteins, fatty acids and carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. In terms of calories, energy comes from three major dietary components: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Protein

Dogs can’t make the essential protein from their own body. There is 10 essential of amino acids that dogs need and must be supplied in the diet. Essential amino acids include arginine, methionine, histidine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, threonine, leucine, tryptophan, lysine, and valine. Non-essential amino acids can be synthesized by your pet body and are not needed in the diet.

Protein is needed inside cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies, and are essential for growth, maintenance, reproduction, and repair.

There are two sources protein you can get for your dog, animal-based proteins and plant-based protein. Animal-based proteins such as chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish, and egg have complete amino acid profiles. Plant-based proteins are in vegetables, cereals, and soy, but these are considered incomplete proteins.

Fatty acids

You might think it’s bad for your dog to eat fatty food and you’re afraid of making your dog obese…it is not wrong, but it is only risky if you give them too much. Giving fats on the right amount is important because fats are the most concentrated form of food energy, providing your pet with more than twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates.

What’s good about fats? They are needed for cells structure and for the production of some hormones.  Without fats, fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, D, E, K, can’t be absorbed into the body. They also protect our pets’ internal organ from damage and can be used as energy if the body doesn’t have any carbs left to use. They make the taste and texture of the dog’s food better as well.

Essential fatty acids are good for your dog’s skin and coat.  A deficiency of essential fatty acids may result in reduced growth or increased skin problems. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid for dogs.

Other important essential fatty acids are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. They act a vital role in healing inflammation, studies have shown their benefit for inflammation in skin, joints, intestines, and kidneys. If your dog doesn’t take enough omega-3, it might have vision problems and impaired learning ability. Omega-6 is also important for physiologic effects in the body.

Carbohydrates

As an omnivorous animal, dogs can get their carbs from sugars, starches, and dietary fibers. These things can be found in cereals, legumes, and other plant foodstuffs. Absorbable carbs, like glucose and fructose, can be absorbed directly. Digestible carbs need to be digested with body’s enzymes. Carbs are the first choice for the body’s energy needs. Keep in mind that, for puppies, high fiber food isn’t recommended.

Vitamins

Vitamins are needed for dogs metabolism activities.  Dogs need a small number of vitamins for their metabolism and most of them can’t be synthesized in the body, so we should include them in their diet.

Lacking vitamins, hypovitaminosis, in dogs can happen, but giving them too much is also not good as they can get hypervitaminosis or poisoning due to excess amount of vitamin. Keep in mind you should consult to your vet first before giving any vitamin supplement.

Here below is the list of the vitamins, their functions and how much you should give them (*Daily needs for an adult dog weighing 33 pounds, consuming 1,000 Calories per day. g = grams; mg = milligrams; μg = micrograms)

Vitamin A

Functions: eyesight, growth, immune system, good for pregnant dogs.

Recommended allowance: 379 μg

Lacking Vit A: loss of appetite, body weight loss, eye problems, skin problems, easier to get sick.

Too much of vit A: not good for dog’s bone and its blood vessels, dehydration, joint pain.

Vitamin D

Functions: Bone

Recommended allowance: 3.4 μg

Lacking vit D: lethargy, loss of muscles, bone swelling and bending.

Too much of vit D : loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, dry hair.

Vitamin E

Functions: antioxidant

Recommended allowance: 8 μg

Lacking of vit E : degeneration of bones and muscles, bad reproductivity, bad eyesight.

Too much of vit E : –

Vitamin K

Functions: wound healing and bone’s protein

Recommended allowance: 0.41 mg

Lacking of vit K : –

Too much of vit K : –

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Functions: body metabolism.

Recommended allowance: 0.56 mg

Lacking of vit B1 : poor growing, weight loss, bad reflex in puppies, heart problem in adult dogs.

Too much of vit B1 : –

Vitamin B6

Functions: good for blood circulation, body metabolism, strengthen the immune system

Recommended allowance: 0,4 mg

Lacking of vit B6 : loss of appetite, weight loss in puppies, convulsions, muscle twitching and anemia in adult dogs.

Too much of vit B6 : poor motoric control and poor balance, muscle weakness.

Vitamin B12

Function: enzyme metabolism

Recommended allowance: 9 μg

Lacking of vit B12: loss of appetite, poor body’s defense mechanism, anemia.

Too much of vit B12 : –

Minerals

Like vitamins, minerals are also needed for your dogs to keep them healthy. There are 12 essential minerals nutrients for dogs, they are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chlorine, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine. To sum it all up, basically, minerals are most important for bones and teeth, maintaining fluid balance and they play an important role in many metabolic reactions.

Water

Last but not least, water. Water is the most important nutrient, it holds 60-70% of adult pet’s body weight. Your pets need to have clean water available all the times.  Water deficiency can cause dehydration. Dehydration is a serious thing to be well aware of because just 10% dehydration in the body can cause serious illness, while 15% loss can result in death.

Does The Food You’re Providing to Your Dogs Have Enough Nutrition?

Dogs eat larger but less frequent meals than cats do. It is fine to feed an adult dog one or two times per day. Puppies, however, need two to three daily meals. You might be wondering are you giving too much food for your dog? Or is it too little? One thing to know if you are doing a good job is to see your dog’s body. There are ways to know their body condition, it is called a body score index. Are they underweight, ideal, or overweight?

Underweight

If you can see your dog’s ribs, backbones, and their hips bones, and you feel no fat or muscle on the bones, your dog is not getting enough food. Adult dogs who are underfed will be unlikely to do anything and is easier to get sick, and it’s a bad thing if it happens to pregnant or nursing dogs as this can lead to seizure and fever. Puppies may be stunted in their growth and adult dogs may get osteoporosis.

Ideal

If you can feel your dog’s ribs, and you can see it’s waist when viewed from above, and you can see it’s tummy tuck when viewed from a side, your dog is on ideal weight. A healthy dog will show you clear eyes and a slightly wet nose. You can also see their hair and coat because a healthy dog will have a nice and shiny coat.

Overweight

If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs and see fat deposits over his back and his tail, and you can’t see his waist behind the ribs when you see them from above, also you can’t see his tummy tuck in profile, your dog is obese. It’s more common for older and neutered dog to get obese because they are becoming more passive. Keep in mind if your dog is overweight, their risk to get diabetes, inflammation in bones and other heart-related problem may increase.

Does Your Dog Have Sensitive Skin?

Is your dog has been having hair loss or itching and reddish skin and you can’t find any tick or fleas? There are chances that your dog might be having sensitive skin. Dogs with sensitive skins are more prone to allergy. This is because their body reacts to things, such as food or environment, as an allergen to their immune system. If you have eczema, when we eat everything in sight, our skin starts to flare up, that’s because some food are prone to cause inflammation. Just like us human, dogs with sensitive skins can’t eat carelessly. You want to be choosing specific dog food that are meant for dogs with sensitive skin.

Does Your Dog’s Mouth Smell Bad?

Dog’s bad breath is not something to be taken of lightly, because it might be a sign of dental disease. Dental disease can be a source of infection that can spread into other parts of their body, including their heart, kidney, and liver. To take care of their teeth, there are some products that can reduce tartar and plaque accumulation. One of the easiest ways is to give dogs dental chew, as some of them won’t let you brush their teeth.

Is Your Dog Pregnant?

If your dog is becoming a mother, you might want to consider getting a milk replacer as an additional nutrition intake for the pups. Sometimes, lactating mother dog has trouble producing milk. Or sometimes the puppies they give birth too are too many. This happens to the big dog’s breed. To prevent them from giving too many milk thus leading to hypocalcemia (very low calcium level in their body), it’s okay to give the mother a break by giving the puppies a milk replacer.

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Can I Feed My Dog Human’s Food Every Day?

The answer is yes and no, even though there are plenty of human foods that your dog can safely eat but there are also many things they need to avoid. This means you can’t give them 100% human food diet. For example, yes, you can give them meat or chicken, but you should take caution and reconsider if it’s too salty for your dog.

There are many foods you absolutely CAN’T give to your dog, as they can affect your dog’s health. According to Charleston Animal Society, here’s some of the example of what human’s food you can’t give to your dog:

  • Alcoholic beverages (they can cause coma and even death)
  • Cat food (it’s generally too high in protein and fats)
  • Caffeine (it can be toxic, and adversely affect the heart and nervous system)
  • Chocolate (in large amounts, chocolate can also be toxic)
  • Fat trimmings (they can cause pancreatitis)
  • Raisins and grapes (they can damage the kidneys)

Conclusion

There are many indicators of good dog food. If you’re too busy to pick what and what not your dog can eat, it’s best to feed your dog high-quality dog food. There are many good quality dog foods for sale, read the labels and ask your vet if you are unsure.

Basically, there are two types of dog food, dry food, and wet food. It’s easier to serve dry food as they have less odor, less likely to spoil, and healthier for your dog’s teeth. As for wet food, many people use them as a treat or when they have to give meds to their dog. Wet food is also great because many of them have complete nutrients and they are good to increase your dog’s water intake because they have higher water moisture than the dry one.

Speaking from experience, it is worth it to keep our dogs healthier by picking the best dog food, because their company is worth more than anything in the world. If you’re still in doubt about what your four-legged best friend should eat, consult to your vet. We know you only want the best for them.

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