How to choose a good dog food?

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Today we have many options in the dog food market. So how do you choose healthy and good food for your puppy? Here are four things to keep in mind.

  1. Choose the highest quality ingredients. Dr. Gary Richter, Founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition, says, “Optimal nutrition comes from eating a balanced, fresh, whole food diet. In order to create this type of diet for your dog, Dr. Richter recommends “following a balanced recipe or buying a commercially prepared fresh diet – cooked, raw, or freeze-dried is fine.”
  2. Consider your dog’s activity level and weight. Richter advises, “There aren’t really any different breed-specific nutrient profiles; although activity plays a role. More active dogs will need more food/calories than less active dogs. So, if you have a more athletic dog, he will need more calories, but if he is slowing down due to medical issues or age, you may need to reduce his calorie intake.

Studies prove that dogs kept in healthy body condition live up to 2.5 years longer than overweight dogs. For overweight dogs, therapeutic weight loss diets contain less than 260 calories per cup compared to maintenance diets which range from 325 to 500 calories per cup.

  1. Narrow down your options based on your dog’s age. The dog food is formulated for your dog’s life stage. Puppies, for example, need a higher percentage of protein to make up their diet. They should not eat food formulated for adult dogs. Senior dogs, on the other hand, may be more prone to medical conditions that affect dietary needs and their reduced activity level also means they will need fewer calories in their food. VCA Animal Hospitals recommends reducing the calorie intake of senior dogs by 20-30%. Ask your veterinarian for further recommendations. They may also recommend additional vitamins and supplements for seniors to maintain good health.
  2. Discuss your dog’s medical needs with your veterinarian. Proper nutrition can actually improve your dog’s condition in many cases. Dr. Richter states, “Almost any chronic disease in dogs (organ disease, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, etc.) can all be improved/supported with a fresh diet formulated for that specific condition.”

For example, when it comes to dental issues such as gingivitis, Dr. Richter again recommends fresh, whole foods. It can also help with allergies, as “fresh diets will have fewer carbs than kibble,” he says. Dogs with diabetes benefit from a diet low in fat and high in insoluble fiber. Dogs with skin conditions may need more omega-3 fatty acids, and studies from the nonprofit Ketopet, which studies dog nutrition and cancer, suggest that dogs with certain forms of cancer can benefit from a ketogenic diet.

Your dog’s ideal diet may change over time. Dog breed can affect these factors, but that doesn’t mean all dogs of a certain breed should have the same diet. Watch for food sensitivities or allergies. If your dog reacts poorly to certain foods or seems to have chronic gastrointestinal issues, you may need to try an elimination diet with the help of your veterinarian to find out which foods are causing your pet distress.

Your dog is a person with special dietary needs and you may not be able to get all the answers you are looking for in one article. The best thing to do is to consult a certified nutritionist, your veterinarian, or a pet care specialist who knows your dog specifically. You can choose to buy prepared food for your dog or prepare it yourself, but always follow a nutritionist-approved recipe and be sure to choose foods that are safe for dogs.

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