Over the years, the pet food industry has witnessed continued growth as more pet owners tend to treat their furry companions as a family member. As a result, pet food companies are doing their best in producing dog food in a vast array of choices.
Although the Food Standards Agency (FSA) exists to ensure the safety of all ingredients used, the question of which is the healthiest dog food still remains. What is the most healthy dog food? What is the best dog food recommended by vets? Opinions vary even amongst vet experts. Products on store shelves may contain nutritious ingredients but there is more to it than just what it says on the label.
Your dog’s nutritional requirement
The best dog food you can ever choose is one that should meet your dog’s nutritional needs. Whilst many claim as the best dog food on the market, there are many considerations in defining a good diet.
Consider the activity level of your pooch. There are products specifically manufactured for both active and low-energy ones. More than that, nutritious feeding should also consider the dog’s breed, size, weight, and age.
Some canines that have just recovered from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and others may have different nutritional requirements. If this is the case, it is best to consult your vet.
In general, dogs will need the following nutrients to keep him happy and healthy:
- Amino acids
- Fatty acids
It is safe to establish that the nutritional needs of dogs vary. Although it differs, the basic characteristics of adequate pet food should be kept in mind:
- Balanced in well-proportioned amounts of the above-mentioned nutrients.
- Complete content of the required nutrients.
- Digestible enough to allow your pooch to easily absorb the nutrients.
- Palatable and appealing for your pooch to eat.
- Safe and free of the toxic ingredients for pets.
Meat generally makes up most of a canine’s diet. However, there is a variety of animal derivatives in pet food.
The ideal meat
A meat-based source of protein is believed to be what defines a higher quality diet. Meat content can come from beef, fish, chicken, poultry, or lamb but do not get one with unidentified ‘meat.’ Unnamed meats often appear on the content list as ‘meat meal and bone meal,’ ‘meat meal,’ or ‘by-product meal.’
As whole meats are expensive, many manufacturers resort to using supplemental formulas that will make up a balanced diet at an affordable price.
The food content should regard meat as the primary source of protein. When it comes to palatability, most canines would easily opt for steak over boiled rice. This means that a high protein diet also contributes to stabilise blood sugar levels. Moreover, it promotes the metabolism of fat which helps in the preservation of lean muscle mass.
With domestic dogs, meat derivatives should be well-supplemented with other vital nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables. They have evolved into omnivore eaters, hence they eat both plants and meat.
On the contrary, though, there is a new trend concerning your pet’s diet—a grain-free dog food. This refers to pet food products that exclude grains such as wheat and soy from their ingredients.
According to Robin Sturtz, DVM, director of Veterinary Technology Program at LIU Post, ‘A grain-free diet is of no benefit to companion animals unless they have a specific allergy.’
Although vegetable sourced content will not do any harm to your pet, there is a significant difference from the meat-based diet. It should not heavily rely on plant-based proteins.
Concerns over carbohydrate content
Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are the three dietary components that serve as a source of energy. In commercial dog food, cereals, legumes, and other plant substances are the primary source of carbohydrate.
Carbohydrate is often included as one of the food contents for economical purposes. Cereals including corn, wheat, and maize are considered ‘cheap fillers’ of protein.
So, what is the best dog food?
We’ve been talking about the right dog food ingredient, but what is the best dog food? Whether it is dry dog food or wet food, the decision is ultimately in your hands. After all, you are your dog’s constant companion. Observe if there are problems with his stool, activity level, and appetite. If there is none, this could mean that your dog food is probably fine.
If you have any other concerns regarding pet nutrition, it is best to talk to your vet for advice.