Choosing the best dog food will help your pet live a happy and healthy life.
One of the most important things you can do as a dog owner is to feed your dog a well balanced and nutritious diet. A proper diet can add precious time to the life of your beloved pet. Not only does it help them live longer, but it also helps your dog maintain good oral hygiene and increase immune system strength. A healthy diet will make your dog’s coat shiny and full, maximize energy levels, allow for good rest and help keep their digestive system on track. With so many options available, Blain’s Farm & Fleet is here to help you understand the differences between different dog foods and help you pick the best dog food for your dog.
Life stages are important because you want your dog to get the proper balance of fats, protein and fiber for each phase of their life. Whether you just brought home a new puppy or you rescued a six-year-old pooch from the humane society, you will want to buy the right life stage dog food. *life stage age might vary for different breeds and activity levels
- Puppy Food: (Under 1 year*) Has proper protein to fat ratios to keep your puppy growing at a steady rate and not too fast or slow for good bone and joint development.
- Adult: (1-6 years*) Has the proper protein to fat ratios to sustain average activity levels without excessive weight gain.
- Performance/Active: Has added protein, fat and antioxidants for very active working and sport dogs. It helps maintain proper weight and overall body conditioning.
- Senior: (6+ years*) Has lowered protein and fat. Increased fiber levels maintain proper weight for lower activity levels. Added glucosamine for joint health.
- Weight Management: (over vet recommended weight) Has lower protein and fat levels with higher fiber to help reduce weight while still allowing the dog to feel full.
Dog Food Ingredients
When you compare dog food, ingredients can be confusing and overwhelming. Ingredients are listed by weight. A good rule of thumb is to make sure two meat sources are listed in the top five ingredients. Meat sources include lamb, beef, chicken, turkey and salmon. To ensure absolute quality, one of the top two ingredients should be meat. Then look for grains such as barley or rice. Grains provide an excellent source of carbohydrates. Dogs can easily metabolize these carbs and use them as energy.
There is also the option of grain free dog food. Some argue that grains can cause inflammation in dogs, leading to heart disease and cancer. Grain free dog food is considered to be closer to a dog’s natural diet. Typically, a grain free diet is used for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies. Some veterinarians argue that whole grains are beneficial for your dog, because they’re packed with minerals, fiber and protein. The downfall is that grain free dog food is generally more expensive than dog food containing grains. You can find grain free dog food in both dry and canned forms. If the food is grain free, look for meat first and then sweet potatoes.
Both types of dog food have benefits, but in most cases dry food is better. The best dry dog food promotes good dental hygiene from chewing action and usually has a lower fat content. It is also easy to store and measure, encourages firm stools and is typically lower in cost. Canned wet foods are useful for dogs that need more moisture or fat in their diets. They are usually higher in protein and have a long shelf life when unopened. Be careful though. Because of the higher protein and fat content, some dogs can gain weight quickly when on a diet of canned food.
Switching Dog Foods
If you are switching to a different life stage dog food or a different brand all together, you will need to gradually make the switch. Start by mixing with half of the old dog food and half of the new dog food in their feeder or bowl. After a few days, reduce old food in your mixture until the food is gone. The whole process should take about a week. An upset tummy or a few loose stools can be normal for most dogs. If stomach irritation persists, seek advice from your veterinarian.
All brands of dog food will have a chart for feeding based on a dog’s proper weight. If your dog is underweight, you can help them gain weight by following the normal feeding guidelines for their proper weight. If they are overweight, you can help them lose weight by feeding them the portion suggested for their proper weight.
Each member of your family has different needs, and your dog does, too. It is always a good idea to discuss dietary plans, proper weight guidelines and recommendations for your specific breed of dog with your local veterinarian. A dog’s unconditional love can warm anyone’s heart, and we want to help you provide the proper care for a long, happy and healthy life.
From the farm to your home, Blain’s Farm & Fleet is here to help you raise happy and healthy pets. For more tips on caring for your four-legged family members check out our Pet Care blog.