If dogs are our best friends, shouldn’t they also have the best eats? When it comes to feeding your dog, a lot of it depends on your preferences and meeting your pup’s nutritional needs. There are a number of factors to consider when making your selection, but we’ve outlined some of the most important ones for you.
The most important factor when choosing dog food is to find one that meets your dog’s nutritional needs. A majority of commercial dog brands are formulated with at least the minimum nutritional requirements for a dog, but not every dog has the same nutritional needs. Large breeds and small breeds, for example, need different nutrients. Figuring out what your dog’s specific needs are will require research, and speaking with a veterinarian is your best resource. The other factors in this list also play a role in determining what nutritional requirements your dog has.
Your dog will have different nutritional needs in their various stages of life. All dogs require proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in their diet, but the amounts will change over time. From the puppy to the senior stage, you’ll want to update your dog’s food as they mature. Check out these tips for choosing food at these different life stages:
- Puppy food: Puppies require about twice as much crude protein and fat compared to adult dogs. Large breed puppies need lower calcium and phosphorus diets to support good bone development because large breeds mature at a slower rate.
- Young adult food: Adult dogs require 10% protein and up to 50% carbohydrates (including 2-4.5% fiber) in their diet.
- Senior dog food: Senior dogs have lower activity levels and slower metabolism, so they require around 20% less total calories than before. Work with a veterinarian to determine the right amount of calories for your senior dog.
Food allergies are a common source of itchy skin in dogs. Dogs are most commonly allergic to a protein source in their food, but grains and other ingredients could potentially be the source. Work with your bet to identify whether your dog has specific food allergies and purchase special food that does not include those ingredients to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Whether you have a small dog breed or large dog breed also determines what kind of food your dog should eat. Small and large dog breeds age at different rates (a large dog is considered senior much sooner than a small dog), and they have different health concerns. These differences should be taken into consideration when selecting the best food for your dog.
- Small dogs: Smaller dog breeds have higher metabolic rates, which means they need higher-calorie foods. They also can be more prone to gastrointestinal upsets and poor dental health, so small dogs could require a diet that helps them manage these issues.
- Large dogs: Bigger dog breeds need food that supports strong, healthy bones. Look for formulas that include optimal levels of calcium for controlled bone development. Big dogs also tend to be prone to joint issues, so consider selecting dog food created to help keep joints healthy and mobile.
When it comes to choosing the type of food to feed your dog, it often depends on personal preference. There is a wide range of options available, which means it is important for you to talk with your veterinarian about what would be best for your dog’s health. A quick look at your options:
- Dry food: the most common type of food, usually less expensive than wet food, generally contains all necessary nutrients.
- Wet food: good for dogs who have trouble maintaining adequate hydration or are picky eaters, also typically contains fewer preservatives than dry food.
- Veterinary diets: these diets, which can be long or short term and consist of wet or dry food, are available with a prescription from a veterinarian to address specific health needs.
- Over-the-counter science diets: similar to veterinary diets, these aim to address specific health needs; however, this food is available without a prescription and is best for dogs with mild to moderate health issues.
- Raw food: generally consists of raw meat or protein base and tends to also include a carbohydrate.
- Human-grade food: made with human edible ingredients.
- Dehydrated/air-dried food: has the moisture removed but still preserves important nutrients and enzymes.
Making the Selection
With all of the factors to consider when selecting the proper dog food to meet your pup’s needs, it might be best to speak with a veterinarian. They can guide you in the right direction because they understand what nutritional requirements your specific dog has.
We invite you to contact Academy Animal Hospital with any questions you might have about your dog’s diet. Our aim is to help every pet come out healthier and happier after visiting us. All of our highly trained staff members treat every pet who comes through our doors like their own.