In this article, we will try to help you with the purchase of the ideal dog food by writing out 4 criteria, having studied and guided by which, you can make the right choice. By taking these steps, you will achieve the best result!
Determine the class of feed
To paraphrase the words of the German philosopher, let’s say: “The dog is what it eats.” And this is true, because the health and appearance of a pet is reflected in its nutrition. And if you care about your four-legged friend, then you know that choosing the right food specifically for your case is a rather difficult task. In general, food for dogs is divided into the following classes in terms of quality composition:
This type of feed is produced using the cheapest ingredients, which explains its low cost. It is made from meat and bone meal, by-products of the lowest category with the addition of grain and soy.
It is undesirable to feed your dog with food of this class for a long time, since an excess of preservatives and food additives, as well as a lack of vitamins and amino acids, have an adverse effect on the growth, health and appearance of your pet, as well as his behavior. And also, given its composition, this class of feed has a rather low level of nutritional value and digestibility, therefore, the amount consumed will be higher than that of other options. The energy value of the food for economy class dogs is about 250-300 kcal / 100 g.
Higher quality ingredients are used to produce middle class feed. The main source of protein here is its meat component. However, most of these feeds contain various additives, flavorings and increased salt concentration. It should be noted that dry food of the middle class has a higher level of digestibility than that of the economy class, and the energy value is about 300-350 kcal / 100 g.
The increased protein content is an advantage of premium dry food over previous options. Dry food in this category does not contain bone meal, soy, GMO. Companies specializing in this class of food often use higher quality ingredients, offal. The meat component is 25-30%. Grain is an additional component.
Super premium class
A really well-balanced composition is characteristic of the super-premium dog food of the highest quality. This is a high-quality dog food made from natural meat (eg beef, chicken, etc.) with a minimum grain content.
Super premium dog food has a high level of digestibility (over 80%), its energy value is over 450 kcal / 100 g, which contributes to economical consumption. Food in this class is rich in vitamins and does not contain food additives, flavors or stabilizers.
Holistic food is the most natural and high-quality dry pet food. It contains exclusively high-quality ingredients that are beneficial even for humans – up to 90% natural meat / fish components and other natural herbal supplements (rice, legumes, vegetables, fruits, berries) and probiotics that improve the digestion process.
Holistic food is rich in vitamins and does not contain GMOs, food additives or colors. Its manufacturers provide a detailed list of ingredients. Due to its rich composition, this type of food is complete, providing the four-legged pet with all the necessary useful microelements.
In general, dog food should contain six types of nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. With a balanced diet of quality food, your pet will stay healthy and active.
We take into account the age of the dog
But keep in mind that your dog will need certain vitamins and nutrients at every stage of life. For example, growing puppies need protein in their diets to promote healthy tissue and muscle development. Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are also critical to bone and dental health, while antioxidants, vitamins C and E help support immunity and overall well-being. Also, puppies use a lot of energy, significantly more than adult dogs, so they need easily digestible carbohydrates. All nutrients must be properly balanced, as both lack and excess can cause problems.
It is important to know that puppies who are weaned early should be given milk replacer. And only after reaching the age of two weeks, you can add to a specialized feed.
Puppy food manufacturers take into account all the needs of the growing organism, as well as the differences for small and large breeds. For example, smaller dogs may need smaller pieces to make chewing easier. It is also necessary to ensure that they do not overeat, so food for small breeds is slightly less nutritious.
On the other hand, large breed puppies can grow too quickly, which can put undue stress on immature bones and joints. The food specially designed for these puppies regulates the calcium / phosphorus, calories and protein ratio for proper growth, allowing joints to develop and stabilize without unnecessary stress.
At the age of one, your pet should switch to adult dog foods. They are active, need complete, properly balanced food, which should contain proteins, animal and vegetable fats, carbohydrates and minerals.
Active growing dogs need more calories, while older dogs (6-8 years old) will benefit from nutrition designed to support their aging joints. Arthritis is a common problem in older dogs, especially large breeds, so a diet rich in omega-3s and fatty acids can help reduce inflammation. Added glucosamine and chrondroitin may help support joint health and general mobility.
Older dogs are less active, so diets with fewer calories and less fat will help prevent obesity, while high quality protein is essential for maintaining muscle tissue. You should also avoid foods high in salt because older dogs are more prone to heart disease and may have kidney problems.
We take into account the size of the dog
Small and large dogs have different nutritional needs. Also, relative to the size of the pet, the fraction of granules is selected: small croquettes for small breeds and large ones for large ones.
For large breeds
Physiologically, dogs of large and giant breeds are quite different from the rest. They are more prone to problems with the musculoskeletal system, therefore they need food with a higher content of nutrients that support the musculoskeletal system. In addition, large dogs are prone to obesity. To avoid problems, they need to be fed in small portions. Attention should be paid to the content of calcium and phosphorus, zinc and manganese, as well as other minerals in the feed. It is important to remember that large dogs have a higher load on their locomotor system, so their food should contain chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine.
For medium breeds
Terrier, poodle and others are medium-sized breeds. These dogs are very active and fast, and also the healthiest. There are no special requirements for food for medium sized dogs. The only thing is that the percentage of fat in the feed should not exceed 18%, since the body of these dogs copes with its excess rather poorly. Complete food for medium-sized dogs should contain proteins (chicken eggs, etc.), which are composed of essential amino acids. The absence of at least one of them negatively affects the health of the quadruped.
For small breeds
Compared to large dogs, small ones (chihuahuas, miniature dachshunds, etc.) have tachytrophism (rather fast metabolism). Therefore, to obtain additional energy in their diet should include more protein, fat and easily digestible carbohydrates. Small breed dog food should be free of any non-nutritive fibers (corn, soy) as they simply add food and are useless. And since the stomach of small dogs is small, the food must be balanced, with the correct level of energy value, since if this indicator is lacking, the pet will be less active, and if overweight it will easily gain weight.
For all breeds
There is also a universal feed for all breeds. As a rule, it is balanced and contains all the vitamins and minerals necessary for dogs. Can be divided by class, as well as by age of dogs.
We take into account the health problems of the pet
Dogs are omnivorous, which means they can eat both meat and plant foods. However, grains are not a natural part of a dog’s diet. Grain-free food usually contains more protein than its grain-based counterparts. The main source of protein in them is meat, and legumes and potatoes act as additives.
In fact, grains commonly cause allergic reactions in dogs. Potential problem ingredients also range from beef, lamb and pork to starchy carbs like wheat and barley. Allergy symptoms in dogs can range from itching, flaky skin and a runny nose to sneezing, nausea, and diarrhea. For food allergies, you should choose hypoallergenic foods that reduce the manifestation of the disease.
Many hypoallergenic foods are made using proteins that have been chemically “broken down” (hydrolyzed) into amino acids, making the original allergen virtually invisible to your pet’s immune system. These foods contain digestible proteins such as turkey and chicken, boiled vegetables and a minimum of artificial additives.
Dogs with health problems such as obesity need a specialized medicated feed. Veterinarians recommend feeding your overweight dog food that contains above average protein, below average fat and calories, and more fiber to help your pet feel full longer, and weigh or measure portions carefully.
Food for digestion
Food intolerances are inherent in many dogs, and a specialized digestive food must be selected to overcome these problems. As a rule, it consists of ingredients that are rich in fiber, contain pre- and probiotics, digestive enzymes such as glucosamines and glutamines, phytonutrients, etc. All these components contribute to proper digestion.
For pregnant and nursing
It should be said about the nutrition of dogs during pregnancy and lactation, which will differ from the usual in that it should be high in calories, contain fatty acids (fish oil) and other essential trace elements. We recommend using at this stage a special high-quality and properly balanced food for pregnant and lactating dogs.
There are also other highly targeted foods designed to address a variety of dog health problems such as dental problems such as teeth and mouth, skin and hair, joints, and other medicated foods. Each contains its own essential vitamins and minerals and is balanced to address specific health problems for your pet.
And finally …
Yes, choosing the right, best food for your four-legged friend is not an easy task. As you have already learned, for this it is necessary to assess his age, lifestyle and health. After all, by choosing the right food, you literally save your dog’s life! Perhaps, as a guide, a list of the most popular brands that have earned recognition and trust among buyers will help you: Acana, Brit, Bosch, Royal Canin 1st Choice. Your dog deserves quality, nutritious and healthy food.