Dogs need proper nutrition to keep fit and healthy. However, since what might be good for one dog could be inappropriate for another, it can be hard to determine which diet is best for your dog. Below are some key considerations to help you decide what is best to feed your canine.
Identify your dog’s physical characteristics and overall health
A dog’s nutritional requirements depend on several factors including age, size, sex, activity, and his or her state of health. A puppy that enters a new home, for instance, should not be introduced to drastic dietary changes as this might cause stomach upsets. The puppy should be fed what he or she has been getting from breeders as a new diet is introduced in small progressive portions.
Also, different dog breeds have a huge disparity between their dietary requirements. For example, German Shepherds need as high as 7 times the amount of calories (averagely 1740 to 2100) needed by Chihuahuas a day (averagely 325). On the other hand, seniors require fewer calories compared to puppies and lactating mothers.
Knowing your dog physical characteristics helps you find the right nutrition and portions that will nourish those qualities and help him or her stay healthy.
Read and analyze the dog’s food label
The fundamental components of a dog’s nutrition include:
- Proteins: These are responsible for cell growth, maintenance, and repair
- Fats: They serve as a concentrated energy source
- Carbohydrates: Also serve as an energy source
- Vitamins: Responsible for boosting body immunity and other body processes required for normal body functioning
- Minerals: They are responsible for various body functions for instance growth and formation of strong bones
The combination of the above nutrients depends on a dog’s age, medical condition, and other physical characteristics. Knowing how to read and analyze food labels helps you know the nutrients in the food hence determine the best dog food. This is important if you would wish to feed your dog specific sources of nutrients or if the dog has allergies or special dietary needs.
An easy way to understand a dog’s food label is by following the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines. According to AAFCO, a named ingredient, for instance ‘Beef for Dogs’ should constitute at least 95% of the product. When an ingredient is at least 25% of the product, a qualifying term like ‘dinner’ or ‘platter’ is used in the product’s name, for instance, ‘ Chicken Dinner for Dogs’. Foods with the term ‘with’ for instance ‘Dog Dinner with Beef’ must contain at least 3% of the named ingredient. As a caution, avoid foods with generic reference, for example ‘meat meal’ as the food could contain anything that provides protein.
Consult your vet
Check with your veterinarian for an in-depth understanding of how different foods or nutrients impact your dog’s health and wellbeing. Vets can provide proper feeding guidelines for dogs. They understand animal nutrition and can narrow down on options guided by research and resources that you do not have. Additionally, they will be eager to help with your questions on dog’s food.