Picking the right dog food for your pooch can be a tough decision.  Do you get overwhelmed in the dog food aisle?? Grain free, organic, high protein, low fat, sensitive stomach, sensitive skin, over 7, dry, wet, etc…..the list goes on and on.  With such a difference in cost and variety, we can see why you have so many questions about dog food choices. Here we will explain the basics for making your choices on what to feed.

Pet Food Quality Control

First of all, dogs are omnivorous.  Reach back to your biology days and remember that this means they eat meat and plants.  A good commercial dog food should handle both of these needs along with necessary minerals and vitamins.  One of the easiest ways to see if a dog food is good is to check for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO.) AAFCO is an association that tests pet foods for quality.  Pet food makers VOLUNTEER their foods for testing to receive approval.  No pet food is required to have their food tested. So when looking at a bag or can of food, look for an AAFCO statement that says that the food is “complete and balanced.”  This means that the food is good for all stages of the dog’s life as well as provides the right proportions of nutrients.

Dry VS Canned Food

Now let’s talk about the dry versus canned food dilemma.  Both are appropriate for providing nutrition but is there ever a situation when your veterinarian will recommend one over the other??? The answer is yes.  The vets at Animal Medical Center agree that dry food is better for the teeth and for weight control. When a dog chews the dry food (if they chew it!) it does help to knock off tartar and keep the teeth clean.   Also, we see more weight control issues with pets on can food only. So as a general rule, our veterinarians will recommend dry food as the base of the dog’s diet. Now canned food can be given too. It can be added to the dry food as a treat.  Canned food does have a lot of water in it so if a dog needs help with hydration, canned food may be best. Also, canned food is good for dogs who are having mouth pain where it is tough to chew the dry. If you are not sure which to use, ask our vets at Animal Medical Center.

Grain Free? Low Cal? Sensitive Stomach?

Now what about diets that are specific to certain needs-high protein, low calorie, grain free???  Although every AAFCO approved food provides the needs of every stage of life, sometimes certain dogs need a boost in certain areas.  Your veterinarian may recommend certain diets to help your dog achieve the best health. For instance, grain free might be best if your dog has have some types of gastrointestinal problems.  Low calorie is great for dog’s who need to lose weight. Sensitive skin diets sometimes help with skin allergy. For more information, again ask our vets for help on what to choose.

Commercial VS Homemade Diets

Finally, let’s discuss commercial versus homemade diets.  As long as your pet gets the nutritional requirements, homemade diets are acceptable.  Some dogs simply won’t eat commercial diets and prefer “chef” made meals!  You, however, must be careful to provide all that your dogs needs.  Simply cooking some chicken and carrots will not be enough. Dogs need vitamins and minerals that should to be added. There are recipes available and websites that formulate homemade diets.  Ask us and we can help.

Raw Diets

Concerning the push for raw diets in pets, we at Animal Medical Center discourage this kind of diet.  Yes, in the wild, animals eat raw food. However, our pets are domesticated and are susceptible to E. coli and other bacteria just like us.  So, if you are going to feed a lean meat or egg, please be sure to cook it.

We hope this helps clear up some of the confusion on picking out dog diets.  Feel free  set up an appointment  or walk in for more help.  Scroll down to make an appointment online or call 806-794-4118.