Adopting a new dog as an incredibly exciting experience whether you’ve just purchased a new puppy from breeder or you adopted from your local shelter. As exciting as it is your bound to have lots of questions about properly taking care of your dog.
One of the most common questions that I am asked of new pet parents is “What should I feed my new pet?” It can be confusing navigating the waters and everyone seems to have a bias when it comes to dog food. Many shelters and vet clinics receive kickbacks from dog food companies, so how do you know you are feeding the right product.
First understand everyone you ask will have a different opinion on the right dog food, but what is important is that you take a few minutes to research what the right food for YOUR dog is.
Choosing a dog food is a personal decision and a lot of people feel very strongly about their pets nutrition, for good reason. Some people swear by raw diets only and other swear by a good quality kibble.
I am going to give you some guidelines that will help guide you on your journey of finding a great dog food that should be easy to follow.
Choose a dog food that has meat as a first ingredient.
While there is some debate on whether a grain free diets is best for all dogs it is defiantly agreed on that meat should be the first ingredient in any quality dog food. Look at the list of ingredients not just the front of the bag. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed by weight. Ingredients that contain large amounts of moisture (such as beef, poultry, chicken, or fish) are likely to be at the top of the list because of the moisture content. Ingredients further down the list may offer even more key nutrients such as protein but may weigh less because the water has already been removed for a dry pet food. When reading the ingredients also remember that ingredients labeled “by-products” include highly digestible and nutritious organs, such as the liver and lungs. They do NOT include things like hair, horns or hooves, as advertising gimmicks would have you believe
Consider special special needs.
A giant breed puppy will need a dog food that has the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio. Giant breeds need slightly less calcium. Too much calcium can also increase the incidence of any one of those very painful developmental bone diseases. The challenge is to provide just enough calcium to reduce the risk of bone problems while supplying levels that allow for maximum growth potential. As long as you are feeding a balanced diet, never supplement a large and giant breed puppy with a mineral supplement. Look for a 1:1 ratio.
An overweight dog may need a low-calorie dog food, Consider changing your dog’s food for a veterinary diet designed to tackle obesity; these foods contain more bulk and less calories, so that you can tackle your dog’s weight without having to dramatically reduce the size of their meals.
Feeding active Sporting Dog may need a high protein and high fat blend. Fat is the active dog’s primary source of energy. This should combine with highly digestible ingredients to provide the right nutrition for highly active dogs and to promote weight gain during convalescence.
What about Raw diets?
Raw diets are great they may require more prep time and it is very important that you balance the raw food that you feed. There are two primary types of raw diets BARF and PREY.
The prey model raw diet mimics the prey killed by wolves in the wild where a wolf would eat the entire animal, meat, bones, organs and all. The prey model does not consider dogs to be omnivores and believe that they do not need vegetables, fruits, and additional supplements.
The Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diet was developed by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. Billinghurst suggest that dogs would thrive on a diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated. The BARF diet is more balanced and provides your dog meats, bone, fruits, vegetables, and supplements .
Just as important as what you feed your dog you should consider how you feed your dog. If you just purchased a new puppy or dog consider hand feeding through the first three weeks. This not only is a great way to build a bond, but it allows you to practice important skills like obedience, luring or shaping.
Don’t waste meal times by just tossing your kibble in a bowl and food bowl and a enrichment feeder cost about the same. By using a enrichment feeder you will be turning meal time into a opportunity to provide your dog with a mental workout.
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