My cockapoo, Angel, always had a problem with dog food. He has terrible allergies and cheap, low quality dog food definitely contributed to his ailments. Our vet had us change his food to a higher quality brand and his allergies cleared up almost immediately!
So how could you improve the quality of what you feed your dog? What should you look for in dry or wet dog food? Here are some recommendations for keeping your pet in good health.
A Rule of Thumb
As a general rule of thumb, people who feed their dogs a lower quality food are doing so because of price (they cannot afford a higher quality food) or they just don't know what good nutrition is for their pet. How would I know what type of diet my dog should be on had I not taken him to the vet because of his food allergies?
The first step to consider in choosing a brand of dog food is how much protein and moisture the food contains. A cat, for instance, requires a high moisture food because, unlike a dog, the cat won't drink as much water and thus does not supplement water as dogs do.
Reduce Non-Contributing Ingredients
Look for a dog food that doesn't contain a lot of starch (known also as grains or carbohydrates.) Soy, wheat, rice, and corn are also found in most commercial pet foods but biologically your dog has no need for them. Reducing ingredients not contributing to nourishing your dog, added to a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is important.
If you have a puppy, nutritional balance is extremely important because deficiencies can develop within six months (a poorly nourished pup can develop organ and skeletal degeneration rather quickly)! An older dog can also develop life threatening problems over a period of several years of poor eating habits.
Beth Taylor and Karen Shaw Becker's "Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats: Simple Homemade Food" states a raw, homemade diet is the best food for your dog or cat, as it is made fresh and is nutritionally balanced because you are following recipes. Raw is unadulterated and filled with enzymes and nutrients that are not destroyed by processing and cooking.
Ask Your Veterinarian
If you're not comfortable making your own pet food, then a good commercial brand is the way to go. I've tried feeding my dog homemade food for awhile but his allergies were too severe to continue. If your dog has bad food allergies, its best to visit your vet to determine what the next step is instead of second guessing on your own. We have to consider the comfort of our pets because they depend upon us for help. Your vet will probably recommend brands such as the Purina veterinary types of food, Science Diet, Royal Canin, or Waltham (in both dry and wet varieties.) Our dog likes the Royal Canin Duck and Potato and the price is worth it for not seeing him scratch like he did when eating a cheaper brand of dog food.
List of Some Good Brands
A healthy dog food should contain meat (or at least real meat meal) as its source of protein. No chemicals should be used in preservation. Here's a list meeting that criteria in no particular order:
Innova - Containing no chemicals or preservatives, grain free or with whole grains, Innova's first three ingredients are turkey, chicken, and chicken meal. This food is protein packed additionally with eggs and rice.
Karma Organic - The Dog Food Project reports this food as being 95% organic! Ingredients include free range chicken (no poultry by-products and protein supplied by organic brown rice. Vitamins E and C are used as preservatives. And as they say, "Natures recipe is easy to digest!"
Royal Canin - Each of Royal Canin's feline and canine diets are made of over 50 nutrients in precise balance to deliver nutrition for cats and dogs of different sizes, breeds, and ages as well as pets with specific needs. Some by-products (hearts and liver) are used. Kibble is made to accommodate the breed, for instance, Labrador Retrievers are known for eating fast without chewing. A donut-shaped kibble was designed to encourage chewing and slow down ingestion speed. The Persian cat uses the lower side of their tongue to pick up kibble. Kibble was created in an almond-shape making it easier for them to eat.
California Natural - This brand of food's Adult Lamb & Rice formula has a simple ingredient list and is a good food for dogs with allergies. The only meat source is lamb meal with protein added by combining brown and white rice. This brand of dog food also doesn't include any chemical preservatives.
Newman's Own Organics - This brand, according to their website, is 95% organic. The claim makes this food worthy of consideration. It's first two proteins listed are chicken and chicken meal. Chicken liver is also on the ingredient list, along with Vitamins C and E which are used as preservatives instead of chemicals.
Timberwolf's first three ingredients listed as protein sources in their Southwest Chicken & Herbs formula is chicken meal, chicken, and turkey meal. This formula also contains brown rice, whitefish meal, and dried chicken liver. Preservatives are made from mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E.
Wellness Lamb Super 5 Mix - The number one ingredient is, yes, lamb! Lamb is the number one ingredient and protein source in this dog food. Next ingredient in line is Menhaden fish meal. Salmon meal weighs in at number nine. This formula contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, or dyes.
Fromm Adult Gold - The first four ingredients in this formula is duck, chicken meal, chicken, and brown rice and they serve as the protein source. Also included is whole egg. Mixed tocopherals and citric acid is used to preserve this product.
Read the Labels
Many dog food brands flood the market. Just as you check labels when shopping for human food, you must follow the same procedure when shopping for dog or any pet food. More meat, more protein, less grains and carbs, and less or no by-products. Check the labels!
More helpful information can be found at Dog Food Advisor.
By Tom Matteo