All of this research for the right way to feed your pet sent me into a tailspin. Corn is “safe” for pets, but it’s not giving the right nutrients that a dog needs and causes allergies. Grains are good for digestion, but should not be one of the main ingredients in their food. It feels like my research has only just started.
Luckily, from what I’ve found, you don’t need to know everything. There are people out there just waiting for you to walk in and ask them what they need. Veterinarians, pet-loving store owners, dog groomers, they all want to help. But first, let’s start with the basics.
Know your sources. My last post described what most commercial dog food brands use, and how/why it’s usually the cheapest. All dog food packaging have a phone number where you can call and ask up-front where they get their ingredients from and how they are manufactured. There are plenty of websites like this one who review and find the best dog food brands available. Find a brand that doesn’t use “by-product” or “meal” in their protein sources, which leads me to my next point:
Know your labels. The ingredients list is ordered from highest ratio to lowest, meaning that the first ingredient on there is the main ingredient. Look for named ingredients, so “meat” doesn’t count, but “chicken by-product” is worse. You’re looking for “chicken”, “turkey”, etc. Most commercial dog foods will have “corn” or “corn by-product” as the first ingredient, which is not something you want to buy. Avoid artificial anything when possible, and be wary of “enriched” or “added” nutrients, which shouldn’t be needed if the ingredients are unprocessed.
Know your alternatives. Dry dog food is not your only option, especially if your dog is not getting the right nutrients. Raw feeding has become very popular, and there are many brands available for all kinds of dogs. They will usually come in the form of frozen meat patties, which are thawed and served right away, or there are plenty of do-it-yourself recipes which you can make with the ingredients in your kitchen. Supplements are a great way to customize your dog’s food according to what they need, which brings me to my last and most important point:
Know what your veterinarian knows about your pet. If they need specific nutrients in their diet, your vet will know exactly what they need and how they need it. Never be afraid of asking multiple vets for their opinion, and always make sure the vet knows if there are any changes to their diet.
Making sure your pet has the best food available to them is the #1 way to prevent illness and disease, but finding the right food can be overwhelming. I’ll be going further into detail about each point I made in this post, but for now, I think I’ve got a good starting block to find the right dog food for my soon-to-be fur-baby.