There is no question that we all want to believe that the food we are feeding our furry friends provides them with all the essential nutrients necessary for a long, healthy life. With so many options out there, how do we really know what is the most nutritious food for your pet? While there is no one food that can claim to be the “best” food out there, there are some things that we can do to ensure that we are informed about the food we do choose to feed our companion pets.
All of our dogs have unique dietary needs and to ensure that these needs are being met, you will want to ensure that the food you are serving them includes all of the following: a diverse selection of high-quality proteins; healthy species-specific animal fat; a guaranteed amount of the antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E; a guaranteed amount of omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3’s should be scientifically balanced with omega-6 fatty acids to ensure optimal benefit); prebiotics; a guaranteed amount of probiotics; an array of vegetables; and fruits. Additionally, to minimize health risks, the food should not contain any wheat or wheat gluten or corn or corn gluten-based.
Why are all of these ingredients important for your dog’s nutrition?
Diverse Selection of High-Quality Proteins: All proteins are not created equal, therefore all dog foods should contain at least three different protein sources to ensure a wide array of amino acids, which are the body’s “building blocks.”
Healthy Species-Specific Animal Fat: While vegetable oil may sound healthier to us humans, dogs need nutrients only found in animal fats. Make sure the listed animal fat source is species-specific like "chicken fat", and not generic like "animal fat”.
Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C and E): Antioxidants are essential to promoting and maintaining good health. Vitamins A, C and E are some of the most effective antioxidants and evidence supports the food we feed our dogs should include a guaranteed amount to ensure the adequate antioxidant intake necessary for wellness.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s are some of the most extensively researched, naturally occurring, nutritional ingredients in the world. Dog foods should feature a guaranteed amount Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are scientifically balanced with Omega-6 fatty acids for optimal benefit. A perfect balance will support healthy skin, shiny coats and help maintain overall health.
Prebiotics: Non-digestible ingredients that promote the growth of "healthy" and "friendly" bacteria in the digestive system. Similar to vitamins and minerals, prebiotics occur naturally in foods.
Probiotics: Often referred to as "friendly bacteria" or "healthy microorganisms", probiotics support a healthy immune system and digestive system. For this reason your dog's food should feature guaranteed amounts of probiotics.
Vegetables: Dog food should contain a variety of vegetables such as carrots, beets, celery, parsley, spinach, watercress and broccoli because they each have a unique, health promoting properties. The skin and flesh of each contain vital nutrients, including phytonutrients, essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Fruits: Fruits such as blueberries and pomegranate should be part of your dog's food. Similar to vegetables, the skin and flesh of each contain a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
What your dog food should NOT contain is grains like corn, wheat or gluten. These are used as inexpensive and inferior sources of protein and are highly susceptible to toxic mold contamination, leading to significant health risks.
What I hope you take away from this is the importance of reading the nutritional labels on the food you give to your fur-kid. A nutritional food will not have any unidentifiable meat ingredients or generic animal fats, and will contain significant amounts of meat-based protein. It will be free of artificial colors, fillers, and artificial preservatives. Furthermore, it will provide a guaranteed amount of essential nutrients that help to promote a healthy immune system, a healthy digestive system, and a healthy skin and coat.
Since your dog eats the same food every day, the brand you choose to feed is the most important decision you can make as a pet parent. The food you feed is your pet’s primary source of nutrition, so ensuring that you choose a superior dog food can help to promote a solid nutritional foundation, which can help to foster a long and healthy life.