Do you keep wondering if you are feeding your dog the right kind of food? Dogs are natural carnivores and like for humans, the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ applies to dogs too. So whether they are on dry, moist, canned, raw or home-cooked food, ensuring that they have a well-balanced diet is important. Understand that while highly processed foods might not be good for humans, commercially-packed dog foods are specially formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs.
The ideal combination and proportion of meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables appropriately suited for the dog’s age, breed, activity level, and health condition must be chosen. Good quality dog food must not contain corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, additives, or preservatives. As a dog lover, you might wish to give your dog the best product available, so checking the ingredient list must be a top priority.
In our country, apart from specific state regulations, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) rules that all over-the-counter dog food packets must list the ingredients in descending order of weight.
- If rich protein sources like fish, beef, chicken, or beef meal, bone meal, chicken meal, and egg protein are mentioned at the top of the list, the food can be considered safe. These help in maintaining and building muscles, and in the functions of the musculoskeletal system. It is best to avoid foods with meat by-products.
- Flaxseed, salmon or sunflower oil, fats from chicken or turkey, egg yolk and liver, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are great dog food ingredients. However, it is fish oil, animal fat and digest, poultry fat, lard, vegetable and mineral oil that must be avoided. Fats, oils, vitamins A, B and E are very important for healthy skin and coat, proper cell function and brain development, and for maintaining a strong immune system in dogs.
- Grains and vegetables such as rice, barley, potatoes, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes are good sources of essential carbohydrates that provide energy to your dogs and help in digestion, but these must not be the main ingredient at the top of the list.
- Fiber is important for all dogs, especially older ones. So the inclusion of (not highly processed) oats, fruit, and vegetables in the list of ingredients in your dog food is permissible, but they are bound to be much less in proportion than preferred.
- While flavoring agents like beef stock or chicken stock are permitted, digestive enzymes, probiotics, chelated minerals, amino acids, and vitamin C are favourable additions to commercial dog food.
- Yeast culture, sulfate, oxide-based mineral supplements, preservatives such as BHA and BHT, phosphoric acid, corn syrup, fructose, sugar, salt, gluten, soy and other kinds of preservatives and artificial food coloring are unsafe for dogs and must be avoided at all costs.
Apart from all the food you feed your dog, it is absolutely essential they have access to clean drinking water at all times.