Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Pick the Right Dog Food

When walking into the pet store these days, the dog food choices can be overwhelming. There are many new foods along with the old names that many of us recognize.  How do you pick the right one? There are several things to consider when choosing a dog food. The dog food you pick should be appropriate for your dog's weight, activity level and any allergies that he or she may have. So what do you look for on a dog food label?
Every dog food label has the same basic information. The guaranteed analysis lists protein, fiber, fat and moisture contents. Usually this will also have vitamin and mineral information. There will be an ingredient panel, which tells you what ingredients were used to make the food. You will also find the Daily Feeding Guidelines, which gives you an idea of how much dog food to feed your dog.
The ingredients should be listed in descending order on the ingredient label. This means that the first ingredient listed should be the protein source. An ingredient panel that lists corn as the first ingredient is one you want to stay away from. Corn ingredients help to shape the kibble and the dog food companies use it to keep their costs down, but some believe it has been causing health problems like obesity, pancreatitis, diabetes and even liver disease in our companion animals. So you want to have a meat protein listed as the first ingredient.
I ran into the overwhelming choices myself recently and even though I have experience in the pet industry and plenty of experience with dog food, I was overloaded with the choices offered. My dog Skye is a three year old American Staffordshire Terrier with seizure issues, and though she has not had any seizures since living with me, her weight has gone up due to the medication she is on. I don't want to feed any of the diet foods, as they tend to use powdered cellulose to add bulk, and to help the dog feel full; so they weren't even considered.
I am happy to say that I found the perfect food for her. I had been doing research on the Internet and had been looking at a food made by CANIDAE. They have a new food on the market called CANIDAE Grain Free ALS Formula. With my nutrition background, I was impressed with the fact that not only was it grain free, it could be fed to any life stage of my dog; I just need to adjust how much to feed her based on her age and weight issues. The first three ingredients on the label are: chicken meal, turkey meal, and lamb; which are three protein sources. This food is 80% meat and 20% fruits and vegetables. There were no added sugars, or commercial preservatives like ethoxyquin, BHA or BHT. I took a sample home and mixed just a bit in with her regular food.
While Skye has always been a good eater, she has never before this been dancing around in the kitchen while I was preparing her food, and recently I had been having issues getting her to eat, as the medication she takes is a liquid and very salty. Even though it is mixed into her food very well, it wasn't enough to hide the taste of her medicine. I am happy to say that is now a thing of the past. While it will take me two weeks to change her over gradually, as the bacteria in her intestinal tract needs to adjust to digesting the new food. In this way we don't have any stomach or intestinal issues, and that makes me happy, though Skye would be perfectly happy to be eating only CANIDAE from now on.

Ruthie Bently

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