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Pet Happenings November 2009

Dog Food 102
by Jessica Turquette of Moab Barkery

The most common question we get about dog food at the Moab BARKery is “What is the best dog food?” The answer is a laundry list of questions. There is no best dog food out there for all dogs, because there are many factors that influence what makes a food the best for your dog.

Most of the advice about dog food available in print and on the internet has been either influenced by the dog food manufacturers themselves or someone of special interest that is not entirely objective. We have found the two best references are the Whole Dog Journal and Neither of these sources have no ties to dog food companies.

Second there is little to no regulation by the USDA or FDA about what can be used in dog food or how they list the ingredients on the package. The only rule that is enforced regularly is that the ingredients have to be listed in order of their weight content in the food. Therefore many brands take advantage of the lack of regulation and use ingredients that are cheap; they also tend to split the ingredients that would normally make up the majority of what is in the bag so it looks like meat is listed first.

A specified meat should always be the first ingredient in dog food, and often it appears that way even in low quality brands. More often than not it’s a trick. These companies get away with it because they split the fillers (corn, wheat, soy, brewers rice, etc.) into smaller components. Even though a food’s first five ingredients could read: Meat meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat grain, corn meal, and chicken fat, which makes it appear that the majority ingredient is meat, but in fact grain is the majority and meat would come second.

It’s also common to list the whole protein like chicken or beef, but whole meat proteins are often up to 70% water. Therefore they are much heavier when added first, but cooked down amount to less than 30% of their original weight. These companies are relying on the average consumer to pay attention to their commercials and not read or understand what is listed on the back of their bags.

So what makes the best food for your dog? Here are some of the main factors you need to consider when comparing dog foods, and what it will mean for your dog:

1. How active is your dog? If they are really active and spend some time each day either running or working, you need a food that is higher in protein and fat, something that is over 24% protein and over 12% in fat. They need the calories from protein and fat to provide energy. Make sure to give them the proper amount of food recommended so they are not shorted fuel. If your dog only gets a short walk daily or is more of a couch potato, you can opt for a food that is a little lower in protein, but most importantly lower in fat. Food that has 21-24% protein is good for less active dogs, and fat should be under 12%. Activity level is the biggest factor in choosing food.

2. How old is your dog? If your dog is reaching senior status (often around 10-12 years in smaller breeds and 7-9 years in larger breeds), they will need less protein and less fat. Often senior food has less fat and protein, but it usually includes glucosamine or some sort of joint support to help the dog maintain more quality of life. Consider senior foods for dogs that are overweight too! Often that joint support can help assist in the exercise they need to slim down. If your dog is a puppy (under 1 year) it is recommended they get foods higher in fat (over 12%). Often high quality foods don’t distinguish between puppy and adult food because they are formulated to be balanced between the two. As dogs get older they often don’t need as much food, so consider giving a little less food if your older dog is starting to pack on the pounds. Same goes for your puppy. Keeping them on a puppy food too long can make them chubby too!

3. What type of coat does your dog have? If they have a long coat like Border Collies, Shih Tzu’s and Golden Retrievers, often foods that have fish in them will provided the essential omega fatty acids that will help keep their coats in good shape. This can also be a good option for dogs that have dry skin (beware though dry skin can mean many things in a dog, and if they are itchy as well as dry see a vet). Fish oils can also be added for a luxurious coat, and to sooth that dry skin but make sure it’s made for dogs, and only give the recommended daily dose. It’s rich in fats.

4. Last but not least, does your dog have any food allergies? Often hot spots, chronic itching, and dry skin can be caused by a food allergy. You will need to confirm this with your vet, and it’s important you do, as seasonal allergies can affect dogs too. Many foods use an isolated meat protein so that those sensitive to chicken, beef or turkey can eat food without those proteins. Most food allergies are grain based (corn, wheat, soy, etc.) and feeding a food without those products can change the overall health of a dog drastically. Try and find brands that cater to these issues for skin and coat like California Naturals and Royal Canine. These foods use a very short list of ingredient so there is less for your sensitive dog to react to.

Remember the best food for every dog doesn’t exist, just like the best car for everyone doesn’t exist. There are a few key questions you need to answer to get down to a few brands that will be the best option for your dog. Make sure to read the ingredients and check for quality ingredients in the first six items listed, and then it’s down to taste and what your dog will eat. The Moab BARKery provides samples so you don’t have to buy a whole bag to try. Remember when you switch foods to blend the foods for a few days to make the transition easier or use transitional enzymes to make it easy on your best friend’s tummy.

This page sponsored by:

Moab Barkery logo

Holistic Pet Grooming

and offering the services of the
Holistic Pet Grooming Studio

25 Years Grooming Experience
Animal Reiki Offered (Certified in levels 1 and 2)
Dog Training
B.S. in Biology in Animal Behavior
Specializing in special needs animals and large breeds

Located inside the Moab BARKery (82 N. Main)
Monday thru Saturday - Call for an appointment (435) 690-9214

To see past articles about animals, pets and their care check our archives.

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