Buying dog food is so commonplace. We do it all the time without a second thought. If your dog is running low on food, you hop online or go to the store and grab the same bag you’ve been buying.
But have you ever stopped to wonder what they put in it? What goes into your dog’s bowl every time you dish out a cup? Let’s find out.
Canine Diet: The Basics
Dogs are omnivorous, meaning they need a variety of plant and animal-based food in their daily diet. No matter what kind of dog food you choose–kibble, wet, raw, fresh, or freeze-dried–they all need a suitable nutritional profile for canines.
Choosing the best diet for your pooch might be difficult at first, but eventually, you’ll get it right. Some dogs thrive on any type of food you give them, while others have much more sensitive systems.
With your veterinarian, you can achieve the best diet plan for your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle.
The essentials in pet food is made up like this:
Each factor plays a vital role in overall balanced health for canines. The AAFCO or Association of American Feed Control Operations regulates pet food distribution, deeming products suitable or unsuitable for the market. Nutritionists worked diligently to figure out the particular dietary requirements and ensure that pet food companies uphold these standards.
A protein source is probably the most critical thing you can look for in a dog food recipe—the base, if you will. It should make up most of the ingredients, as your dogs thrive more on animal-based content than anything else.
Common vs. novel protein depends on where you fall on the map. For instance, kangaroo meat is a very prevalent and frequently used protein source in Australia. But in the USA, it would be a novel protein source.
Often, energy-filled dogs require higher levels of protein.
Main Commercial Protein Sources
Main commercial ingredients are built from common meats you would find in your own refrigerator. These meat sources are often cheaper and readily available, reducing the cost of many commercial diets.
While these work very well for most healthy adult dogs, there’s always a chance of allergy response to common proteins. However, most pups do just fine with these sources and thrive accordingly.
Common ingredients include:
Less Common Protein Sources
Some dogs have an allergy or sensitivity to many prevalent protein sources. To combat that, canine nutritionists usually do one of two things: recommend either a novel or a hydrolyzed protein source.
Hydrolyzed protein sources are reduced to minuscule amounts, bypassing the system and creating easy digestion.
Like those we will discuss below, novel proteins are meat sources that have never been introduced to your dog’s system. These proteins don’t trigger the system to have an allergic response.
Less common sources include:
Sense dogs or omnivorous creatures, having a medley of vegetables in their daily meal is totally necessary. If you flip a bag of dog food over, you might notice a ton of different vegetables varying from recipe to recipe.
Plant-based materials offer an entirely different set of benefits for your dog. Proteinis super important, but so are these common and nutritionally beneficial veggies.
Fruits are essential to your dog’s diet. However, they are a lesser part of the recipe because of their high sugar content. Still, they have their place and provide a series of benefits.
Grains have quite a controversial subject these days. They were the hot thing on the market until studies on dogs’ heart health.
And so, unless your dog has a grain-specific allergy, having any of these contents in their dog food is completely harmless and even nutritionally beneficial.
And even if your dog has bad reactions to common grains like corn, wheat, or soy, others are often easily digestible.
Some dogs are very sensitive to grains. It’s not as common as thought previously, but it does account for a small percentage of allergies in dogs.
If you find out that your dog has a green allergy, here are some alternatives you are likely to see in their dog food recipes.
If you’re going grain-free, they should be under a vet recommendation, as it may require a prescription diet.
Fats and oils are a sure-fire part of any dog food diet. They require these components to make sure the musculoskeletal system is working appropriately.
Every life stage requires different nutritional needs. For example, as your puppy is growing, it will need a boost in several other ingredients and supplemental additives.
Adults need something to maintain their bodies throughout their prime years. And on the decline, seniors need certain supplements to preserve mobility and organ function.
From the time a puppy is eating solid food, it’s important to supplement them with the proper growth building blocks. It’s easy to see a puppy chow across a bag and think it’s suitable for your dog.
But there’s more to it than that. Your puppy needs certain ingredients to aid in development.
Adult recipes are aimed to provide maintenance. That means you need to give them the same type of nutrition every day to keep up with general health.
It might take some adjusting, as most allergies don’t come out right away. You also might need to change your diet as adults because of other factors.
Senior recipes aim to keep their bodies going for as long as possible. At this point, they will need a few additional ingredients for some more support during a natural decline.
You might find that your senior stops tolerating some ingredients over time as well. You might have to change the diet to suit their likes and dislikes.
There’s a high chance they could become picky eaters. If your dog suffers from any dental issues, you might want to choose a softer selection that is easier to chew.
Choosing a Diet for Your Dog
You can get just about any type of dog food you can imagine within their dietary restrictions when it comes to recipes. There are all sorts of different tastes, textures, and ingredient-specific recipes.
Some of them will be recommended by your veterinarian, while most healthy adults can just eat commercial food without issue. Here are a few things to expect when you see different recipes.
There are quite a few ingredients to mention and tons of combinations therein, as you can see. Pet food companies get more creative by the day, offering just about any dietary texture, flavor, and nutrient mashup.
Ultimately, the dog food you give to your pooch depends on their age, lifestyle, health, and sensitivities. You and your vet can tailor a diet plan that works best for your pup.
Featured Image Credit: WilleeCole Photography, Shutterstock