Speaking of Pets: Here’s how to feed your dog a nutritious diet
Speaking of Pets
My last column discussed what’s in commercial dog food. To build on that conversation, let’s talk about differnt dog food options. Spoiler: there are alternatives to processed kibble.
Read the Label
If you feed your dog commercial food, look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement, guaranteeing complete and balanced nutrition.
Read the ingredient list for a named meat (“bison” or “lamb,” for instance) as the first ingredient. Avoid foods that list “byproduct meal” or “meat and bone meal.”
I recommend buying food at local pet stores. Not only are you supporting local business and keeping your dollars in your community but you can also rely on the expertise of the staff.
Alternatives to Commercial Food
Another option is raw food. Although some experts cite health concerns, including inadequate calcium and high fat levels, raw food advocates say this diet mimics the way animals eat in the wild and that it reduces allergies and digestive problems.
There’s also homemade pet food. Those who tout this diet point to concerns over commercial pet food contamination. If you choose homemade, just be sure the food provides adequate nutritional support.
Be on the lookout for food-related adverse reactions such as skin allergies and digestive difficulties. If the problems are serious, see your veterinarian. Otherwise, try switching to a different food or formulation.
It’s your choice whether to switch to a new food gradually or vary your dog’s menu daily or weekly. While some say that switching foods quickly can create intestinal issues, there are no scientific studies supporting this.
With so many choices in dog foods today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and end up just grabbing any old bag of dog food off the grocery shelf. But would you do that with your child, or your human family? My guess is that you’d take a second to learn exactly what you’re buying.
Our dogs are part of our families, which means we need to feed them that way. Do your homework, listen to the experts, and decide what’s best for your canine companion before you pull out your wallet. Your dog’s health is in your hands.
Joan Merriam is a freelance writer who lives in Northern California with her golden retriever, Joey, her Maine coon cat, Indy. She emphasizes she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach out to Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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