Trying to ensure that your fur-kid eats right but intimidated by the wide range of selections available in the pet food aisle and online? Or still lost and confused about how to identify what’s good for your puppy’s diet? Worry not. The Pup Life is here to help you ensure that you are well equipped with the knowledge that you desire, so that your best friend can get the best care that it deserves! Here are some quick general tips to ensure that your dog eats right.
TIP 1: Be Brand Conscious
Look out for dog food brands that have undergone Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) feeding trials, as there exist dog food companies who create their products off recipes but never feed it to actual dogs before putting it in pet stores. Most reputable dog food brands would have AAFCO statements on their products to say that the food is complete and balanced. While many other products will claim to have undergone food trials as well, a lack of AAFCO branding could possibly mean that the trial conducted may have lacked structure or basic controls.
However, do note that although AAFCO establishes standard ingredient definitions and nutritional requirements for dog food, there is no such thing as official AAFCO-approved dog food.
TIP 2: Size Matters
Size matters in ensuring that your dog eats right. For starters, take note that puppies require different food from adult dogs. Also, select a food option that is specifically formulated for the size of your dog or puppy. Your dog’s breed matters as well. The bone growth of a Corgi puppy and Great Dane puppy differ tremendously, and they should not and cannot be given the same food. For example, large-breed puppy food is created specifically to ensure proper bone development and prevent joint issues larger puppies may have.
The size of what they eat matters too. For example, small-breed puppies may encounter difficulties with larger-sized kibble or the chunk sizes of certain wet food. Last but not least, buying the largest bag of food available might seem like the most convenient solution, but that is not necessarily the case due to the serving sizes of the food. A lower serving size indicates that the food is more nutritious and contains more healthy calories, meaning that even if it comes in a smaller bag, it may actually last longer.
TIP 3: Count The Calories
The calories matter! And it varies by pet, way of life and stage of life. For example, puppy food should be higher in calorie count when compared to adult dog food due to the sheer energy that puppies expend by growing and being active. Or if your dog is extremely active, e.g. goes through intense daily exercise through jogging with you, more calories are required in its meal to make up for the energy exerted.
TIP 4: The Ingredients Are Important
The ingredients your dog’s or puppy’s food contain are extremely important to their development. All types of dog food are developed for dogs in the different life stages of being a puppy, adult and senior, so it is important to know what you need and look out for it. For example, puppy food tends to be packed with protein to aid growth, while senior dog food tends to contain glucosamine to maintain joint health. And if your dog is extremely active, it may be wise to pick food for it that has a higher protein makeup.
Here’s an extra tip. A supplement that you should always look to have in your dog’s diet would be that of omega-3 fatty acids, to counter the high amount of omega-6 found in a large majority of manufactured dog food. Common omega-3 rich foods for dogs would be that of flaxseed oil, sardines and salmon. Additionally, there are many benefits to omega-3 as well. It functions as an anti-inflammatory and soothes dogs dealing with allergies and arthritis, benefits their immune systems, boosts heart and kidney health, and raises energy levels. Omega-3 is crucial to the cognitive development of puppies, aiding in brain and eye development, and improves cognitive function of senior dogs.
TIP 5: Watch The Treats
It’s normal to feed your dog or puppy treats to help encourage and reinforce positive behaviour or to facilitate training processes. However, we need to be mindful of the amount of treats we feed our fur-kids, and ensure that there is balance with their overall calorie intake. Giving a dog or puppy too many treats does not only ruin their appetite when it comes to mealtime. It can potentially result in them being overweight. A golden rule would be to ensure that the amount of treats you give your dog a day does not exceed 10 percent of its daily diet. And to purchase treats that are of high quality.
Now that you have picked up these tips to ensure that your dog eats right, it’s time to put them to use! But to take note that the introduction of new food to your dog’s diet should be a gradual transition rather than immediate process. Portion the new food bit by bit into their diet until the switch is gradually complete, and stay alert to any drastic changes your dog may have with bowel movements. Finally, it is of paramount importance to understand that dogs are all unique individuals, just like humans. What is best for each and every dog differs!