Is your dog on a fast food diet?
You might surprised..
There are over 44 million overweight and obese dogs in the United States alone.
All said and done, that’s over 238 million pounds to exercise off and 833 million too many kcals being overfed. (But trust me, it’s not your fault!)
Consider the alarming ingredients being put in even the top dog foods..
The real truth in all of this is what we sometimes can’t see.
What we feed our dogs affects how they feel, how many health problems they have, and how long they live for.
Now, the best premium dog food is pricey, there’s no doubt about it.
But when you look at health benefits from feeding your dog the best best food..
Can you really put a price on adding more years to your pet’s life? (I can’t, and I won’t.)
It’s why I wrote this dog food guide; to help you discover the best choices for feeding your dog.
Let’s get started, I’ll teach you everything from A to Z.
Dog food proteins
When it comes to protein for you pup, you have choices: Chicken, chicken meal, chicken by-product and lastly chicken by product meal. There are also “meat meals” too, but in reality they are incredibly vague statements and not to be trusted. You’ll never know for sure if your dog is eating another “fluffy”.
(Best Choice) Chicken: (May be accompanied by a term like “boneless”): Contains all parts of the chicken flesh and skin with the exception of no feathers, heads, feet and entrails. When labeled as “boneless”, bones are also removed. (Boneless does not always relate to higher quality as bones affect calcium and phosphorus levels)
Chicken Meal: Ground chicken which has been refined into tiny particles. It’s less expensive for the manufacturer to transport dry product verses wet chicken which must be further processed at the facility. (Same nutritional value as chicken)
Chicken By-Product: Chicken lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, flood, bones, low-temperature fatty tissues, stomachs, cleared intestines, necks, feet and undeveloped eggs. Feathers are removed. (Certain parts such as intestines may be excluded depending on the manufacturer’s preference)
Manufactures measure ash content to understand the calcium and phosphorus levels. They can adjust accordingly by reducing or increasing the amount of bones. (Chicken by-product meal is generally considered good for the environment and sustainability)
Chicken By-Product Meal: Ground chicken by-product which has been refined into tiny particles. (Cheapest to produce)
What protein sources are the best?
Chicken, Salmon, Lamb, Beef, Vension, Duck, Rabbit, Herring, and yes, even Kangaroo are all available in dog foods today.
From a nutritional standpoint there is generally no comparison. The true purpose of traditional and novelty proteins sources are to address two things:
- To closely replicate the diet of your dog breed’s ancestors by determining the food from their geographical region. German Shepherds were bred in the Alsation Region of Germany, where beef would be fitting. While Border Collies from Scotland, would have a diet consisting of poultry, fish and lamb. Greyhounds, who originally bred in Egypt, can potentially benefit from protein sources such as goat, poultry, pork and rabbit.
- Eliminate allergy interactions caused by specific protein sources. One dog may fine eating Chicken, while another may need Salmon to prevent allergy symptoms such as: Dry, itchy skin with excessive scratching, bald patches, hot spots, vomiting, diarrhea, and infections (ear and skin).
Remember, it can often take as long as 12 full weeks before understanding if a single protein is the best choice for your dog. Most results tend to occur within the first 4 to 8 weeks after switching dog foods.
If you have one of these dog breeds, be cautious as they have been known to be higher food allergy sensitivities: Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Collie, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Retriever, Shar Pei, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Dachshund, and the West Highland White Terrier.
Dog food preservatives
(Best Choice) Look for natural preservatives on the ingredients label like Vitamin E and C, rosemary oil, clove, and certain spices.
Keep in mind these types of preservatives will help protect the nutrients in your dog’s food but they do have a short shelf life. Dog food typically must go from the manufacturer to the distributor, and then to the retailer, and finally your kitchen before it makes to it your dog’s bowl.
The entire process is much longer than you’d first imagine; it’s no different than soup at the supermarket that has been sitting on the shelf for close to a full year.
However, the truth is some manufacturers spend big money on developing bags that will let moisture both in and out to prevent mold growth. Some also design the packaging to have no open seams for protecting against rodents and other tiny unwanted creatures from getting in. All in all, there is much more to preserving dog food than just what’s on the ingredients label.
Did you know.. Over time the fat in your dog food kibble will seep its way down towards the bottom of the bag and affect the palatability.
Avoid these chemical preservatives: BHT, ethoxyquin, and BHA. (Possibly Propyl Gallate)
Dog Food Carbohydrates
(Best Choice) Grain-Free and Low Glycemic Index
When it comes to quality carbohydrates in dog food, the best will have a balanced glycemic index. Certain foods like white potatoes for example, will make your dog’s blood sugar rise quickly, giving them a burst of short-lasted energy. However, when dog food contains carbohydrates with a balanced glycemic index there is a major difference.
The impact on their blood sugar levels will steadily rise, giving them a steady supply of energy throughout the day. The fiber will help them feel fuller for longer periods of time, warding off excessive hunger after mealtime.
Carbohydrates found in dog food: Grains: Corn, Wheat, Oats, Barley, Millet, Oatmeal, Quinoa, and Rice. (Often high in GMOs)
(Best Choice) Grain-Free Replacements: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Tapioca, Yams, and Green Peas.
What makes grain-free dog food the best?
Consider that traditional grains are more than often added to dog food as a cheap filler. Back in my grandfather’s times, burnt cereals from the mills would be processed in to dog food for one reason: It was incredibly inexpensive for the manufacturer.
When it comes to grain-free diets however, there is some serious scientific debate. Manufacturers want to prove grains are still perfectly acceptable (their cheap after all), while consumers mostly just want them gone based on their negative track record.
It’s true that grains can be more than just “empty calories” with protein and vital vitamins and minerals. Plus non-grain carbohydrates like potatoes and tapioca can have lower protein levels and higher sugars when compared to certain grains.
But here’s the truth in all of this, debate aside:
1. More than often grain-free diets will have a higher percentage of protein to mimic your dog’s natural wild diet. (High protein, low carbohydrates and vegetables)
2. Adult and senior dogs can have a difficult time processing carbohydrates as they age. Over time they can eventually develop food sensitivities towards grains and grain glutens.
3. Grain-free diets eliminate grain allergies. It is widely known that grain-related allergies at not number 1 in terms of the top dog allergies, but they can’t be ignored solely because of that reason. The top five most prevalent allergies in dog food ingredients include: Beef, dairy, wheat, chicken and egg.
4. Grain-free dog foods still provide carbohydrates through fruits and vegetables, meaning any nutritional value is not being lost. In fact, when it comes to working or competition dogs, grain-free diets often contain higher fats and proteins to better nourish their ideal body condition.
Dog Food Additives – Flavoring Agents, Coloring Agents And Sweeteners
Flavoring agents to avoid: Animal Digest, Digest, Flavor, Glandular Meal
Sweeteners to avoid: Cane Molasses, Corn Syrup, Fructose, Sorbitol, Sugar, and Di-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate.
Dyes and coloring agents to avoid: Blue #2, Red #40, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow #5, Yellow #6. (Generally all numbered dyes)
Additives to avoid: Glyceryl Monostearate, Phosphoric Acid, and Propylene Glycol.
Dog Food Fiber
Fiber sources to avoid: Cellulose, Corn Bran, Corn Cellulose, Oat Hulls, Peanut Hulls, Rice Hulls, Soybean Mill Run, and Wheat Mill Run.
Dog Food Supplements
Supplements to avoid: Bone Phosphate, Salt, Mineral Oil, Yeast Culture, and Yeast Fermentation Solubles.
Dog Food Vitamins
Vitamins to avoid: Menadione Sodium Bisulfate (Menadione Dimethyl-Pyrimidinol Bisulfate, Menadione Dimethyl-Pyrimidinol Bisulfite, Menadione Sodium Bisulfate Complex, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite and Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex.)
Dog Food Fruits and Vegetables
Look for these fruits and vegetables: Apples, Blueberries, Carrots, Cranberries, Chick Peas, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Green Beans, Kelp, Peas, Alfalfa, and Spinach.
Dog Food Essential Minerals
Essential minerals are absolutely vital to your dog’s wellness. Chelated minerals, which are the best organic forms, can support their immune system, growth and development, and skin and coat.
What makes chelated minerals the best choice for dog food?
There’s a good reason chelated minerals are nearly 5x times higher in price than non-chelated minerals. They have a higher absorption rate, with an increased bioavailability ranging from 5 to 15 percent.
1. Healthy bones, muscles and teeth
2. Healthy nervous system and immune system
3. Healthy heart
4. Support thyroid gland function
5. Support blood cell oxygen delivery
6. Support synthesis of collagen and keratin for a healthy skin and coat.
7. Assist in digestion of fatty acids
8. Promote and regulate efficient energy metabolism
(Best Choice) Look for these minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Iodate, Copper Proteinate, Dialcium Phosphate, Maganese Proteinate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Proteinate.
Dog Food Probiotic Extracts & Prebiotics
Fun fact, did you know that nearly 80% of a dog’s immune system is in their digestive track? It’s true, which is why protecting and supporting their gastrointestinal health is so critical.
Probiotics help aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients by keeping harmful bacteria from growing. These live microbes also play a major role in preventing pathogenic bacteria, illnesses and diseases.
(Best Choice) Look for these probitoics: (Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract)
Prebiotics are what feed probitoics. (They are their nutritional lifeline so to speak) These complex sugars increase the overall chance of good bacteria growing in the gut.
(Best Choice) Look for these prebiotics: Chicory Root
Dog Food Essential Fats and Oils
For a radiant skin and shiny coat, proper brain development, and vital bodily function, dogs need essential fats and oils in their diet. Plus, when it comes to fatty acids like omega-3 an omega-6, research has shown that they can potentially lower the risk of chronic diseases in dogs. (Including arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.)
(Best Choice) Look for these fats and oils: Chicken Fat, Menhaden Fish Oil, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Herring Oil, and Flax Oil. You’ll want high percentages and low ratio when it comes to Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. For example, if Omega-6 is at 1%, Omega-3 should be at a 0.13%, or a 7:1 ratio. (The lower the better.)
It is generally best to avoid: Animal fat, poultry fat, vegetable oil, generic fish oil, and mineral oil. (Remember, specific ingredients are better than mystery/vague ingredients)