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Diets for Dogs: Here’s What You Need to Know

By Lauren Leonardi . May 01, 2012 | See Comments

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Diets for Dogs: Here’s What You Need to Know

There's no reason why you should feel like processed food is the only option when it comes to your dog's diet. Learn about raw and organic dog food diets, as well as how to make your own dog food.

Opinions and discussions about which diet is best for dogs are no less charged than debates about baby food. Is organic worth the price? Is it really necessary? Is corn as bad as they say? Some believe dogs should eat as their feral ancestors did. Others believe that domesticated dogs have been hanging around tableside since the middle ages, eating whatever scraps are cast off. Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to corn, soy, egg, or dairy. Our furry friends can even sometimes be allergic to chicken or beef. On top of all that, everyone has a budget to think of. So what to do?

The decisions you ultimately make about your pet’s nutrition are up to you. When considering your options, it’s best to be informed about the following five topics:

Raw Food Dog Diet
These may include processed raw foods, like frozen and dehydrated foods, as well as feeding your dog raw meat straight from the butcher.

Grain Free Dog Food: Cut Down on Carbs
Grain free doesn’t necessarily mean carbohydrate free. A corn or millet-free diet may still include rice or potatoes.

Natural Dog Food: Holistic and Organic Dog Food Diets
The fastest growing type of pet foods on the market are natural, holistic, and organic foods. Just because a package says organic, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthful, or that it’s the right food for your dog.

What is in My Dog Food?
The most common and most heavily advertised dog foods are still the most popular with consumers. What’s in the Purinas and Dog Chows of the pet food world, and how will the ingredients of these products affect your four-legged family members?

Homemade Dog Food for Your Pet
Some folks make their own food at home for their dog. Learn some recipes you can use, and the benefits and drawbacks of this approach.

Which Diet for Dogs Works Best For Your Pet?

When you turn that bag or can around you want the first ingredient, always, to be a specified meat (ex: “chicken”) or meat meal (ex: “chicken meal”). If the first ingredient in a wet food is water, skip it. If the first ingredient in dry foods is a grain, skip it. Regardless of which philosophy you subscribe to, it’s inarguable that dogs require protein more than anything else in their diets. The only exception may be dogs suffering from kidney diseases or other ailments, who are put on low protein diets. In that case, discuss options with your vet.

Meat “meal” refers to a whole protein that has had moisture pulled out of it. Meat meal actually has more protein in it than regular meat, which makes it a thumbs-up-worthy ingredient.

Meat by-products should be avoided. “By-products” refer to low-protein bits that aren’t suitable for human consumption. By-products may include bones, tails, snouts and other slaughterhouse waste. These items may fill your pet’s belly, but they add little in the way of nutrition.

It’s widely recommended that you avoid anything that begins with “artificial”. This includes artificial preservatives, additives, colors, and anything else preceded by the word artificial.

Vegetarian diets for dogs are absolutely not recommended. While humans can get by on other proteins like dairy, legumes, and soy, it is nearly impossible for a dog to remain in prime health without actual meat. If factory farms are of concern to you, consider making your own dog food from ethically raised animals, or check out the reputations of the more reputable natural and organic dog food brands. There are options out there for every household, and it’s possible to remain true to your personal values while still getting your dog what they need.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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