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Choosing the right dog food for your canine companion can be overwhelming. Almost every pet store has a wide selection of dog food brands and each one claims to be the best. Many dog food manufacturers have formulated breed-specific foods to address the health and needs of a specific breed of cat or dog. It is easy to understand why dog owners tend to gravitate towards foods that claim to be tailor-made to the genetic makeup of their dog.
But the essential question you need to ask is, “Are you making the right choice?” The problem with breed-specific foods is that they are usually just a marketing gimmick and don't have the backing of solid nutritional science. We still lack thorough research on the differing nutritional requirements of different breeds. The metabolism of a small breed, for instance, is different from that of a large breed. However, it is unlikely that the dietary needs of a Great Dane vary from that of a Chihuahua.
Do breed-specific foods help your pup?
In general, breed-specific dry dog foods or wet dog foods are not harmful. But, they are redundant if your assessment of your dog's nutritional requirements (based on size, life stage, and specific needs) is already correct. Take, for instance, a large breed like a Labrador Retriever. They can develop serious joint problems if they get a diet rich in calcium or calories and might have to depend on joint supplements for dogs. You must give him the appropriate fresh dog food so that his bones grow properly. That being said, there is no benefit to giving him specially formulated foods compared to regular high-quality foods. After all, there are no critical differences in the dietary requirements between a Labrador Retriever and a Golden Retriever. Instead, opt for large breed-specific dog food like Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Large Breed Dry Dog Food.
Daschund-specific diets are another great example. Those diets claim to contain ingredients that promote a lean body mass and prevent instances of back disease. Although this sounds like a good idea in theory, since their elongated structure predisposes them to back injuries that cause paralysis, there is nothing in the diets themselves that accomplish this particular goal. As long as the pet owners choose a good quality diet for small breeds like Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dog Food and do not let their dogs get obese, they have nothing to worry about.
They also pose a problem for veterinarians. Let us say you have a Shih Tzu that develops G.I issues on a special Shih Tzu diet, necessitating the requirement for a new therapeutic diet meant to address the gastric trouble. As an owner, you might be reluctant to change the diet if you mistakenly believe that the Shih Tzu-specific dry or wet dog food has special ingredients, which will keep your dog healthy. You must discuss your concerns with the vet so that you can work together to make sure that you address all the nutritional needs of your dog.
What criteria should you go by?
When selecting pet foods, make sure you choose a high-quality diet made by a trusted brand. It should suit the size, life stage, and lifestyle needs of your dog. These are the three most crucial factors in determining the nutritional needs of your dog. If you are unsure about where to begin, ask your vet. He or she will suggest a diet plan suited to the specific health needs and genetic concerns. That is the only way to ensure that your dog lives a long, healthy, and happy life.
Ways to Know if Your Dog's Pet Food Works
Take a few moments and think about your standards when it comes to the food you feed yourself and your family. Are you big on locally grown or organic food? Whatever standards you have for yourself and your family, the dog food you choose must be wholesome and healthy as well. But with the marketing terms on all the pet food labels, it is difficult to tell which is the best option for your canine companions. Here are a few pointers that will help you sort out the fact from the fiction:
- Clinically proven – Phrases like “clinically proven” and “Veterinarian/Doctor recommended” are important as they have specific rules associated with their use, controlled by the FTC and the FDA. If you see pet food that states specific health benefits or claims to improve the physical appearance and condition of your pet, you want to make sure that the claims are clinically proven. That is the only guarantee that the claim is not just marketing hype, but an actual benefit from a quality product.
- Clinically tested vs. clinically proven – While these two terms are often used interchangeably, “clinically proven” foods are better. It implies that the product in question has undergone scientific review and testing and can stand up to the claims made by the company. To be labeled “clinically proven”, a product must have undergone at least two studies that show that the claim is accurate. Clinically tested means that the product was tested on patients, and it does not necessarily meet the requirements of sound experimentation.
- Undergone rigorous clinical trials – The main reason to test wellness and therapeutic pet foods via clinical trials with real pets (under veterinary supervision) is to ensure that the pet food is safe and does not pre-empt any adverse reactions. It is also crucial that there is enough scientific evidence to show that the food delivers the health benefits it promises. If you feel that a particular health need is addressed by feeding your pet food that claims a particular benefit, you might not look for alternative remedies. If the health claim is false, the condition can go untreated.
- How do you determine if it is clinically proven – While it is a good idea to feed your pet food with established benefits such as “clinically proven” antioxidants, which will benefit the immune system of your dog, you should consult the veterinarian for specific health issues. He/she would be aware of your pet's specific needs and will be able to decide on the best food for the situation. Once you have all the information you need about your pet's health needs, you can make a more informed decision.