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If you don’t know what you want, the choices of pet food products seem endless. You might ask yourself – Does your pet have this particular problem or will he have this problem if you do not get this particular food item to prevent it? But there is no food that covers all the bases. So how do we choose? Many of the foods are functional foods, or specialty products, that have at least one ingredient which is designed to moderate or prevent a medical condition. The most common specialty products are geared towards:
- Oral/dental health
- Food allergies
- Urinary tract health
- Joint health
Dental health Foods formulated to increase the health of the teeth are indicated for pets prone to develop a serious dental disease. This is often related to age or breed, but might also be linked to the diet. These foods are designed to clean the teeth of dogs as they chew on their food, and some of the formulas have extra ingredients that are designed to prevent the buildup of tartar. These foods are beneficial for pets that cannot sit through a daily dental care regimen and for pets that are already going through tooth decay.
Since each body is different, what is right for one dog might not be right for another. This is true even for siblings or animals that grow up in the same household. Animals can have allergic responses to the most benign ingredients and it is possible to characterize them by their symptoms – diarrhea, vomiting, and itchy skin are the most prominent. If your dog has a food allergy, you need to put him on a special diet that does not have the ingredient that caused the allergic reaction to begin with. Such foods are made from protein sources that the animal does not have an allergy to, like venison or duck. A lot of these special diets also contained omega-3 fatty acids, like the ones found in flax-seed and fish oils, for strengthening the organs and the immune system.
If your pet has trouble getting around, you need to talk to the vet about supplements and foods that are beneficial for his joint health. The most common ingredients are chondroitin and glucosamine – both of which work with the cartilage and tendons of the joints. Additional ingredients to look for include methylsulfonylmethane and green-lipped mussel. These can be incorporated into your pet’s kibble diets so that they can ingest them with their meals. You can also give it to them in smaller doses in the form of treats. The aforementioned ingredients have been shown to be extremely helpful in rebuilding the damaged cartilage and reducing joint inflammation in animals.
Urinary tract health
Excessive magnesium, calcium, oxalate, and phosphorous levels lead to the development of stones and crystals in the urinary tract. For pets that suffer from these issues, your vet will recommend a diet that has is carefully measured, with the right balance of nutrients and minerals.
How Can You Tell If the Dog Food You Are Buying Is Worth the Money?
There are a wide variety of dog foods available in the market today. Owners can be easily duped into buying food with a “premium” label or a cheaper price. Smart owners make the effort to understand what is in their dog's food and if it's actually worth the money. 5 things that every owner must look at are:
- Is the food good for your dog? Owners have to understand that their dog's diet is dependent on age, breed, activity levels, allergies, and more. Choosing food that is suited for your dog is important as an improper diet can harm your dog. Older dogs, for example, may need specific dog foods to keep them healthy.
- Does your dog food have enough nutrients? Dog foods must have a variety of minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, proteins, and carbohydrates. As long as all of these are present in sufficient quantity and can be absorbed easily, the brand of the pet food does not matter. Another factor to consider is that there must be a balance between the amounts of different vitamins and minerals present. An imbalance in the diet could cause health problems for your pooch.
- Did nutritionists design my dog food? To make sure that the criteria in the above point are met; many pet companies hire pet nutritionists to formulate the dog food. These experts have years of experience in the field and can understand the different needs of different dogs. They can also balance out all the ingredients in the food to make it as effective as possible and keep your pet healthy.
- Was the food produced with quality controls? Some companies prefer to manufacture their food at their own facilities while others do so in off-site factories. The key is to make sure that adequate quality controls have been followed to ensure that no foreign elements get into your pet's food. Contaminated food could lead to serious health problems. There have been many foods recalls lately and experts suggest that using food that has the “manufactured by” label on it when compared to “distributed by” or “manufactured for”. The first label indicates that the food was manufactured by the company and increases the likelihood that they have undergone quality checking measures.
- Has the dog food undergone feeding trials? Foods that have been studied through trials are proven to provide good nutrition along with safety standards. Feeding trials are usually conducted under strict guidelines to prove their efficiency. Foods that have undergone feeding trials usually have a label indicating it.
To avoid guessing, ask your vet for recommendations in picking the best for your dog.