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Is A Premium Dog Food Really That Much Better For Your Dog?
==========The scoop on premium dog food========
If you’re interested in premium dog food, I probably don’t need to talk to you importance of diet to keep your dog active and healthy. You already know you want something better than “average” for your furry friend
But how much do you really know about what’s in a premium food and what your particular pet’s needs are? I’m not a vet, but I know a thing or two about health and nutrition. (As a family dentist who practiced for twenty years, I saw firsthand the effects of poor dietary habits on human health, and particularly on human teeth!!).
Like you, your dog has to deal with the effects of stress, age, exertion, a polluted environment and food grown in nutrient-depleted soil. Unlike you, it must obtain practically all its nutrition from a single food. Sure, you can give him a few treats or the occasional piece of table (not too much, I hope!), but otherwise he’s eating out of the same bag or can day after day. You want him to get complete nutrition from this food.
Even experts seem to disagree about what exactly complete nutrition is. Perhaps this explains why there are so many premium dog food formulas. However, there is one thing they agree on: Premium dog food is better for your pet than economy and grocery store brands. Although you will pay more, it is usually true that you get what you pay for.
Experts also agree on this, because premium foods are more nutritionally dense and easier to digest, your dog won’t need to eat as much. One study even concluded that if you fed your dog the recommended amounts on each package, you’d end up saving money on premium formulas. This is because your dog needs to eat much less of it. (You’ll save on pooper popsicles, too!)
Another way to tell if your dog is eating a proper diet it is simply to observe it. Are their eyes bright, their coat silky and shiny, and their skin free from dryness and itchiness? Are you at a healthy weight? How is your energy level? This can vary from animal to animal, but as you get to know yours, you’ll know when your dog isn’t up to par.
Of course, any persistent health issues should be checked out by your vet, as should any special dietary needs. But in general, you will know if your friend is doing well on the diet you are feeding him. If you see signs that it is not, try a different formula or another brand of premium dog food.
Introduce new foods gradually, especially if you have a picky eater. And while we’re on the subject, it’s always good for your dog to enjoy eating. This has much less to do with taste than with smell. Dogs have fewer taste buds than us, but about 40 times more smell receptors. So make sure he eats with gusto and doesn’t just pick at the food.
Here are some basic guidelines you can follow:
Every dog needs the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Your dog needs all of these in the correct proportions to stay healthy. Needs vary by life stage, breed and activity level. Dog food companies make premium quality dog food for all life stages, from puppy to senior. An average adult dog needs a daily intake of about five ounces for every ten pounds of body weight, with essential nutrients in the following proportions:
protein –23% of the total intake
fats –5% of total intake
Carbohydrates –65% of the total intake
Additional vitamins and minerals your dog needs are: vitamins A, D, E, B complex, niacin, biotin, folic acid, choline, and pantothenic acid; Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium chloride, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine and selenium.
It is generally agreed that dogs do better with a protein source that is primarily meat rather than soy and grains. Check the label. All food labels in the United States must list ingredients in order of quantity. If meat by-products are included, they should come after the actual meat, not before it. Meat derivatives are an inferior source of protein and are basically what’s left after good quality meat has been removed. “Crude protein” can be an equally poor source, as it can include parts of the animal that cannot even be digested or absorbed by the average dog (hair, beaks, etc.).
Omega fatty acids are a hot topic in human nutrition these days and have been found to be just as important in the canine diet. Both should be present and in the right proportion. Most premium dog food companies have done the research on this and adjusted the ratios, but as always, ask your vet if you’re not sure.
============Wet vs. Sec=============
You can buy premium dog food in almost any form, but which is the best? Again, most experts seem to agree. Dry food is less likely to allow plaque to build up on the teeth, less likely to harbor bacteria if left out too long, and results in firmer, more compact stools. Semi-moist foods are convenient, but for some reason (I’m not sure what) they don’t offer the same nutritional benefits as premium kibbles or canned foods.
That said, I’ve also heard arguments that suggest a diet of exclusively dry food can be a strain on a dog’s kidneys. So, to be sure, check with your vet.
============Stages of life=============
puppies they need more calories and essential nutrients than adult dogs. They need up to twice as many calories per ounce of body weight and should get 25% to 30% of their energy from protein, depending on the breed.
Most premium dog food brands factor this into their puppy formulas, but it doesn’t hurt to check the label. By six to eight weeks of age, a puppy should be completely weaned and eating its dry food consistently. After that, different breeds reach their mature weight at different rates, from 9 months to 24 months. Therefore, it is difficult to give an age or weight at which you should wean your pet off puppy food. Again, your vet can help you here.
Also, remember not to try to “rush” the growth process by overfeeding. If it grows too fast, a dog can develop bone growth diseases. A puppy should eat three to four meals a day because they are growing fast but still have a small tummy, but don’t go overboard with the portion sizes.
adult dogs should eat according to their size and energy needs and should be given two meals a day. Premium dog food companies often refer to this as a “maintenance diet.”
Unlike cats, dogs do not strictly eat meat. In fact, a dog is more like an omnivore and will eat almost anything, whether it’s good for him or not! A certain amount of plant matter is part of a dog’s natural diet. Dogs love vegetables like broccoli, carrots, zucchini, peas, and beans, and fruits like bananas, apples, and cantaloupe. These make great low calorie treats too!
One thing you should never feed your dog is chocolate – it contains a chemical called theobromine that is toxic to dogs.
major dogs need premium dog food to help them manage the effects of aging. Because different breeds vary so much, it’s hard to give an age at which you should switch to a senior diet. The ASPCA recommends using weight as a guide and offers the following:
Small breeds or dogs weighing less than 20 pounds: 7 years
Medium breeds or dogs weighing 21 to 50 pounds: 7 years
Large breeds or dogs weighing 51 to 90 pounds: 6 years
Giant breeds or dogs weighing 91 pounds or more: 5 years of age
The ASPCA recommends you Start treating the symptoms of aging before they become apparent. Just like us, dogs will begin to accumulate more body fat as they age, even though they consume fewer calories. (At least we’re not alone!). Muscle mass will tend to decrease, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut back on your senior dog’s protein intake. If anything, protein is more important than ever to help maintain muscle mass, so avoid food formulas for older dogs with reduced protein.
One thing you’ll want to feed him less of is calories. Obesity is a real problem with adult dogs, and many owners don’t even realize their dog is overweight. Aside from portion size and calorie content, one way to avoid an overweight dog is to resist feeding him table scraps. Most human food is not good for your dog.
============How much to feed=============
How is your dog’s weight? You should be able to feel your dog’s spine and ribs with light finger pressure, but not really see them. If you have to “dig” to find them, your dog is overweight, and if you can actually see his ribs, he is underweight.
If you’re not sure how much to feed, you’ll love the interactive dog food calculator on the PetsMart home page! It is the result of considerable research that has been published in scientific journals and accepted by industry experts. You can determine the right amount of food to feed your dog and find out how long that 40 pound bag will last!
If you are ready to feed a nutritionally complete premium dog food, do you still need supplements? This is another hotly debated topic. As a general rule, it seems most dogs do well without supplements. For certain dogs and certain conditions, supplements can make a difference. For example, a dog that is not thriving and there is no other medical explanation for it might improve with supplements. Or, dogs with certain skin conditions are known to improve with supplements. Since there is a danger of doing more harm than good, you should discuss supplements with your vet.
If you decide to use one, choose one made from natural sources and designed as a multivitamin formulated specifically for dogs. This way you will get everything in the right amounts and proportions. Add it to the diet twice a week so you won’t overwhelm or suppress your dog’s internal regulatory mechanisms.
There are many reasons why a dog may be put on a special diet. Some dogs are very sensitive to certain ingredients in commercial dog foods. Even if you’re feeding her the best, premium dog food, if your dog isn’t thriving, her diet may be a problem for her. Owners have turned to alternative diets — holistic, raw, even kosher — to optimize their pet’s health. Some choose these diets simply because they think they are better, not because their dog has any problems.
We will discuss special diets in a future article. For now, I hope you’ve gained some useful insights into the benefits of premium dog food over budget brands.
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