When it comes to picking that one perfect food for your perfect pup, it’s a big decision that we don’t take lightly. Sometimes the nutritional needs for your dog aren’t as black and white as we would like when it comes to your dog’s specific health and wellness needs—and finding that those needs are met in their nutritional diet.
Do they need protein in their diet? What about vitamins? How much do they need to eat to maintain a healthy weight and ensure all their health needs are met? These are all very important questions. Let’s take a deeper look into what you should be feeding your dog and how much.
Age and Weight
Your dog’s age and weight are key in not only selecting the correct dog food but ensuring that you’re feeding him the proper amount. If your dog is a puppy, then depending on the brand of pet food, you’ll want to feed him up to two times per pound of body weight over the weight of an adult dog. If the food you’re considering is a puppy or growth formula, then they will typically have higher levels of fat and protein, which is important when it comes to the development of your dog’s bones, muscles, brain, and organ development.
“It is important to make sure any food has the AAFCO statement that means the pet food has been formulated to AAFCO nutrient requirements or has undergone AAFCO feeding studies to help make sure it meets your dog’s nutritional requirements to stay healthy,” said Dr. Bradley Quest, DVM.
A great rule is to follow the feeding guidelines listed on the specific dog food you’re feeding your dog. This will be based on age and weight. Also, take into consideration your dog’s environment and the weather. “It is important to remember that dogs who need more calories because they are more active or spend more time outside using more calories in cold weather to maintain body temperature should receive more of a particular food,” said Dr. Quest. “If you are in doubt how much of a specific food your dog should need based on your dog’s lifestyle, you should contact the manufacturer if it’s not listed on the packaging.”
Kibble, Wet, Raw, or Homemade?
With advances in technology today, we have learned so much about our four-legged family members and their health needs. We are more prepared than ever to make sure we are feeding them the very best foods which contribute to their healthy, happy lives. You always hear about the ongoing debate in the pet food war: Do you feed kibble, wet, homemade, raw, or a combination of the three or even four options?
There are benefits to each of these nutritional options for your dog such as, kibble is more convenient and less messy, which means less of a cleanup for you as the pet parent. Dry kibble is traditionally less expensive and not to mention the oral health benefits! “Dry kibble food may be better for your dog’s oral health as there are some studies showing less plaque accumulation in dogs eating dry diets compared to wet diets,” said Dr. Quest.
Looking at the protein content in the kibble is very important. Essence contains 85% animal protein ingredients, which is one of the highest available on the market today for dry kibble. The Essence wet formulas also offers an even higher animal protein content. Essence Ocean & Freshwater wet food formula, for example, offers 96% fish ingredients. “Essence wet and dry foods are simple formulas and contain combinations of high-quality natural protein sources which can be complimentary to supply the proper nutrition your dog needs,” said Dr. Quest.
There are also benefits to feeding your dogs a wet diet such as being more appetizing and palatable, as well as your dog able to intaking an increase of moisture in their food, but what about feeding them a mixture of both? “The most appropriate diet may be a combination of both dry and wet dog food as you can get the benefits of each, and your dog can get more variety,” said Dr. Quest.
Raw may also be an option to feed your dog. The benefits are similar to feeding your dog wet or canned food, such as increased moisture, but it’s important to keep in mind the risks that come with feeding raw. “If raw food is chosen as your dog’s food, it is important to verify with the manufacturer that proper bacterial control measures have been taken during the processing of the raw diet to ensure that your dog does not become sick,” said Dr. Quest.
You hear about more and more people making their dogs food at home. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds when it comes to making sure your dog is getting all the nutrients he needs in a well-rounded diet. It may be somewhat ambitious but there are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to go this route. “It is vitally important if you choose to feed your dog a home-prepared diet that you consult with a nutrition professional such as a Veterinary Nutritionist or a Ph.D. in animal nutrition to make sure that all the proper nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals are present in the homemade diet and at the proper levels to keep your dog healthy,” said Dr. Quest.
With pet foods on the market such as Essence that offer a wide variety of wellness benefits for your dog, it takes the guessing out of figuring out if they’re getting the proper amount of nutritional benefits in their diet. With the nutritional profile clearly listed on the packaging, it’s great to see what exactly your dog is getting in his diet and how much.