Dog food types | how to choose puppy food
What is the best food type for dogs?
It's no surprise that lots of owners feel lost while choosing good dog food for their pup. The variety is endless! There is no one-food-fits-all choice. Nevertheless, there are several rules which might help you to decide.
If you have a chance to know what food your pup was eating before coming to you, use the same brand and taste. Moving from one house to another is quite stressful for a young pup (even for an older dog!) So, it would be a good idea to use the same food your pup is already acquainted with. Even if you believe that food is not the healthiest one, don't rush to change it during her first two weeks in your new home.
Dry food (kibble)
Most dog owners buy kibble for their beloved pets. It's one of the easiest ways to feed your pet. There are different options as for the ingredients and the price range. Just like with any other item to buy, the most expensive option is not necessarily the best one (although the cheapest ones tend to come in not so good quality).
When choosing a good type of kibble, at first be sure not to choose anything colorful. Dogs don't care about their food aesthetics (think about raw meat!) However, dog food retailers do pay attention to that, as esthetics matter to dogs' owners. Dogs can't even see most of the colors their food is painted!
Later, check how much meat is listed as ingredients. If the number is below 20%, then the food is not the best quality. If your pup is allergic, most probably food with chicken won't be a good option either. When comparing two different dog foods, pay attention to the amount of meat and how it's written. If it's "meat", then don't forget that part of it is water. The kibble we buy is dry, so a significant part of the meat is lost during the production process. However, some dog food brands use "meat meal", which might look bigger in percentage (it also doesn't contain any water), but they are not digested so well, and the product quality is reduced by using the meat meal. Sure, the price is lower also.
Some owners choose the no-grain dog food option. The discussion around this topic is never-ending. Yet nobody is sure if the grain-free diet is better for our dogs, or not.
Also, it's good to mention that dry dog food can be not so dry after all! Some brands offer semi-dry dog foods which (at least while kept in their original packaging) stay quite juicy. This type of dog food is also a good choice for dog training, as it's easier for a dog to swallow.
Sometimes owners wonder if they should put water in their dog's kibble or not. Some dog food brands specify that their product should be poured with some lukewarm water. If it's not specified on the label, but you feel that your pup has a hard time chewing her dry food, you can add some water.
We recommend you buy the best quality food you find (a high number of meat or fish, no added colors), but at the same time don't rush to opt for the most expensive one. Lots of dogs live a perfectly good life even while eating not the best quality kibble. If you find yourself in a situation where you can't afford the best one (in some areas dog food is expensive), don't blame yourself and try to look for the best one in the price range you are comfortable paying.
Most owners buy canned dog food as something additional to the main diet. We recommend precisely doing this way, as canned food doesn't require your dog to chew. To keep their teeth healthy and clean, dogs need to chew. If their whole diet consists only of canned food, they will most probably suffer from teeth problems soon, as they wouldn't be chewing and biting. However, together with dry food, canned food can be a good addition to your dog's diet.
Just like with any other type of food, be sure to read the ingredients first. Surprisingly enough, some canned dog foods barely include any meat. Choose the ones which contain a bigger quantity of meat.
Good quality canned dog food might be relatively expensive. In some cases, it might be more sustainable to buy fresh meat, as it comes in less packaging.
The so-called RAW diet consists of feeding your dog fresh meat with little or no other ingredients. A RAW diet is believed to be healthy and beneficial for most dogs, however, it's not the best choice for those who don't tolerate too much protein.
If it's the first time you hear about this type of diet, we strongly encourage you to first look for more information about it and consult your veterinarian, as this diet is not suitable for every owner. It requires finding good quality raw meat and calculating the correct amounts of each type of meat for your dog.
However, if you are interested in this type of dog food, it is possible to buy ready-to-serve raw food. Look for it in the fridge of your local pet store – just like regular meat, those ready-to-use raw balls are kept in cool conditions.
How do you know what food is good for your dog?
Just like us, humans, dogs differ one from another and they have different needs. Just because your neighbor's Rex is happy eating some brand of dog kibble, it doesn't necessarily mean that your pup will benefit from it also.
When choosing a good type of dog food for your pup, keep in mind her age, size, and level of activity. Also, some dogs need specific food, for example, the allergic ones or the ones with white fur.
One of the ways to know that the food you've chosen is a good one is to look at your dog's stool. Your dog should defecate between 1 and 5 times daily. The stool itself should be easy to clean up. If it's difficult to pick it up, it means some ingredients were not digested well. The size shouldn't be bigger than the portion your dog eats. Its color should be dark brown. If there is any sudden change in size, color, or texture, it means something's wrong with your pup's digestive system. If the change happens only occasionally, there's no rush to your vet's office. However, if these changes last for 2 or more days, it's better to check them (especially if there were no changes in your dog's diet). Also, if your dog has a hard time defecating, it means that she doesn't get enough water with her food.
If your dog's stool is not as it should be, the problem might be the food you give her. Try switching to something similar, yet a little bit different. Let's say, you buy kibble with chicken. Try switching it to the same brand of kibble with lamb. If you give your dog some canned food and dry food, try giving only dry food, etc. Wait a couple of days to see if the change you've made affects your pup's wellbeing in any way.
If you need to change your dog's food, don't rush and do it gradually. First, use 30% of the new food and 70% of the old one. Then increase the percentage of the new food and reduce the percentage of the old one, until eventually, your pup will be eating only the new one. This switch might take 1 or 2 weeks, depending on your dog's sensitivity to this type of change. Sure, some dogs can change their diet every day or so, but we don't recommend any radical changes if not necessary.
Don't rush to change your dog's food if you think it's not a good fit for her. Observe her at least for a couple of days, as sometimes the body needs some time to adjust. Switching too often from one food to another might cause even more problems.
If you see any food allergy symptoms in your pup (such as excessive scratching, red ears, and paws, dandruff), try switching to another type of main protein – for example, instead of giving her food with lamb, try the one with fish. Also, consult your vet.