Every time your dog smells the aroma of its doggie bowl about to be served, it would start wagging its tail in excitement and start making short work of its food. But as a dog parent, are you aware of the food that you’re serving to your four-legged friend? While most pooches can maintain optimal health through several diets, first-time owners either stick to dog food or human food diet. So, what’s the best dog food to feed your dog? This article dives into the ins and outs between kibble food and table scraps.
Choosing what type of food is best for your pets can be challenging. The first step is to consult your veterinarian. Here are some points to consider when you choose a food for your dog:
- Health: A balanced, nutritional diet is critical to maintaining good health.
- Activity level: Working dogs and service dogs have different caloric requirements than household pets.
- Age and size: Nutritional requirements differ between puppies and adults, large breed and small breed dogs.
- Food allergies: Some dogs are allergic to specific proteins or ingredients such as eggs, corn, wheat, soy, or milk.
- Taste: No matter what you think, dog food has to taste and smell good – to your dog.
- Your lifestyle: How much time do you have available to spend cooking and shopping for your dog?
Let’s Start with a Kibble Diet
A kibble diet is commercially prepared and is most certainly available in every dog shop in the world, making it the most accessible option for dog owners. Despite this advantage, kibble food ingredients vary by brand— and as such, most dry dog foods have highly processed components and are high in preservatives. Under USDA regulation, “all animal foods must be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.”
Kibble ingredients include protein sources such as beef, poultry, fish, and eggs; grains; cereals; and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All dry dog foods need preservatives to prevent the fat from becoming rancid. Some brands are heavy on carbohydrates or have low-quality ingredients and added sugar. Owners who feed their dogs with kibble suggest the potential benefits such as reduced dental plaque, healthier gums, reduced risk of bacteria, easier storage, less risk of spoilage, and cost-effectiveness.
If you choose a pure kibble diet for your pooch, we recommend reading the label and making sure that protein is the primary ingredient listed in the food, not grain. These components mostly come from processed lamb, beef, or chicken. Grain-free diets exist, but carbohydrates are required for energy, and the choice of grain is important since some dogs have sensitivities to wheat, corn, or soybeans.
What About a Raw Diet?
Raw dog food can be homemade, store-bought, freeze-dried, or dehydrated. A raw diet usually includes organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, dog-safe fresh fruits and vegetables, and a dairy product such as yogurt. Advocates of raw food diets cite shinier coats, healthier skin, improved dental health, increased energy, and smaller stools as benefits.
Dog parents advocating for a raw diet claim that since dogs are descendants of wolves, their primary source of food should come from organic meat. However, this claim isn’t 100% true since dogs have adapted to survive on a kibble diet while wolves can’t. If you decide to incorporate raw meat into your dog’s diet make sure to be aware of the risks associated with it.
Some veterinarians warn that raw diets are not appropriate for dogs who share their homes with people whose immune systems are weak or compromised like young children and the elderly. Meticulous care is required in the handling, preparation, and sanitation of raw food. Dogs with pancreatitis, cancer, or other diseases may require cooked food. Puppies are also better off having cooked food.
The American Veterinary Medical Association is against the unregulated feeding of raw foods and discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens that could cause illness to cats and dogs and even humans. Some risks include the possibility of nutritional deficiencies (doggies should have a balanced diet as well), or the development of salmonella bacteria in their stomachs.
Can I Feed Table Scraps to My Dog Instead?
Now that you’ve made it to this part of the article, you would notice that the foods dogs can eat can vary depending on their overall makeup and your instinctive preference as an owner. Another looming question is, “Can I feed my leftovers to my dog?”
By default, feeding them table scraps is not recommended because they can cause your pet’s diet to go haywire. Instead, you can occasionally hand out healthy treats with natural, real ingredients, such as beef, chicken, lamb, peas, spinach, carrots, and blueberries. These can do wonders for their overall well-being — promoting heart health, increasing energy level, making coats shiny and breath smell better, improving eyesight, and even impacting a dog’s stool. You must also ensure that these treats are low in calories, fat, and sodium so your dogs can enjoy them while maintaining their health at 100%.
You could ask your vet about fresh food. Most fresh food services are offered by subscription and delivered to your door. The best ones work with veterinary nutritionists to formulate a plan customized for your dog. They offer options in recipe choices, portion size, and frequency of delivery. They also provide easy-to-understand information about ingredients, feeding schedules, and how to keep the food fresh.
The Final Verdict: Which One Is Better?
What’s the best dog food to feed your dog? The answer is simple: there isn’t any “best” dog food. Ultimately, it all boils down to your dog’s breed, your personal preferences, and whichever diet works best to fulfill your pup’s daily nutritional requirements. If you’re not certain about which diet to try out, always consult a reputable vet.