An important decision to make when bringing a new dog home is what you will feed him or her. This decision is based on many variables including your budget, the dog’s health, his or her allergies, and the availability of high-quality dog food in your area. Feeding your dog the highest quality food possible will keep him or her happy and healthy, but with so many dog food options, how do you choose?
There are four main types of dog food, which include dry kibble, wet food, homemade food, and the raw diet. Each type of food has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Dry kibble is the most commonly fed food for dogs, but is also the most variable. Kibble comes in a range of quality levels, from very low, to extremely high. You can buy dry food in almost any flavor imaginable, and can also be formulated specifically for each breed, age, activity level, and health complaint. Dry dog food is very convenient, and can be easily stored and transported. Additionally, dry dog food is formulated to be an extremely balanced diet, including every vitamin and mineral necessary for good canine health. However, if dealing with a dog with food allergies, dry kibble can be aggravating. Two common allergies are grains and wheat, which are typically main ingredients in dry dog food. A serious disadvantage of dry kibble is that the consumer cannot always be confident in the food’s quality, as a number of serious recalls have recently occurred.
Wet dog food can be more enticing for a dog, as it is “smellier” and more similar in consistency to what a dog would eat in the wild. However, the advantages and disadvantages of wet dog are mostly the same as dry food. As with kibble, the quality of wet food is variable, and the best brands will be the most expensive (even more so than dry food). Additionally, wet food is less convenient.
Some dog owners have begun making their own dog food, to combat the uncertainty associated with recalls and allergen-inducing ingredients. Note, homemade food does not mean table scraps, which can be extremely harmful for dogs. A homemade dog food must be extremely balanced, and extensive research must go into what your dog does, and does not need, in his diet. Recipes often include rice, meat, limited veggies, and a vitamin supplement. Homemade food can be time-consuming to prepare, but gives the owner full control over the quality of food the dog is given.
A relatively new option is the raw food diet. This includes high-quality raw meats and bones, with occasional fruits and vegetables sprinkled in. This diet is common for dogs with allergies, and is also considered by many to be the most “natural.” Raw diets may be more nutritious, because nutrients are not destroyed during the cooking process. The disadvantages of the raw diet is that it is extremely messy, may not be completely balanced, and has a risk of carrying dangerous bacteria, such as e.coli, which may harm pet owners.
Choosing what to feed your dog can be a difficult decision. Just as with humans, dogs are affected by the food they eat. Consulting a veterinarian can help make this decision easier, especially when considering the homemade or raw foods option.