As more companies jump into the competitive market of pet nutrition, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average consumer to tell which one is the best for their pet. Many considerations must be taken into account when you choose a dog food, in particular any allergies that your dog may have.
For example, many dogs can not tolerate beef products, while others have a sensitivity to lamb. Through a process of trial and error you can usually find a dog food that your pet will eat, but is it good for them?
Natural products are making great inroads and although they are expensive, many dog owners are making the switch. You'll find everything from macrobiotic pet food, to natural meals that require more preparation than your own. 🙂
If you are looking to find a natural dog food, the choices are numerous, but one company, NutroPro, has done a very good job of providing an easy to use dog food that is comparable in price to Science or Iams. If you have the time to prepare your dog's food, you may want to consider the gourmet dog food preparations, but in many cases, bagged or canned dog food can be just as beneficial.
Each type of food will come with a recommended serving amount based on a dog's weight. Puppies obviously need to be fed more at first, but you will need to scale back as they get older. Since every dog has a different metabolism, you may need to experiment a little to see what amount of food they really need.
You can use body condition to determine how well they are doing on their current amounts. The rib test is one of the easiest ways to determine a dog's weight condition.
Have your dog stand straight and place your hand on their rib cage. If you can feel their ribs, but not see them, they are in good condition. If you feel mushy or lumpy deposits between the ribs, or if you can not feel the ribs at all, your dog may be overweight. Obviously, if you can see your dog's ribcage, they're not getting enough to eat!
Treats are a large area of concern, since most dog owner's overdo. The average dog will never tell you when they've had enough, it is not in their nature. Most dog trees will have serving guides to help you know how many you should give your pet, but you may want to half this amount, particularly if you are feeding a high quality dog food.
Try to avoid giving your dog table scraps, even though it is tempting. Once in awhile, it is fine to treat your dog, but do not make a habit of it. Our foods are usually higher in fat content, and when coupled with a good dog food, you're dog will be ingesting too many calories, which can lead to obesity.
One treat you must always avoid is chocolate in any form. There has been a lot of controversy over this in recent years, but the bottom line is that certain chemicals in chocolate can cause seizures in a dog. Even if you've fed them chocolate for years, you are still running the risk that a seizure could occur. There is a no way for a dog to be 'immune' to these chemicals and it is much smarter to avoid giving them chocolate.
With proper nutrition, feeding and care, and the right amount of exercise for your dog, you can add years to the life of your best friend.