Dog Health & Care

Dog Food – How to Buy the Good Stuff

Feeding dog food to the family dog is considered one of the most basic of cares, yet it is the one with the least amount of knowledge known to most homes with dogs. Owners of dogs purchase bags of their favorite kibble dry dog food from the grocery story or one that is on sale, pour a bowlful out into the dog bowl, make sure the water bowl is full, and onto the next day’s item on the list.

After that, scraps off the table may account for the remaining day’s dog diet. Unfortunately, with more and more dogs living to a ripe old age along with their baby boomer dog owners, there is a lot more to it with age and disease coming into play over the years.


cartoon of fat dog writing his blog about food habits


The worst thing a dog owner can do is rely on the opinion of an obese dog to inform him whether his food is good for him or not. You are trusting the demands of a fat dog who is surprised by his own farts? I wish a had a nickel for every time I heard, “My dog hates Hills Science dog food, so I buy the other brand.” Well, that other brand may have lard and crap in it to make it smell better to your dog … but nothing nutritious for the healthy life of your dog.

Reading the labels and learning how to recognize what is good and bad are part of being a responsible dog owner. But over the years, dog owners have begun to spend more money on dog food than any other pet-related expense there is — just to satisfy their dog’s taste buds.

When looking for a healthy dog food, read the list of ingredients on the back or side of the bag. Pet food labels by law are required to list their ingredients by weight. Items such as meat, fish, egg, meat meal, or fish meal need to be the first or second ingredient. They have a high percentage of proteins in the form of digestible, usable amino acids.

And for sure make sure the food has an AAFCO statement on the food for the dog’s health . The Association of American Feed Control Officials  sets the standards the company needs to follow through on specific feeding trials or a nutrient profiles for that particular dog food. If it does not have an AAFCO label, do not buy it.

Changing dog foods

Most people are not aware that switching from one brand to another may cause severe digestive problems in the dog. Changing dog foods should be handled carefully. Ample time needs to be allowed when switching from one brand to another, as sudden changes in food causes vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid these kinds of problems, plan on spending about 7 to 10 days for the entire changeover. Otherwise, you will be picking up lots of watery poop or vomit, your choice.

The first three days should be divided with 25% of the new and 75% of the old food mixed together. If no diarrhea or vomiting shows up, increase the new food to 50% with  50% of the old food. Keep going until the new dog food shows no problem.  After a month of being on the new food, examine the dog to see if it is nutritionally agreeing with it. Signs should be clear and bright eyes, a shiny coat, not too heavy or thin, and sufficient energy levels.

Choosing dog foods

The big question seems to be whether to feed dry food, semi-moist or canned — along with the brand name and quality. Dry food is recommended as a good kibble keeps the teeth clean and provides more nutrients. But most important is choosing the right food for the dog’s stage of life. Elderly dog should not eat puppy food or adult food, but a special low-protein food for dogs over seven to eight years of age. They have less energy, need an easier digestible food. On the other hand, puppies are growing and need the high-protein foods until they reach about one year of age. In between is a good quality dog food. Definitely, one dog food does not provide the same needs for all dogs.

Dog allergies

The dog and dog food form allergies every now and then, one of the main causes of allergies there is. It shows up through allergies, obesity, malnutrition, or skin and coat problems. Things like dog food calories or weight management are not really a concern until dog health problems begin to develop. Such issues will eventually start up if the dog food is low-quality or the wrong type — such as a high protein-high energy dog food for an older dog who lives a sediment lifestyle. Many dogs are allergic to food items different meats, grains, dairy products, or artificial flavorings and colorings.

Dogs who develop allergies find themselves allergic to different types of meat, grains, dairy products, or artificial flavorings and colorings. Allergies show themselves in skin problems: warm spot problems with painful infected areas of skin; rashes; hives; or chronic itching. A long exposure to protein and carbohydrate sources can cause serious allergies, which can be dealt with by switching food types—beef and corn to chicken and rice or lamb and rice. Another option is to switch from commercial dog foods to homemade diets—boiled chicken with rice added or boiled hamburger with rice.

Dogs and milk

Most dog owners feed milk or milk products to their dogs, not knowing that most dogs have a tendency to be lactose intolerant and lack the enzyme ‘beta lactamase.’  This enzyme allows the digestive system to break down milk’s sugar ingredient. Dogs who are allergic to milk find themselves containing a lot of undigested sugar in their intestinal tract for breeding bacteria.

The milk bacterium causes many problems: stomach irritation; irritation of the intestines; vomiting; and diarrhea. For dogs that are not lactose intolerant, it is okay to give them a small amount of milk if it does not cause any problems.


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