4 Things Every Dog Parent Needs To Know About Dog Food

dog with food bowlAs a dog parent, you would do anything to ensure that your furry friend is happy and healthy. So why is it that so many people feed their pet big brand kibble? The main reason is that they don’t know any better. Young adults with their first dog will likely buy the brand their parents fed their childhood dog and first time dog owners probably stick to the kibble recommendation that the shelter volunteer gave them. Stumbling across this page shows that you care about your pup, so do yourself and your dog a favor and learn about the five things every dog parent needs to know about dog food:

Is your current brand under investigation?

Did you know that In July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opened an investigation into a potential link between grain-free dog foods and a form of heart failure in dogs called dilated cardiomyopathy (or DCM). In June 2019, the FDA issued an update sharing what they’ve learned so far and named 16 grain-free brands that make affected foods. Researchers still don’t know the exact cause, but the current thinking is that legumes and potatoes, which grain-free foods use to replace grains, are somehow blocking the absorption of essential nutrients. The investigation of the potential link is ongoing. 

Because of the FDA’s ongoing investigation, it’s recommended that dog owners switch to a food that does not include peas, lentils, potatoes or other legumes that are listed among the first 5 to 10 ingredients. There are no special nutritional benefits to these ingredients, and since they’re now thought to be the most likely cause of the DCM issue, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Other common legumes to look out for are chickpeas, soy, and beans.

How is your dog’s food made?

Some traditional kibbles undergo a process called hot extrusion. This means that the food is processed under extreme heat and pressure that can decrease the natural vitamins and minerals found in the ingredients. This isn’t ideal as many companies will then include synthetic additives like Lactic acid, Potassium chloride, L-lysine, Choline chloride, Niacin supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Calcium pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin supplement, Folic acid, Taurine, etc. Some brands will add sketchy ingredients like brewers rice, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, natural flavors, corn meal, chicken by-product meal, brewers dried yeast, etc. Lastly, so many brands of dog food are only held to feed grade standards which means that it is not suitable for consumption by people and is only legally allowed to be fed to animals.

If that last paragraph made you think twice about what you’re feeding your furry friend, here are some green flags when researching the premium dog food you want to purchase. Look for a brand that cares deeply about what is in their food and how it can transform the lives of dogs. This is a great way to verify whether the food you’re considering is quality or not. Next, a dog food made with human grade ingredients means that your dog is getting nothing but the best. Because they’re family, they should eat the same way you and your other loved ones do. Avoid foods processed by hot extrusion and opt for a brand that uses an air drying method to make their dry dog food. This might make the food a little smellier, but it will also ensure wonderful nutrition for your pup. Lastly, make sure the food is all natural and free from any sketchy ingredients.

Don’t be afraid of grains

Grain-free was always, at best, a silly marketing fad; now it appears to be even worse. In fact, only one percent of all dogs have a known grain allergy. Some brands have added a small amount of millet, a gluten-free grain, to their ingredient lists to take a stand against the grain-free trend. Dogs have special enzymes in their stomachs specially designed to digest grain. Wolves, interestingly, do not have these enzymes. Scientists think dogs evolved in this way because they’ve lived alongside grain-eating humans for thousands of years. To reiterate, unless your dog is part of the 1% with a grain allergy, you don’t need to be buying grain-free dog food.

Read about serving sizes

Most veterinarians recommend that adult dogs eat twice a day. Some people feed their dogs once a day, but this feeding schedule can lead to dogs getting hungry and can be prone to bilious vomiting (vomiting caused by an empty stomach). Keep in mind that puppies need to eat more frequently and should be fed four times per day at first, and can slowly be weaned down to twice daily feedings by about six months of age. Make sure that you’re always reading suggested serving sizes to prevent over or under feeding your dog. If your pup is getting too much food they could be prone to certain health ailments and if they’re underfed they could be missing out on key nutrients to keep them healthy.