Fitness + Health

What Food Is Best For Your Pup?

Fitness + Health

What Food Is Best For Your Pup?

With paid influencers and great marketing advertisements, it is really quite difficult to choose a dog food these days. It is smart to do the research ourselves by reading the labels on each food we’re considering. Select a food that is species appropriate, designed for your dog’s life stage, consider any health conditions he may have, and his daily activity levels. Also, remember to follow the feeding instructions/guidelines on the food as well!

Some of you may be thinking, “Yes, I know all of that! I’m no amateur pet parent when it comes to reading labels and instructions! I want to know which food suites my fur baby best!”. We’re here to help you through all the fad jargon and dog food types to knowledgably select the best food that is complete and balanced.

Before diving into the current food trends, let’s start with the dog food basics. What does a complete and balanced diet mean? Complete means that the food contains all of the required nutrients that dogs need. But does it contain the correct ratio of nutrients that dogs need? Not necessarily. But that is where “balanced” comes into play. You need both to make sure you’re in the clear! Different amounts of food (and different ratios of nutrients) are needed for different life stages.

Example: You would not feed the same amount of food to an active, growing puppy that you would feed a 12-year-old powder-faced pooch. Please remember that the feeding directions on each label are merely guidelines that may need revising based on your fur baby’s activity level and health condition. Don’t know how much activity your dog gets during the day? Be sure to use your Fi Collar app to track it! This will ensure that you’re feeding your dog the appropriate food and the appropriate amount of food.

KIBBLE (DRY) DOG FOOD

We will start with the food type that everyone knows. You see kibble dog food everywhere! You can find it at grocery stores, dollar stores, pet food stores, basically anywhere that sells anything. Kibble dog food is the most popular type of food for dogs, most likely, because of its convenience, availability, and price. In laymen terms, kibble dog food is ground up ingredients cooked into different shaped pellets. The sad fact is that most dry (kibble) dog foods are made up of compromised meat/byproducts, grains, and lack the enzymes your dog needs to thrive and be healthy.

Are you wondering what a byproduct is and why your peers talk so poorly about them? Byproduct is what is left over after the intended product has been made (typically what went to human consumption). Byproduct cannot be consumed by humans… so I wouldn’t want my dog to consume it either.

HUMAN-GRADE DOG FOOD

Human-grade dog food has been on the upward trend for a handful of years now. According to The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), there is no definition for “human-grade” in any animal feed regulations. There are very few dog foods that would actually be considered edible for human consumption. Dogs just have different dietary needs than us! A product formulated for a pet is unlikely to be nutritionally adequate for a human and vice versa. Human-grade does not automatically equal nutritional safety for pets.

A human-grade diet for dogs includes ingredients like vegetables, legumes, herbs, proteins, and organ meats. You will also see human-grade dog foods called homemade dog foods. This type of dog food is made fresh and is delivered through a food service for maximum freshness.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines “edible” as products that are fit for human consumption. These edible foods have been processed, inspected, and have passed manufacturing regulations that are in place to ensure safe consumption by humans. Edible is a standard of food. Human-grade is not a standard of food. If these conditions are met for a dog food, human-grade claims may be made. If these conditions are not met, then it is an unqualified claim and misbrands the product. Scary to think that majority of human-grade dog foods aren’t actually human-grade!

A product might claim to be human-grade because its ingredients “came from a USDA meat-packing plant.” But materials leaving a USDA meatpacking plant may be either edible or inedible. The piece of meat that is rejected because it does not meet edible standards and some slaughter byproducts are not human edible, nor can they be implied to be unofficially human-grade.

RAW DOG FOOD DIET

We are seeing more and more dog owners feed their fur babies a raw diet. When I first saw this diet, I was taken aback at how they handled the raw meat with their bare hands every day! (Because gloves aren’t an option, right? Just kidding.) But I took courses on raw diets, watched hours and hours of informative videos, and did extensive research. Turns out that a raw diet isn’t as scary as it sounds.

When you have a backyard get together, you handle raw meat before grilling your cheeseburgers, right? Right! So, if you’re freaking out about handling raw meat, it’s okay! Wear disposable gloves and wash your hands after! You’ll be fine. Just use safe food-handling practices in the kitchen (especially if you live with children and/or elderly people). Bacteria will always be an issue, whether it is for a family meal or your dog’s meal. Please be sure to wash your dog’s bowl after each meal and make sure that children cannot reach the food bowl. Don’t put leftover meat openly in your refrigerator. And if you have a messy eater, be sure to clean around the dog bowl every day.

A raw diet typically consists of raw red meat, fish, bones, raw eggs, fruits and veggies, organ meats, and sometimes small amounts of dairy. Bones are whole or ground depending on the company and organ meats include liver and kidneys. Raw diets come in many different forms. There are frozen raw diets, fresh raw diets, and freeze-dried raw diets. With a frozen raw diet, you just thaw the food, add some supplements and serve. A fresh raw diet takes a little more time commitment since you handle the raw meat, weigh the food, etc. With a freeze-dried raw diet, you add warm water, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and serve.

The FDA has phenomenal resources for those pet parents who wish to feed their fur baby a raw diet. Check the sources out here.

With paid influencers and great marketing advertisements, it is really quite difficult to choose a dog food these days. It is smart to do the research ourselves by reading the labels on each food we’re considering. Select a food that is species appropriate, designed for your dog’s life stage, consider any health conditions he may have, and his daily activity levels. Also, remember to follow the feeding instructions/guidelines on the food as well!

Again, if you are unsure about how much food or what type of food to feed your dog due to activity level, purchase your Fi Collar as soon as possible, download the Fi Collar app, and easily start tracking your dog’s daily activities.

Chelsea Evans

Chelsea Evans

Chelsea Evans is one of the founders, content creators, + editors of Gal's Best Friend, a lifestyle site for modern-day dog moms. She is the founder of Dirty Dog Oils.

New York, New York http://www.galsbestfriend.com