• Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

The Importance of Quality Nutrition for Your Pup’s Health


Feb 14, 2024
dog food

When it comes to caring for our furry friends, what we feed them matters. After all, food is fuel – it impacts energy levels, disease resistance, weight, digestive health, skin and coat condition, and more. That’s why choosing the right dog food is so important.

But with so many options on the market, it can get overwhelming. How do you know which foods are best? That depends on your individual dog and their needs at different life stages. However, all good dog foods have a few things in common.

Quality Sources of Protein

As carnivores, canines thrive on diets with quality animal-based proteins. Look for whole meats, meat meals, fish, and eggs among the first few ingredients. Ingredients like “poultry by-product meal” are less nutritious and may include organs and beaks.

Avoid plant proteins like corn, wheat, soy, and rice when possible, as dogs don’t metabolize these well. Some vegetable ingredients add fiber and nutrients, but meat should make up the bulk of protein sources.

Avoid Fillers That Offer Little Nutrition

Cheap pet food brands bulk up their recipes with plant-based fillers that offer little nutritional value. These include corn, wheat, soy, white rice, millet seed, and oat hulls. They can even irritate sensitive digestive systems. Pay close attention to the ingredients list and the order ingredients are listed. The first five offer the largest amounts, so quality animal proteins should dominate.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients

In addition to protein sources, good commercial dog foods include a blend of vitamins, minerals, Omega fatty acids, glucosamine, probiotics, antioxidants, and more – all things dogs need in balance. These vitamins help supplement any gaps in nutrition, support immunity, keep the skin and coat healthy, maintain joint flexibility, aid digestion, and provide overall wellness. Life Stage Formulas Tailored to Your Dog’s Needs Puppies, adults, seniors, and nursing mothers all have different nutritional requirements. That’s why the best dog food brands offer formulas tailored to different life stages with ingredients to support those needs.

For example, puppy diets have higher protein, fat, and calorie amounts to fuel growth and development. Meanwhile, senior dog foods are lower calorie with glucosamine for joint health.

Health Condition Recipes

If your dog struggles with allergies, joint issues, digestive troubles, or other conditions, specialized dog food recipes can help. Limited ingredient formulas reduce allergy triggers. Sensitive stomach diets improve gut health with gentle fiber and easily-digestible carbs.

Your vet can suggest health condition diets tailored to your pup’s unique issues so they can feel their very best from the inside out.

The Importance of Feeding Trials

Reputable pet food companies conduct rigorous feeding trials on their formulas. During these trials, real dogs eat the food as their sole diet for 6-12 weeks under veterinary supervision to monitor effects. This testing helps confirm that nutrients levels meet AAFCO standards and that dogs thrive when eating a formula long-term. Passing trials indicate safety and quality. Now that you know what to look for in a worthwhile dog food, where do you find the best options? Keep reading for top picks your pooch is sure to love.

Best Dry Dog Foods

If you’re seeking a nutritious kibble packed with premium proteins and superfoods, these dry dog foods provide balanced nutrition dogs thrive on.

  1. Open Farm Grain-Free Dry Dog Food With locally-sourced cage-free poultry, wild-caught fish, and farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, Open Farm recipes provide quality nutrition. Available in unique protein-packed flavors like beef, pork, turkey, salmon, and more that dogs love.
  2. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free This salmon and sweet potato formula packs Omega fatty acids. Whole grains provide fiber for digestion while dried fruits and veggies offer natural sources for vitamins and minerals. Plus it’s affordably priced.
  3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free With a proprietary LifeSource Bits cold-formed process preserving nutrients and antioxidants, Blue Buffalo Wilderness formulas provide a boost of nutrition packed with proteins and superfoods

Best Wet Dog Foods

If your pooch turns up their nose at dry food or you want a meal topper adding moisture, give these tasty wet dog foods a try.

  • JustFoodForDogs Pupsicles These frozen raw nutrition nuggets provide the convenience of easy portion meals with the benefits of a frozen raw diet for gentle nutrient preservation. Pupsicles eliminate meal prep while still offering veterinary-formulated recipes.
  • NomNom Fresh Cooked Meals Cooked fresh with restaurant-quality ingredients under a board-certified veterinary nutritionist then flash frozen to lock in nutrients, NomNom meals offer balanced homemade recipes dogs love. Choose from beef, chicken, turkey, and even some veggie meals.
  • Purina Beyond Grain Free Pate Wet Dog Food Each recipe features real meat or poultry as the number one ingredient including options like beef, chicken, salmon, or lamb and vegetable blends. The formulas have added vitamins, minerals, glucosamine, and guaranteed live probiotics for digestive and immune support.

Best Freeze-Dried & Dehydrated Foods

Dogs often go crazy over the taste and texture of these limited ingredient raw meal mixers and freeze-dried nuggets. They make nutritious treats or additions to kibble.

  • Sojos Complete Beef Recipe This mix offers USDA grass-fed beef, organic superfood fruits and veggies, coconut oil, turmeric, and probiotics. Just add water for a nutritious raw food. It eliminates prep work while still offering the benefits of a gently freeze-dried raw diet full of moisture and nutrients.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Quality proteins like meat, fish, and eggs should be the main ingredients in good dog foods.
  2. Avoid fillers like corn, wheat, soy, and white rice that offer limited nutritional value.
  3. Vitamins, minerals, Omega fatty acids, glucosamine, probiotics, and antioxidants are important additions in quality recipes.
  4. Tailor food to your dog’s life stage with puppy, adult, senior, or nursing mother specific formulas.
  5. Specialized recipes can help dogs with allergies, digestive issues, joint problems, or other health conditions.
  6. Reputable brands conduct feeding trials to confirm safety and quality.
  7. Some top recommended dog food brands include Open Farm, American Journey, Blue Buffalo, JustFoodForDogs, NomNom, Purina Beyond, and Sojos.

Why is dog nutrition so important?

Proper canine nutrition provides the building blocks for health and happiness. As carnivores, dogs need diets high in quality proteins for muscle growth, organ function, disease prevention, energy, and more. Carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and other compounds also play key roles related to coat, skin, weight, joints, immunity, digestion, and nutrient absorption. Poor nutrition leaves them deficient while too many fillers and byproducts can irritate digestive systems. Meeting nutrient needs with balanced, meat-rich diets supports your dog’s wellbeing in the long-term.

How often should dogs eat?

Most healthy adult dogs do best with two meals per day on a consistent feeding schedule. Puppies may need three or even four spaced-out small meals supporting growth. Meanwhile, seniors who are less active can do well with just one daily meal if preferred. Sticking to a routine allows time for food to digest in between which prevents issues like bloat. Dogs also thrive on consistency. Just be sure daily calorie counts meet unique needs based on age, size, activity levels, etc. Consult your vet with questions.

What human foods can dogs eat?

Lean meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts in moderation, yogurt and oatmeal are healthy people foods dogs can also eat. But no chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic or excess sugar/fatty foods. Introduce new ingredients gradually and watch for allergic reactions or upset stomach. Also avoid cooked bones, salt-heavy foods, any moldy/spoiled leftovers. While sharing treats often comes from love, a balanced species-appropriate diet should provide what pups really need for meals. Ask your vet about safe snack options.

Is grain-free dog food better?

Despite marketing claims, there is no proof grain-free dog food is healthier. The FDA has linked some grain-free diets to canine heart disease from alternative starches used in place of grains. Unless your dog has a sensitivity, whole grains like rice, barley and oats are fine carb sources. More important is choosing quality animal proteins as the main ingredients over cheap fillers that can irritate digestion. Each dog has unique needs based on breed, size, age and health issues. Talk to your vet about tailoring nutrition rather than assuming grain-free equals better.

How do I transition dog food properly?

When changing your dog’s food brand or formula, allow at least 5-7 days to transition recipes slowly. This prevents digestive upset. Start by mixing 75% old food with 25% new, gradually decreasing old while increasing new in each portion daily until fully switched after a week. Closely monitor stool consistency, energy levels, and behavior for signs of reactions requiring slower transitions or diet changes. Puppies do best staying on one formula until at least a year old unless directed otherwise by your vet to support development. Gradual transitions apply any time you must swap recipes.