Unravelling the Mysteries of Dog Food
The old saying, "You are what you eat" applies to pets as well as people. The difference is, that people should know how to select the foods that are best for them. Our pets rely on us to make the best choice on their behalf. To maintain optimum health, avoid obesity and increase longevity, it is imperative that you choose your dog's food wisely.
Canned, Dry or Semi-moist dog food?
Canned dog foods are primarily protein with some fat and very little carbohydrates. They have 75-per cent moisture content because the primary ingredient is meat, which naturally contains 75 per cent water. Because they are meat-protein-based, canned dog food is more expensive than dry. In some clinical illnesses, canned is preferred over dry as it is more palatable and may be more easily digested.
Dry dog foods are primarily carbohydrate (cereals), not meat-based, and contain only about 10 percent moisture. (This low moisture content is needed to keep the kibble from going moldy.) Many people satisfy their own need to offer their dog what they believe is a more palatable diet by mixing canned and dry products together. Some dogs like it if you add warm water to moisten dry food. When you dog chews dry kibble, it helps scrape his teeth and gums and, therefore, dry food is better for dental health. When choosing dog food, bear in mind that chewing is an important part of a puppy's growth. Dry food is crunchy and studies have shown that eating it may help fulfill some of your dog's need to chew.
Semi moist foods are about 40 per cent water but they contain a lot of sugar to give the chewy consistency. Much of the attraction of semi-moist food come from the dog owner's point-of-view, is simply esthetics. If it looks more like real meat we perceive the dog will like it better. However, the biggest disadvantage to feeding semi-moist dog food is that the sugar is an unnecessary ingredient and it can contribute to dental problems.
Health Mutts ~ The Raw Diet
In your search for the perfect dog food, you will come across products that are declared to be "natural"or "holistice diets". The trend toward what is perceived to be more natural feeding is due, in part, to a desire to eat more holistic and organic foods ourselves. Be forewarned that a pet owner feeding uncooked meats to his dog must be vigilant in the food preparation and storage. Raw foods can spoil and may contain deadly bacteria, such as salmonella.
"The challenge to feed balanced raw and natural diets to captive feral canines, such as wolves and foxes, is something that even professional zoologists with decades of experience struggle with," says Dr. Jim Atkinson, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Guelph and a member of the CVMA Pet Food Certification Technical Sub Committee. "Be certain the diet you choose is backed by sound research before embarking on a radical new feeding program. Quality control is of utmost importance."
Marcie Campion, former chairman of the Technical Committee for the Pet Food Association of Canada agrees. "Consumers should be aware that "homemade" diets may not be complete and balanced," says Campion. "Most pet owners choose to buy commercial dog food because it is easy to store and feed and they know it is nutritionally balanced."
So, What's best?
Atkinson stresses the importance of keeping an open mind when you are trying to decide how you will feed your dog. Recognize that dog food advertising is designed to appeal to you, not your dog. Remember, there is no single right or wrong way to feed dogs. A creative ad campaign doesn't necessarily mean the dog food is right for your pet.
Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin