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Every dog breed is unique in terms of appearance and temperament, but all dogs have one thing in common – they require a nutritious and well-balanced diet in order to remain healthy for as long as possible. Choosing a commercial dog food diet for your pet can be difficult because there are so many options to choose from. In shopping for a diet for your dog you need to consider the items on the ingredients list as well as their amount and proportions. To ensure that you choose a healthy diet for your dog, take the time to familiarize yourself with the nutritional needs of dogs before you shop. Below you will learn the basics about the nutritional needs for dogs – you will also learn about some special considerations to keep in mind when feeding your dog. You will also receive recommendations for several top-quality commercial dog food products that would be ideal for your dog.
Nutritional Needs for Dogs
Like all living things, dogs require a balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates in their diet. When it comes to protein, animal-based sources like fresh meat, fish, and eggs are always preferable to plant-based sources. Animal proteins are much more biologically valuable for dogs, though plant-based proteins are not necessarily bad for your dog. In addition to fresh meats, you should also check the ingredients list for meat meals. Fresh meats contain 70% to 80% water which means that, once they are cooked down, their actual volume is much lower than it once was. Meat meals, on the other hand, have already been cooked down to a moisture level around 10% – this means that they are a much more highly concentrated source of protein than fresh meats for your dog.
In addition to protein, your dog needs healthy fats in his diet – a blend of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is best. Like protein, fats should come from animal-based sources like chicken fat and salmon oil. Plant-based fats like flaxseed and canola oil are not harmful to your dog but, again, they are less biologically valuable than animal fats. Fats are the most highly concentrated form of energy available to your dog and they help to keep his skin and coat heathy. Small-breed dogs require higher levels of fat in their diet to maintain their fast metabolisms. Large-breed dogs should only be fed moderate amounts of fat to prevent them from gaining an unhealthy amount of weight.
After protein and fat, your dog also needs carbohydrates in his diet. Dogs do not have specific requirements for this macronutrient, though it is best to come from digestible sources like whole grains or fresh fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates provide your dog with dietary fiber as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. A healthy commercial diet for dogs may contain vitamin and mineral supplements in addition to protein, fats, and carbohydrate. Look for chelated minerals like calcium pantothenate – these minerals have been chemically bonded to protein molecules, making them easier for your dog’s body to absorb. You should also look for prebiotics and probiotics which will help support your dog’s digestive system.
Special Considerations for Feeding Dogs
When shopping for a commercial dog food diet for your dog, you should always take into consideration your dog’s size. While individual dog breeds do not have drastically different nutritional needs, there are differences in the nutritional requirements for small-breed dogs versus large-breed dogs. Small-breed dogs have very fast metabolisms which means that they need a diet that is high in energy and nutrients. Large-breed dogs have slower metabolisms but they still have high calorie needs due to their size. Commercial dog foods formulated for small-breed dogs are energy-dense and usually made in smaller kibble sizes. Large-breed formulas are designed with optimal levels of protein and fat to maintain lean muscle mass without making the dog gain too much weight.
In addition to thinking about your dog’s size when shopping for a commercial dog food, you should also think about whether or not he is at risk for food allergies. Any dog has the capacity to develop food allergies, but certain breeds are more prone to allergies than others – some of these breeds include boxers, cocker spaniels, Dalmatians, German shepherds, collies, dachshunds and miniature schnauzers. If your dog is known to suffer from food allergies your best bet is to switch him to a Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) for 12 weeks or until all signs of the allergy disappear. Then you can introduce potential allergens one at a time until you identify the culprit. At that point you then simply need to feed your dog a diet that is free from that allergen.
Top-Recommended Foods for Dogs
If you need some help in finding the right food for your dog, consider one of the commercial dog food brands discussed below.
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken and Brown Rice Adult Recipe
The Blue Buffalo pet food company is known for using the best ingredients and for providing a wide variety of options for pet owners. Blue Buffalo offers four different lines of dog food products – the Life Protection line, the Freedom line of grain-free foods, the Basics line of Limited Ingredient Diets, and the Wilderness line. The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken and Brown Rice Adult Recipe is a great choice because it contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, and brown rice as the top three ingredients followed by barley, oatmeal and chicken fat. This formula is made with high levels of protein and moderate levels of both fat and carbohydrates. It also contains glucosamine to promote bone and joint health plus Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which are made with a proprietary blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
2. Artemis Fresh Mix Adult Dog Formula
The Artemis pet food company follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition, using only the freshest, high-quality ingredients in their formulas. Artemis offers a variety of different products for small-, medium-, and large-breed dogs as well as special formulas for puppies and senior dogs. If you are looking for a healthy commercial diet for an adult dog, consider the Artemis Fresh Mix Adult Dog Formula. This formula is made with chicken, chicken meal, turkey, barley and brown rice as the top five ingredients. Other notable ingredients include oatmeal, millet, chicken fat, and peas. This formula is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics, plus it offers a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
3. Natural Balance Ultra Premium Whole Body Health Venison, Turkey Meal, and Lamb Formula
The Natural Balance pet food company was founded in order to provide pets and their human companions with “food for a lifetime”. This company produces high-quality pet foods that are based on sound scientific principles and nutritional truths. The Natural Balance Ultra Premium Whole Body Health Venison, Turkey Meal, and Lamb Formula is loaded with healthy proteins including venison, turkey meal, and lamb meal. It also contains animal fats like chicken fat and menhaden oil, plus digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and potatoes. This formula is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics for healthy digestion. As an added bonus, this formula is gluten-free which makes it a great choice for dogs that suffer from food allergies.
4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Kibble
The Nature’s Variety pet food company offers two different product lines – the Prairie line of holistic diets and the Instinct line of grain-free and raw foods. If you are looking for a nutrient-packed diet for your adult dog, consider the Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Kibble line of products. These kibbles provide complete and balanced nutrition for dogs in all life stages with options for small and toy breeds. This line of products comes in five different flavors – chicken, beef, lamb, duck, and venison – so you can choose the option that best suits your dog’s preferences. Every formula combines Nature’s Variety’s high-protein kibble plus freeze-dried raw bites to ensure high-quality nutrition.
5. Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe
The Wellness pet food company is devoted to providing pets with balanced nutrition to fuel healthy growth and development. Wellness offers a wide variety of products for dogs of all sizes and in all life stages. The Complete Healthy line of dry foods offers many different formulas for adult dogs and puppies, including small-breed and large-breed specific formulas. The Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe is a great option because it is packed with animal proteins and fats like deboned chicken, chicken meal, and chicken fat. It offers the perfect blend of nutrients including essential vitamins and minerals – plus, it is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy bones and joints.
In order to keep your dog happy and healthy for as long as possible you need to make sure that his nutritional needs are being met. Offering your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet is the key to prolonging his life.