There are so many different types of dog food on the market today and deciding what type of food to go for is difficult; do you stick to one type or do you go for a variety?
Choices include wet or dry, cooked or raw, fresh or tinned
Your dog can even eat vegetarian, vegan, or insect protein foods!
It is important to make sure we don’t over-feed our pooches
Whatever we choose, we need to make sure it is good quality, suitable for your dog’s age (life stage) and breed, and preferably an approved commercial food as these have been assessed to make sure they have the right amounts of the nutrients your dog needs
First things first, we want a good quality, commercial dog food that suits your canine companion’s life stage and breed size.
But what do we mean by commercial?
Commercial dog food is essentially a ready-made food - it is carefully balanced to provide your dog with the correct amount of protein, fibre, fat, vitamins and minerals that they need to stay in tip-top condition. This is in contrast to a home-made diet which can be extremely tricky to get right. Preparing a well-balanced meal for your dog is not as straight-forward as preparing a meal for your family; it’s a little less Jamie Oliver and a little more ‘Potions Class at Hogwarts’.
Among our commercial diets we have wet food, dry food, raw food, vegetarian food, grain free food and, new on the scene, insect-based food! All of these foods can have a seat at the table, it’s a lot of personal preference as to what suits you and your dog best. What we should aim for though is a complete food, as opposed to a complementary food. We also need to be mindful that if our pooches like variety and we want to mix and match we should be careful to check the feeding guides to avoid over-feeding! Some foods are richer than others and some foods are more energy-dense than you might expect meaning the volume you need to feed is quite small.
We mentioned complementary food just now, so what’s that all about?
A complementary food is one that isn’t completely nutritionally balanced on its own - it needs a helping hand from a complete diet to fill the bill. It’s worth noticing that a lot of complementary foods can look a lot like complete foods - take Mixer biscuits for example, they are a little bit to dogs what cereal is to us - designed to fill you up but perhaps not what you should eat for every meal despite what your toddler suggests!
Wet foods are very popular as dogs tend to like them - they smell amazing to dogs and are easy to eat. However, they’re more expensive per portion and tins left open will go off quickly. Wet food can be fed in a Kong or similar toy to provide enrichment - you’d be surprised how much your pooch enjoys working for his dinner!
Dry foods are handy as you can buy a larger bag, the portion size is smaller and they typically cost less per portion. They have the added advantage of contributing to dental health with all that crunching! Dry food can also be used to help keep our pals entertained instead of chasing the hoover - use a snuffle mat or puzzle feeder to keep them occupied while you work!
Raw feeding is becoming increasingly common and can be done very well if you opt for a commercial food that is balanced and suitable for your friend’s breed size and life stage. Preparing a raw diet at home is just as complicated as with a cooked home-prepared diet; it’s a challenging thing to get all of the nutrients just right and usually more hassle than it’s worth. Our only real word of warning when it comes to raw food is to be careful feeding raw diets where dogs are in close contact with young children. There is always a risk of salmonella or campylobacter (food poisoning bugs) spreading from the food bowls or a sneaky doggy kiss to your kids.
Raw feeding is one side of the coin, the other side is if you’re vegan or vegetarian and you’re wondering if your dog can be too? These days it is actually possible with the newer prescription hypoallergenic dog foods that are soy-based. You will rarely see dog food that is branded as vegetarian or vegan so it is best to ask your vet how best to go about sourcing these and whether they are appropriate for your dog.
So, you’ve read all of this and still feel that you’d like to offer your dog something different, something a little more like home-cooked food? That’s ok too, there are options available commercially that mean you don’t need to become a doggy dietitian and turn your kitchen into a scene from Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares! Often these diets come as a delivery to your door and are typically fresh-frozen or refrigerated; they’re designed for even the fussiest canine customer and are definitely an emerging trend in doggy nutrition.
Stay tuned for some more in-depth articles on the pros and cons of each type of diet for your pooch! And as always, if you have any questions, the MyDogDoc vets would love to chat!