All dog owners wish to provide their dogs with the healthiest dog food, but there are so many options for commercial foods that it can get pretty confusing. It is becoming increasingly popular for dog owners to prepare their dog’s meals from home.
1. Organ meats
They are a great source of protein, as well as vitamins B1, 2 & 6, magnesium and natural fats. Healthy organ options include the kidney, liver, heart, trachea, lung and brain. The liver should be fed in small amounts as it can cause diarrhea if fed too often.
2. Rice (white and brown)
If your dog has ever been ill, you will know that white rice and boiled chicken is recommended. White rice is easy to digest and doesn’t irritate the stomach. In a healthy dog, brown rice is best as it provides carbohydrates, iron, fiber and vitamins B3 & D.
3. Sweet Potato
Boiled or baked sweet potato is packed full of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, and vitamins A, B6 & C. These essential minerals are vital for several bodily functions including energy production, maintaining a healthy immune system and regulating body fluids.
4. Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are packed with antioxidants that help fight cancer and other diseases. They also provide fiber for digestive health, as well as vitamin A, which supports eye health; vitamin C for immunity; beta-carotene for skin health; potassium for heart health; folate for brain development; magnesium for muscle strength; lutein for cardiovascular health; and choline for brain cell maintenance.
It may seem a staple food for dogs, but it is one of the best protein sources thanks to its low-fat content and ease of digestion. Chicken also provides omega 3 and 6 which keeps the skin and coat healthy, plus various vitamins and minerals for healthy digestion, immune system and heart function.
Salmon is an excellent source of fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. These nutrients help to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Salmon also contains B vitamins, which help with brain function and energy levels.
Eggs are a superfood for humans, but they’re also a great food for dogs. They provide amino acids to build muscle and repair tissue, calcium to strengthen bones and teeth, biotin for cell growth, and riboflavin for energy production. Eggs are also high in protein, which is essential for every dog’s diet.
Pumpkins are another superfood that you should give to your dog on a regular basis. Not only do pumpkins provide lots of vitamins and minerals, but they also contain fiber to aid digestion and help clean out the colon as well as prevent urinary tract infections. Pumpkin seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, which helps with coat health as well as brain function.
9. Natural or Greek Yoghurt
Natural or Greek yogurt is full of probiotics that help maintain your dog’s digestive health. It also contains calcium which is essential for strong bones and teeth.
10. Green Beans
Green beans contain vitamins A, K and C, plus iron, copper, magnesium and protein. They’re a good source of fiber too, so they can help keep your dog’s digestive system running smoothly.
11. Raw foods
Raw food is the best food for dogs because it’s natural, easy to digest and contains a lot of vitamins and minerals. The best raw dog food brands are made from simple ingredients like meat, bones and organs with no added chemicals or preservatives.
The most popular type of raw dog food is freeze-dried raw food, which comes in patties that you can add to your dog’s regular meal. You can also make your own homemade raw meals for your dog by grinding up chicken or beef along with vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes in a blender or food processor.
Raw meat has many benefits for dogs because it provides them with all the nutrients they need to be healthy, including protein, fat and vitamins A & E. Dogs who eat this kind of diet often have shinier coats and fewer digestive problems than those who eat processed foods!
Lamb contains high quantities of iron and zinc, which are important nutrients for growing puppies. As with beef, lamb also contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
What is the healthiest way to feed your dog?
What you feed your dog depends entirely on your dog. There is no ‘one size fits all’ food. Your dog may have allergies or a sensitive stomach. They may have a long-term illness that requires careful dietary management.
If you are feeding commercial dog food, the absolute best options are those that use fresh, local ingredients and a slow cooking process. This means the ingredients will be high quality and will not have lost many nutrients during the production of the food.
Natural brands also avoid using filler foods that dogs do not digest well. They also do not use any artificial additives or preservatives, you know there are no nasties.
You may decide that you want to prepare your dog’s meals yourself. This is a good option, but you need to be sure that you have the ratio of ingredients right to ensure your dog is getting enough nutrients and calories for his age and size.
Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the ideal daily meal sizes for your dog and how best to prepare them. For example, chicken and turkey are great protein sources and they are lean meats, which means they have a low-fat content and are easily digestible.
You will also need a carbohydrate source such as sweet potato or brown rice, plus fruits and veggies for all those essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
How much should I feed my dog?
How much you feed your dog is based on their age, weight, activity levels and whether they are neutered/spayed. Young, active dogs require more calories than an elderly dog who only goes for short walks.
The ideal amount of food is just enough to keep a dog in hard muscular condition. You should be able to feel his ribs beneath a thin layer of fat just under the skin.
Follow the guidelines on the dog food packaging or, if you are preparing the food yourself, ask your veterinarian who will be able to advise you. Under or over-feeding can cause serious health problems for your dog.
You should monitor your dog for any weight loss or gain and adjust their portion sizes accordingly. If your dog does not show any weight fluctuations, then you are feeding them the right amount.
Weigh your dog once a month after giving him roughly the same amount of food every day. If he starts gaining weight, although already fully grown, he is being fed too much. If he loses weight, despite good health, he is underfed. It is better to underfeed slightly than to give your pet too much.
A dog’s appetite should be kept keen. If a healthy and well-fed dog will not eat what you know is a good, palatable and varied diet, then do not tempt him with special titbits, let him go without until his next meal is due. He will eat when he is hungry and a healthy dog will not be hurt by going short now and then.
A dog will usually eat all the food he needs in 10 minutes (and often in two). If he is given too much it may remain uneaten after this period. It is always best to remove it and offer no more till the next meal is due when fresh food should be given.
Manufacturers of canned dog foods provide helpful tables of the amounts required by various breeds of dogs. The general rule for calculating how much food your dog needs is to allow 15g of food per day for every 450g he weighs, with perhaps less for an older dog.
Dogs are opportunistic by nature and will overeat if given the chance. Pampered house pets often get too many little feeds between meals: filling them up with cakes and doggie chocolates only adds to their calorie intake and causes them to suffer increasing discomfort as they gain weight.
What can I feed my dog instead of dog food?
Variety is important because that way you are more likely to ensure adequate supplies of vitamins and minerals.
Fresh meat is better given raw. Never feed cooked chicken bones as they splinter easily and can become a choking hazard or cause internal injury. Besides, provide some sort of roughage, wholemeal rusks, biscuits, and dog meals. Fiber is necessary to help the passage of waste products through the intestine. The best sources of fiber include flaxseed, pumpkin, kale, and broccoli.
Fish, milk, eggs, and vegetables are other useful basic dog foods, but remember that any new food should be introduced gradually. A meal should be roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of meat and the remainder an equal quantity of vegetables, fruits, and cereals for an adult dog.
Should I feed my dog table scraps?
With scraps, there is no planned diet and you don’t know what nutritional value you are feeding your dog.
Scraps in many cases are made up mostly of cooked bone and dogs do not digest cooked bones well. This is not widely known. Besides the obvious fault of feeding chop or steak bones, they can do damage to the esophagus (throat) or gastrointestinal tract.
It is common to get dogs, particularly older dogs, with severe constipation brought on by cooked bone not properly digested. This is expensive to relieve. Ordinary laxatives are completely ineffectual and the bony mass has to be broken down bit by bit inside the rectum. There can also be damage to the lower bowel caused by chips of bone.
You should also be mindful of giving non-meat foods from your plate. We cooked our meals using cooking oils, herbs and spices which can cause stomach upset for dogs. Only vegetables that have been boiled can be given as table scraps. Many veggies, including carrot, broccoli, spinach, kale and sweet potato are healthy for dogs and provide a lot of nutritional benefits.
Should I feed my dog meat only?
Meat has a high level of fat and dogs can handle this quite well – if you have a deep freeze which you are prepared to devote almost entirely to your dog.
For the growing larger breed of dog, meat has a bad imbalance or bad deficiency of calcium in relation to phosphorus.
It is necessary for the growing dog (being fed a 50 percent or all meat diet) to have a diet supplemented with calcium carbonate or gluconate. These are calcium supplements, and carbonate is the cheaper of the two.
Additionally, in the growing dog, dicalcium phosphate or alternatively sterilized bone meal is needed to provide a sufficient total of calcium and phosphorus to calcify their fast-growing bones properly.
For a natural source of calcium, it is healthy and safe to feed raw meaty bones. This includes the neck, wings and legs. Beef is the more traditional choice, but if you can get turkey, duck or rabbit these too can be fed raw on the bone. Larger breeds can be fed an entire rabbit or bird as a meal.
A lot of people incorrectly feed their dogs a straight meat diet. Dogs fed on such a diet without calcium supplements will have more brittle bones than dogs fed with a properly balanced diet. They will be more obviously susceptible to bone changes and to fractures.
Conclusion of the best food to feed your dog
Dog food is an important factor that determines your dog’s health as well as his behavior. So you should choose the best food for him. Here are a few tips to follow while buying dog food:
- Read the label properly before buying a particular brand. Look for a statement that indicates the food is balanced and complete. This means it contains all the essential nutrients required by your dog in the right proportion.
- Avoid artificial preservatives like propylene glycol and BHT, as they can cause cancer and other health problems. The best choice is to look for natural preservatives like tocopherols and citric acid that are safe for dogs.
- Always buy from reputed brands listed on the association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) website or companies that have certified nutritionists on their payrolls so that you can be sure about the quality of the product.