Have you ever noticed that when our pets are not feeling their best that we too often manifest both psychological and physical effects of our own? When my old golden retriever mix Sammy was suffering from all of his horrible arthritis of the knees, hips, and back, I would often feel sad or depressed and at times would even cry thinking about all the pain he must of been experiencing. I recall lying on the floor with im just trying to console him, or maybe I was just trying to console myself. Of course, the arthritis he had is very prone to larger dogs and there wasn’t really a lot to do except treat the pain.
What can we do for our pets?
Probably the first and one of the most important things we can do is provide our dogs is a good quality food. Oh where to start? The shelves and internet are chock-full of food choices and most of them claim to be the best. How are we to choose? Dry, moist, raw? After doing quite a bit of research, I am still somewhat perplexed but I did learn a few key things to look for in terms of complete nutrition. According to the Association of American Feed Control guidelines, dog food should contain meat, grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Dry, moist, or raw?
There are some very strong opinions out there on this topic and they all have very valid points so how do we choose the best option? Of course as with most anything, it is subjective to the individual dog’s needs. Older dogs may require moist as their teeth are probably not what they once were, and some dogs may simply just do better on a dry diet. The one that I particularly have an issue with is the raw diet. Unless the raw food is sourced from a wild animal such as venison or perhaps wild duck, there are just too many issues with livestock agriculture. There are so many documented cases of meat becoming contaminated with pathogens and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted a two-year study that concluded raw diets are much more likely than any other type of pet food to transmit food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria moncytogenes. The laboratorian in me just thinks this doesn’t make much sense. Personally in my household we feed a combination of both good quality dry and moist foods.
What the deal with bone or meat meal?
Some believe that these “meals” are the leftover part of the animal and they may have less nutrition or even be bad for our dogs. This is a huge misconception as they are simply a rendered, or cooked, product to destroy the harmful bacteria before heading to the manufacturing plant. It has most of the water content removed so what remains are primarily proteins and minerals that is ground down to produce uniform sized particles.
All about grains
Over the past few years there has been a growing concern over grains. People tend to think they are bad and can cause a whole host of ailments and issues but that typically just isn’t the case. Unless you poor pooch is grain allergic or intolerant, dogs just like us need grains in their diets. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber according to WebMD. Dogs metabolize them quite well and they are important source of energy. Like their human counterparts, dogs do best with the whole entire grain that contains all elements of the plant itself. It is advisable to stay clear of foods that do not contain the whole grain as it may not have the complete nutrients. Traditionally, most dog food contained corn or wheat but there are many dog food that contain a variety of different types of grains. So please don’t skip on this vital piece of nutrition.
Do your homework
So with all this being said, do your homework, talk to your veterinarian, and READ THOSE LABELS! I used to buy dog food pretty much based on cost alone but after my veterinarian said the particular popular brand I was feeding my poor old Sammy was the equivalent of feeding fast food every day, I started to wise up. Yes, some brands are quite costly but there are many affordable good quality brands out there. We want our fur babies to live their best life possible so let’s be responsible pet owners and do our part to help them out along the way.
Have a pawsome day and hope for some great belly rubs!