by Don Anderson
We all want the best for our dogs just like we want the best for ourselves. In this day and
age there are a ton of choices for us to make about what to feed our pets, but what is the
best choice? I have spent a lot of time on the internet, reading dog food labels and talking
to owners and vets about what we should be feeding and what we shouldn't be feeding them.
Even after all of this, there are times when I get confused. One thing that will help is
just using your common sense.
All dogs are different and have different needs just like people. Active dogs will require a
dog food that is higher in crude protein and fat. Dogs that hunt, working dogs, and dogs in
colder areas would need the higher protein and fat. If you have one of these types of dogs
but do not work or run them a lot you may want to switch to a lower fat and protein dog food
to prevent your dog from becoming over weight.
Many of the dogs today are housedogs and do not receive the amount of exercise that is needed to
burn away the extra calories they ingest. It is very important to watch the crude protein and fat
your dog is taking in. We try to stay around 21% crude protein and 12% crude fat. We have also cut
back on the amount we serve to our dogs due to the fact they are not as active and do not receive
the maximum exercise that would justify the amount of food they receive.
By feeding your pet a high quality dog food you will help keep him or her healthy. And keeping the
extra weight off will help keep your pet alive longer. In the December 2003 issue of Dog Fancy
there is an article by Kyra Kirkwood about keeping the weight off your dog. The article cites a
study done by Nestle Purina Petcare. What they found was that "slimmer dogs lived longer" and were
much healthier. The Labrador Retrievers in the study that received 25 percent less food intake lived
"13.5 years where the other Labrador Retrievers lived 11.2 years". Many of the dogs also displayed
fewer "early-onset signs of ageing such as graying muzzle, difficult mobility and less lean muscle
The sad part of it is that we are the ones to blame. Our pets are not the ones to blame since they
cannot open the can of food or turn the doorknob to open the door to serve themselves food. Except
for the occasional food your big sweety swipes from the table or counter we are the ones feeding
our dogs to death.
How do we prevent this? Get your dog out and get them some exercise! It may be as simple as going
into the backyard and throwing the ball for 20 minutes a day, going to the dog park a couple times
a week, or showing your dog the town by taking him for a walk.
The next step is to watch how much you are feeding. If it looks like your dog is starting to put
weight on, slowly cut back on the amount you are feeding or switch to a lower protein and calorie
At this point you are saying but what is the best dog food? There are several good brands of dog
food. And you may have access to some that are only sold in your region. This is what I look at
when selecting a dog food: meat listed as the first ingredient. The first three ingredients tend
to make up the principle components of the dog food. If you can find a dog food that has a type
of meat listed as the first couple of ingredients you are probably looking at a very high quality
dog food. Corn, wheat, gluten and soy are generally inferior sources of protein. They are often
difficult to digest and used by the body but you will find them in almost all dog foods. Try to
avoid brands that have their meat source as their second and third ingredients. I have also tried
to avoid any preservatives and dyes when possible. Some companies market several brands with
different quality levels so look at them all. One product may have meat as the first three
ingredients where another brand by the same company won't.
Some of the dog foods we have used are Diamond, Authority, Natural Choice, and
Flint River Ranch.
Remember if you have any questions or concerns always talk to your vet, they are a great source of
information. If your dogs eating habits change very suddenly do not hesitate to contact your vet.