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Finding the Right Food for Your Dog

By Jenn Becker, CPDT-KA

Sometimes choosing a food for Fido can be a bit… overwhelming. Walking into any pet store and strolling through their dog food section only is a small glimpse at all the options available and leaves any owner asking a multitude of questions. Which brand do we get? Do we get grain free? What flavor? What about doing a raw diet? Well I am here to help you narrow down your search.

Did you know?

The most common allergens in dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, and wheat? If your dog is scratching or has red/pink skin try switching to a food that doesn’t include one of these allergens.

Finding a Good Fit for Your Budget

We all want to spoil our pups and give them the best, but sometimes it seems like the really good food is too out of reach. That’s okay because there’s an easy way to tell how good a food is just by looking at the bag. A good food will have a protein, not protein meal, listed as the first ingredient.

Going Grain Free

One theory is that wolves don’t eat grains in the wild and therefore dogs shouldn’t be able to digest them either. That is actually believed to be false. Even though wolves don’t eat wheat and starches, it is believed that dogs evolved alongside humans and developed that ability.

The other theory is that grain free diets are leading to an increased risk of developing a heart condition. That is true, but only if the food is using peas, lentils, potatoes, chickpeas, and beans. Grain free foods are good for pets that have grain allergies or might just be a picky eater.

Going Raw

Another new trend that is rising in popularity is the raw food diet but this, like the grain free trend, has been controversial. Many working dogs, including sled dogs and greyhound racers, have thrived off of raw diets. They have done well on these diets because of their benefits: healthier teeth, skin, and coats, more energy, and smaller stools. However there are risks to feeding raw as well. Both the dog and the owner can become sick from bacteria that may be in the raw meats being fed. Doing the wrong balance of meat, veggies, fruits, and bones can harm the dog’s health for an extended period of time. Dogs can also break their teeth or damage the digestive track from breaking apart and swallowing bone fragments.

The Take Away

Finding the right food might take time and research. A good way to start is knowing your price range. Ask your vet or the employees at the store for a recommendation. If your pet is having a lot of problems with foods you’ve tried, look for a certified nutritionist to help you along with help from your vet.

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