Humans always say “you are what you eat,” and the same is true for dogs. Most dog owners are becoming more aware of what they’re feeding their pups, and they’re looking for reliable information on how to feed their canines the best quality food they can afford.
So, what types of dog food are available? How can you find a good dry food? What about canned, homemade and raw foods? We’ll help clear up some of the confusion, so you make sure you’re buying your pup the best food you can afford.
Types of Dog Food
Today, you’ll find just as many different types of dog food as people food, but most will fall into one of five categories:
- Canned: As you may have guessed, this food comes in a can. Some dog owners simply call it “wet food.” It’s moist, and dogs tend to prefer the wet stuff over the dry stuff. Canned food is usually more expensive than dry food.
- Dry: Dry food is the dog food of choice for most owners. It’s economical, shelf-stable and easy to feed. These foods have low moisture content, so you’ll need to make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available.
- Semi-moist: Semi-moist foods usually come in pouches. These are soft pellets that are chewy and delicious to dogs. In most cases, semi-moist foods are considered treats and not complete meals.
- Raw: Many dog owners are following the raw food trend and feeding their dogs real, raw foods. Typically, these are diets that are put together by the owners themselves, and commercial products are usually avoided. However, you can find frozen raw dog food in many specialty pet or health food stores. For more information on feeding raw – visit BARFWorld.com (BARF = Biologically Appropriate Raw Food).
- Homemade: Like the raw food trend, some owners are opting to feed their dog homemade food. These foods may be cooked or raw, depending on the diet the owner is following. Foods like chicken, vegetables and brown rice may be included in the meals.
How to Find Good Dry Dog Food
Dry food has been demonized in recent years. Most of the bad press is linked to the recalls in tainted food that killed many dogs or made them very sick. How can you know which dog food is safe for your furry friend? Which foods offer the best nutrition?
The best place to start is the ingredients label. Like with human food, ingredients at the top of the list are the most abundant.
These are the ingredients you want to see at the top of the list:
- Meats: Chicken, turkey, fish, duck, bison, lamb and other meats should be the first ingredient on the list.
- Whole grains and/or Fruits and Vegetables: There’s a lot of controversy over grains in dog food. Dogs have no nutritional need for grains, but it’s difficult to find dry foods that don’t contain them. Try to avoid foods that contain corn or wheat, and opt for foods that contain brown rice and other whole grains instead. Fruits and vegetables may also be used in place of grains in high-end foods, but not all dog owners can afford this option.
- Fats and oils: Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are great for dogs. Olive oil and chicken fat are also healthy fats that will contribute to your dog’s overall health.
The first few ingredients of the food will paint a picture of how healthy the food is. They should be recognizable and healthy for your canine friend. High quality dry food may cost more, but your pup won’t have to eat as much and he’ll likely make fewer trips to the vet later on in life.
What’s the Best Canned Dog Food?
Just like dry food, you need to pay attention to the ingredients label to determine if a canned food is a healthy choice for your dog.
What should you be looking for? Foods that are rich in meat and free of artificial preservatives, fillers and by-products. If you want to go a step above and beyond, choose foods that are USDA-approved. This means that the food is, essentially, the same food that humans eat.
Look for canned foods that have few ingredients and no grains. If you can’t afford grain-free, make sure that grains aren’t the main ingredient in the food.
Homemade Food for Dogs
After the 2007 melamine-related pet food recall, many dog owners went back to feeding their pups a homemade diet. Some went raw, while others cook the food.
Every dog is different, but a homemade diet can be just as healthy (if not more healthy) than a commercial food diet. It just needs to be properly balanced.
- Fatty acids
To ensure you’re feeding your pup a healthy, balanced diet, it’s best to work with a professional who’s trained in dog nutrition. Whether you’re feeding your dog raw or cooking his meals, a professional will give you recipes that will meet your dog’s nutritional needs.
No one type of dog food is right for every dog. Consult with your vet to find a diet and food that works well with your pup’s digestive system and gives him all of the vital nutrients he needs to live a long, healthy life.
VIDEO: Dog Dog Cat Distinguishing Types of Pet Foods
George Richter of Dog Dog Cat gives a quick simple guide to the five types of dog food available today. In this short video learn some pros and cons of the five varieties and how to recognize quality pet food from the many poor choices being fed to most dogs and cats today.
Here’s a quick rundown of the types of dog food covered.
- Kibble: Dry – Convenient, safe & stable. One of the easiest for pet owners.
- Canned – Good when great whole ingredients as the main sources.
- Dehydrated – Just add water, human-grade & organic ingredients. Easy to digest.
- Freeze-Dried – A new trend, similar to feeding raw, but more stable/convenient.
- Raw – Sold frozen in most stores; human grade – as close as it gets to a biologically correct diet.