Welcoming a four-legged fuzz ball into your home is cause for celebration indeed! Did you know that kids who grow up with a dog are 50% less likely to develop asthma? There is also evidence to show that your little ones could do better at reading too. What’s more, both kids and grown-ups tend to report lower stress and increased fitness levels when there’s a doggo in residence.
Once you have chosen the right dog for your family, it is not just about cuddles, walkies and heart-melting puppy eyes (although there will be lots of those). Taking good care of your new friend is vital, and one of the most important things to get right is their daily meals. Take a walk in any major supermarket, and you will be bowled over by the amount of dog food on offer in the pet aisle. Head to specialised pet shops or take a look online, and your options can feel like they are endless.
With so much to choose from, it can be daunting to try and craft the ideal diet for your pup.
Read on to learn more about all the different options and also check out our tips for owning a dog.
The most commonly found dog foods tend to fall in these categories and are suitable for adult dogs, senior dogs and puppies.
By far the cheapest and most convenient dog food out there is dry food (also known as kibble). This type of food is made up of dry, biscuit-like pellets. With a long shelf life and no preparation, it’s easy to see why it has traditionally been the most popular option. However, there is growing concern among the dog community that the highly processed nature of dry food makes it a poor choice for your dog’s health.
Cat owners will be very familiar with wet food! Wet food comes in cans or pouches and is often found in chunk form or a pate form (which normally needs to be mashed up by you). As you might imagine, wet food has a much higher water content than dry food. As a result, wet food is a great choice for dogs who don’t visit their water bowl enough; however, the higher water content replaces nutrition and calories, so you may need to feed Fido more to get him the nutrients he needs.
Wet food is pasteurised, so it is shelf-stable (while sealed) like dry food. The pasteurisation process involves incredibly hot temperatures, and there are concerns that this destroys the natural goodness in the food.
Steadily gaining in popularity, a raw diet is one of the latest trends in canine nutrition. The thinking is that the diet of domesticated dogs should more closely resemble what their wild counterparts would have eaten. For example, a good quality beef raw dog food will contain about 80% meat, offal and bones. Because dogs can also benefit from certain fruits and vegetables, you will also find these in the ingredient lists of raw diets.
A large driving factor for this type of food has been concerns about the processes needed to make wet and dry food mentioned above. As the name suggests, raw food is minimally processed and isn’t cooked. This type of food is typically frozen at the source; portions can then be defrosted overnight in the fridge for you to serve up to your fur baby.
Probably the least well known of your dog food options, fresh food, as the name implies, is food that is made fresh. While a handful of niche companies sell fresh food, it is much more of a DIY option. It is the most labour intensive of options, but the benefit is that you know exactly what your dog is getting and can tailor it to suit their needs.
If you regularly cook for yourself, why not pair Rover’s meals with your own? The first recipe in this list gives directions for a tasty human and dog dinner!
Owners of dogs with severe allergies, health concerns or complex nutritional needs may feel most comfortable with this option, but it will require some serious kitchen time as it is a bit more complicated than simply serving up a plate of boiled chicken.
Lastly, and in some ways, most importantly, you need to be aware of the differences between complete and complementary foods. Pet food is almost as strictly regulated as human foods are. The European Pet Food Industry is responsible for ensuring dog food meets certain standards in terms of content and labelling.
Complete foods have been judged to be nutritionally balanced and will give your dog all the nutrients they need without having to feed them anything else. Feeding a complete food gives you peace of mind that your loveable ball of fur is getting everything they need. Using your dog’s weight can calculate how much food they will require each day as part of a balanced diet.
Complementary foods do not meet the same nutritional requirements of complete foods. Items such as treats, meal toppers and mixer biscuits fall into this category. Fed on their own, your dog’s diet will lack certain essential nutrients and vitamins. Much like human treats, treats for your pupper could contain high levels of sugar and additives that could cause problems down the road if they have too many of them. Foods labelled as complimentary must be served in conjunction with something else to keep your loyal friend healthy.
If you aren’t sure what the right food is for your dog, why not ask for advice from your vet or even the organisation or breeder from whom you got your dog. You might want to seek out a veterinary nutritionist to craft a custom plan for you if your dog has complex needs.
Whatever you decide to serve up for their dinner, follow good hygiene rules. Use clean bowls, properly store and prepare all food, and make sure there is access to clean and fresh water.