One good thing about dogs as opposed to cats is that dogs aren’t obligate carnivores. This means they don’t have to eat meat to stay healthy, so their diet can be more varied. Some dogs are vegetarians! But one drawback about dogs is that they come in so many shapes and sizes their nutritional needs differ from breed to breed. Dog owners often find themselves having to endure a bit of trial and error before they find food that’s the best for their dog.
Some dogs thrive on kibble fed a couple of times a day, but for other dogs it’s not enough. Owners can get advice on what to feed their dog from breeders, animal shelters or their veterinarian. They can ask people who work in pet supply stores and of course go to the internet. They can also research the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which sets standards for companies that make pet food. The bad news here is that whether the pet food company adheres to the standard is optional, though most of them do. If they are, the owner will see an AAFCO statement on the can or bag.
To complicate things, some dogs are allergic to different foods, even some forms of meat. Dogs who have food allergies sometimes develop skin disorders like rashes, hives and hot spots, which are painful, warm areas on their skin. Some dogs, after eating certain foods for a long time, suddenly become allergic to them. All the owner has to do then is change the diet. Dogs that are given too much protein might develop kidney disease in their old age, while large breeds like Great Danes can develop bone problems if they had too much calcium when they were puppies. Puppies of toy breeds have to be fed highly nutritious, frequent meals to stay healthy and avoid hypoglycemia.
Basically, a well balanced canine diet has protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. Most owners will feed their dogs commercial dog food instead of homemade dog food. Commercial dog food is generally dry or canned, and both have what dogs need. Kibble has the water removed from it, which makes it crunchy and gives it a longer shelf life. It’s also less expensive than canned food, is higher in fiber and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Canned food still has its moisture, so it has to stay in a can until it’s used. Because it isn’t dried, it keeps more vitamins and enzymes, is easier to chew and helps keep the dog hydrated. Some owners mix kibble and canned food together.
Whatever diet the owner chooses, if they have an energetic, healthy dog with bright eyes and a glossy coat, they’re probably doing the right thing.