What Foods Can Dogs Eat?
Explore what foods can dogs eat safely. Find out a wide range of food options that are good for your pet’s health.
Food is a basic necessity of life, and we have all heard this statement since the first day of school. Likewise, as for humans, it is integral for animals too. We are all fond of keeping pets, and it is also vital that we have the best food available for them. If we are not feeding them the best food, they will not have a sustainable lifestyle, and adjusting to the surroundings will be difficult for them.
Well, right now, among all the domestic animals, people are fond of having canine friends. If you also have one, you might have asked: which will be the best food for dogs? If you have gone through this query, we have the answer for you. Let’s explore!
What Makes Dog Food “Good”?
Different factors are there that help you decide whether dog food is good or not. Important factors to know while choosing the best food for dogs include:
Check out the ingredients of the food. Ensure that the main ingredients are available in the required percentage and are also beneficial for dog health. Be sure to check out the fat and carbohydrate content to balance the dog’s diet.
Quality of the food
When we are choosing the best food, we cannot compromise on quality at all. The food you are choosing must not have any preservatives, artificial colors, or additional flavors. These are harmful to dogs and can lead to different gastrointestinal issues. Thus, always choose food that is best in quality and free from all these components.
Nutritional adequacy statement
Nutritional adequacy statements are also an essential factor of consideration. It helps you to know the complete information about the balancing of nutrition for maintaining adult dogs. Check out the AAFCO statement mentioned on the back and draw conclusions from it. These standards ensure that the food must be full of nutritional value for dogs.
Always choose the best brand
Choosing the best brand is also important. You cannot rely on new brands. Always choose those brands that have been in the market for a very long time and are known for serving the best quality food for dogs.
Nutrition in Dog Food
For dogs, food is the only source of nutrition. Therefore, food must have complete nutrition. Let’s discuss the factors determining the dog’s food nutrition:
Balanced and complete
The dog food you choose must be complete and balanced. In simple words, it means that it is a complete meal and provides total nutrition to a dog. The experts preparing dog food understand the requirements of nutrition required by their bodies and then design it. The nutrients, especially those required, are grouped into four categories: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, and independent amino acids.
Food must have all the important ingredients
A lot of ingredients are there, which must be right there in the dog food. These must be a source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, and all other nutrients. If the important ingredients available in dog food do not fulfill the above mentioned requirement, it is not the right one to choose.
Food must be low in calories
The best dog food you choose must be low in calories. High calories can make the dog obese and cause them to have some other health-related problems as well.
The following information will assist you in fully comprehending dog food nutrition. But still, a conversation with the veterinary is important.
Dog Food Myths and Misinformation
Some myths and misinformation are also present in the market when considering dog food. Let’s discuss some myths and facts in detail:
Myth 1: Homemade food is the healthiest option available
Homemade food is a healthy option, but not the only one. In the market, you will find different foods available that are safe and best for dogs as compared to homemade food. In some cases, homemade dog foods are the worst option to consider because they lead to gastrointestinal issues and some behavioral changes in dogs. Homemade food also lacks the essential vitamins and minerals that are required for the overall development of dogs.
Myth 2: A vegetarian diet is good for pets
A vegetarian diet is an average option for dogs as it is not sufficient to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the dog’s body. A well-balanced diet is important for overall development. According to research, dogs can survive on a vegan diet but that diet plan requires lots of effort to create. Also, dogs can survive on either non-veg or vegan but we prefer either you give them a mix of both. Or get a diet plan from your veterinary doctor or pet nutritionist.
Myth 3: Dry food is a good choice for dental health
Dry food is claimed to be the best choice for dental health, but it is a myth. Sometimes the food gets stuck in the animal’s teeth and leads to plaque and tartar buildup. But dry food somewhere reduces tartar buildup as well. But, of course, it entirely depends on the dog’s chewing habits as well.
Myth 4: A high protein diet leads to kidney failure
A high protein diet does not lead to kidney failure directly. According to research, protein sources having high biological value are responsible for producing few waste products and appear to be the best choice. For example, egg protein has the highest biological value and yet is a safe option for dogs.
Myth 5: Dogs prefer to eat only one type of food
Every animal loves to try different foods. Likewise, dogs are fond of trying different foods. Experimenting with a dog’s diet is a good option as it acts as a treat for them and lets their body function properly.
But make sure you treat your dog with adequate quantities of food only because feeding too much can lead to gastric issues.
Myth 6: Beans are not a safe option for dogs
This is a complete myth. Beans are safe for dogs in an adequate quantity. However, some beans are not safe, and an individual needs to learn about them before feeding those beans to their dog.
How to Read a Dog Food Label?
Well, a dog owner must be aware of how they will read the label of the dog food they are purchasing. If they have no clue how to read it, they will probably make a bad choice. Things you should know while reading a dog food label are:
Product names are the primary factor of consideration. This is not because the product name has any hidden truth. But sometimes, the manufacturers consider fancy names, which might confuse the consumer. Some customers are very particular about the ingredients in the food, so they simply buy it based on the name without considering any other factors. Therefore, don’t go for the fancy products available in the market. Instead, always keep the AAFCO rules in consideration. When you start reading the product name, you will see some other things are also mentioned. Have a closer look at it for a better understanding.
Net weight of the product
The net weight of the product indicates the quantity available in the package. Some FDA regulations are there indicating the size, placement, and format of the net quantity statement. Although it has nothing to do with those consumers who are not checking out the quantity statements, it does have an impact on the cost. For example, you will find some products on the market that are 10 oz in quantity but appear to be 1 oz or vice versa. Therefore, always choose the right product by checking out the product’s net weight and its cost.
Manufacturer’s name and address
The name and address of the manufacturer will let you know about the responsible party behind the quality and safety of the product. Be a bit wiser while reading the label as it will have different statements like:
- Manufactured by:
- Manufactured for:
- Distributed by:
All these three statements have a different meaning, so you cannot consider them one and all. Also, check out the city, state, and zip code information. According to rules and regulations, there must be a street address along with all the information mentioned on the product. On some products, you will see a toll-free number is also available that helps you get the answers to the queries if there are any.
The guaranteed analysis is about the percentage of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture available in it. The crude term indicates the specific method which is used for testing the product and not the quality of the ingredient itself.
It is about how they are noticing things. These are different for dog food and cat food, so you need to be sure of it. Guaranteed analysis has been declared according to the rules and regulations of higher authorities. Moreover, these also depend on the type of product you are purchasing. It is different for dry and canned products and others as well. A canned product typically contains 75 to 80% moisture, whereas a dry product contains only 10 to 12%. Convert the percentage and then get the actual idea of guaranteed analysis.
List of Ingredients
Ingredients available in dog food are listed on the pack along with their weight. The weight is indicated according to the amount that is added to the formulation. It includes the water content as well. It is critical in determining the relative amount of content in the dog food you are considering. When you start exploring the ingredient list, chances are some uncommon names will appear at the top, but don’t worry because these are the major ingredients available in the food. When you move ahead, some common or usual names are mentioned that you can easily understand. It also has information about artificial colors, preservatives, and stabilizers added to the food.
Note: Never choose food with a high quantity of stabilizers, preservatives, and artificial colors. These are harmful to dogs and can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Intended animal species (i.e., dog or cat)
Check out which animal species the food you are choosing is for. Animal food is according to the species you have. For example, different foods are available for dogs and cats, and you can choose from the following based on the breed or species: On the pack, it is clearly mentioned that this food is intended for that particular species, for example, dogs. Moreover, it is also mentioned whether the food is for puppies or for senior dogs.
Statement of nutritional adequacy
The nutritional adequacy statement indicates that the dog food you are choosing is complete and balanced. You will find different products on the market that claim to be balanced, 100% nutritious, and provide all the health benefits for your dog. Don’t trust these claims until and unless the statement of nutritional adequacy is there with them.
Along with the quality of the food, the nutritional adequacy statement indicates the age group of the dog for which it is suitable. In general, you cannot feed a senior dog with puppy food or vice-versa. It will be dangerous for them and interfere with their overall development.
Check out the feeding directions. The feeding directions are mentioned over the back after consultation with the veterinary doctor and according to the average size of the dog you own. If you have any specific breed or a dog that is very sensitive to food, make sure to have a conversation with the veterinary doctor.
The feeding directions include a lot of things like a place to start, breed it is suitable for, temperament, food intake, and so on. All the contingencies have been covered by the manufacturers while setting up the directions. But as a dog owner, you need to be sure of everything mentioned.
Pet foods available on the market greatly vary in calorie content. You need to check that out because the number of calories in the product is related to the amount of fat. If your dog is eating high-calorie food, this will be harmful to them. On the dog food pack, it is expressed as kilocalories per kilogram, so be a bit wiser and check that out attentively.
Types of Dog Food
Different types of dog food are available on the market. These are as follows:
Dry food is the most popular choice among dog owners. It is an economical type of commercial dog food that lasts for a long time, and there is no need to refrigerate it. It is helpful for a dog’s dental health because chewing dry food reduces tartar buildup. Be sure to read all the ingredients carefully and choose the brand wisely when choosing dry dog food.
Semi-moist dog foods are also available. These foods have the least nutritional value and have artificial flavors and colors as well. Also, this commercial dog food is majorly shaped like a burger, pork chop, or any other meaty food. Semi-moist food cannot be a regular choice for dogs because it can lead to gastrointestinal issues, and some behavioral changes may be noticed. It can be considered a treat only for them.
Canned food is also right there on the market and has a long shelf life. If you are fond of doing grocery shopping for your dog, you can easily find it. But understand that it is an expensive option available. Canine foods are a good option for your dog, but not every food is best. You need to be sure about the ingredients used and understand whether your dog is ready to adapt to the mentioned ingredients or not.
Mostly, these have 75% water, which indicates less nutrient content. If you rely on canned food, always choose those that claim to be 100% nutritionally complete and have a nutritional adequacy statement as well.
Frozen or freeze-dried food
In the supermarket, you will find raw food available in frozen or freeze-dried form. The food is in frozen form because it is more susceptible to bacteria growth. These foods are frozen to keep them safe and healthy. This is a very healthy and the best choice for dogs. But understand that this is an expensive option, and not every dog owner is ready to afford it.
Some dogs do not prefer to go out for market food; instead, they consider preparing food at home. They either choose the best fruits for dogs or beans for dogs that fulfill their nutritional requirements. These are less expensive than the alternatives on the market.
Raw food is also available on the market, and it consists of raw meat with some bones and organs mixed in it. It is a natural source of calcium and phosphorus. It is the best option for many dogs, but if your dog is an herbivore, then choosing the raw options will not be the choice. For herbivorous dogs, you can go for vegetables for dogs, and some other options are available.
Best Dog Food for Small and Large-Breed Dogs
For small and large breeds, different dog food options are available. It entirely depends on the dog breed you have and how you feed them. But in general, some common food options to consider for dogs include:
- Fruits for dogs
- Brown rice
- Beans for dogs
- Leafy vegetables
Note: All these food items are safe for dogs, but in an adequate quantity only. Likewise, it is the case with the best ready-made dog food you can purchase. Higher quantities can lead to an upset stomach, bloating, or nausea. Always have a conversation with the veterinary doctor and then decide which dog food you are ready to give them.
Why Is Dry Dog Food Best?
The benefits of feeding your dog with dry food are as follows:
Dental health benefits
Dry food is a great choice for dogs that have a tendency to try and swallow their food whole. Dry food is also less expensive than wet food, which means it may be a good choice for owners who want to feed their dogs a more nutritious diet but can’t afford to purchase wet food. It also prevents tartar buildup and secondary periodontal disease.
Dry food is a great option for dogs that are grazers. Many dog owners will feed their pets breakfast, lunch, and dinner, only to have the food spoiled because the pet didn’t eat all of it in one sitting. With dry diets, the owner can pre-portion the food so it will last for hours without spoiling.
Dry diets are generally less expensive to purchase and store long-term. This is because dry food contains the same nutrients as wet food but with less moisture. Dry food also has a longer shelf life than wet food, which can decrease the risk of spoilage.
Kibble is a form of dog food that is designed to be eaten quickly. Dogs are often left with nothing but kibble in their bowls for hours on end, which can result in boredom and health problems. Dogs with kibble-based puzzle feeders or slow feeders can provide dogs with an activity that challenges their minds, relieving boredom and improving the quality of life for all dogs.
Why Is Wet Dog Food Best?
The benefits of feeding your dog with wet food are as follows:
Higher moisture content
Dogs are naturally drawn to their environment, and it’s not uncommon for them to drink quite a bit of water. But if your dog is spending more time than usual near the water bowl, and if they’ve been drinking less than usual too, it may be a good idea to switch to wet food as a means of hydration. It will also prevent them from developing urinary or kidney disease.
Canned food can be more aromatic and have a flavor that some dogs prefer more. This may be one way to entice sick or older dogs to eat if their appetite declines.
Wet dog food is one of the most appealing pet foods on the market for many reasons. First, wet dog food tends to create a longer-lasting feeling of being “full.” Increased satiety is useful in weight management, especially in dogs that seem to have a never-ending appetite. Second, wet food can provide needed hydration.
Easier to chew
Wet food has more moisture than dry food, which makes it easier for dogs with dental disease or other oral abnormalities to chew. For these dogs, wet or canned dog foods are a better choice because they are easier to chew and swallow.
How Much Should I Feed My Dog?
While deciding how much food you should feed your dog, different factors influence the same. This includes:
Ideal weight is very important for dogs to maintain. If your dog is obese or underweight, that will be troublesome. Thus, be sure of the weight and then decide on the quantity you need to feed your dog.
On the food pack, you will see there is a chart available mentioning the quantity. This is according to the average activity level of the dog. By keeping the same in consideration, decide the quantity of food according to the activity level of your dog. Calorie intake, vitamin intake, and protein intake must be maintained for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, in simple words, your dog must not reach a starving state.
With increasing age, the nutritional needs of a dog change. For puppies, puppy food is available, and for senior dogs, senior formulas are available. The puppy food is focused on growth and development, whereas the senior formula focuses on sharpening the mind. Be sure to have a conversation with the veterinary doctor, too, before deciding on the right amount.
Daily Recommended Proteins & Fats in Dog Food
(Weight 12 lb, 33 lb at maturity)
(Weight 33 lb)
(Weight 33 lb with 6 puppies)
|Crude Protein||56 g||25 g||69 g /158 g|
|Total Fat||21 g||14 g||29 g/67 g|
Daily Recommended Vitamins & Minerals in Dog Food
|Daily Recommended Amount||Daily Recommended Amount|
|Calcium||1 g||Phosphorus||0.75 g|
|Magnesium||150 mg||Sodium||200 mg|
|Potassium||1 g||Chlorine||300 mg|
|Iron||7.5 mg||Copper||1.5 mg|
|Zinc||15 mg||Manganese||1.2 mg|
|Selenium||90 µg||Iodine||220 µg|
|Vitamin A||379 µg||Vitamin D||3.4 µg|
|Vitamin E||8 mg||Vitamin K||0.41 mg|
|0.56 mg||Riboflavin||1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.4 mg||Niacin||4 mg|
|4 mg||Vitamin B12||9 µg|
|Folic Acid||68 µg||Choline||425 mg|
Note: These are the recommendations according to the average weight and age of the dog. For better understanding, do have a conversation with a veterinary doctor.
So to Conclude
Choosing dog food may appear to be a simple task, but it is not. A dog owner needs to be sure about a lot of aspects, like age, breed, habitat, and so on. If these factors are not considered while choosing the dog food, it will not be a good choice for the dog. Also, be sure of the brand you are choosing. Some local brands also claim to be the best dog food on the market, but in reality, the opposite is true. Thus, be responsible and choose the best dog food by keeping every factor under consideration and with the advice of the veterinary doctor.
Fruits are a very healthy food option for dogs as these are nutritious and work as tasty treats for your canine.
Vegetables can also be a part of your pet’s diet. Just find out which one your dog prefers to eat and which one is healthy.
Dogs are omnivores so you can feed your pet selected non-vegetarian food items along with other veg options.
Dairy Products for Dogs
Dogs can eat dairy products like milk, yogurt, curd, cheese but try to keep consumption in moderation. Also, check for allergies and the digestive capability of your dog.