At TGDS, we believe the key to a happy life starts with a healthy diet. A well-balanced, nutritious diet is a major component of preventative medicine in both humans and animals. We get a lot of questions from clients regarding dog nutrition, particularly wondering what is the best food to feed.
Recently, there has been a surge in dog foods claiming to be natural, holistic, grain-free, and organic. So, what does that all mean? Foods claiming to be “natural” use natural preserving agents, and no added colors or flavors. The term holistic is simply a marketing technique and has no implications for the ingredients in the food. Holistic pet food companies may have personal philosophies regarding nutrition that are admirable, and may lead to a great product, but legally there is no requirement for the term ‘holistic’ in pet food. Grain-free foods exclude the use of corn, soy or wheat. Corn, soy and wheat are cereal grains that can be used as protein fillers in dog foods, and can also cause food sensitivities. Grain-free foods use other carbohydrate sources such as potatoes and rice that may not cause the same allergic reactions as cereal grains. Organic pet food has to adhere to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program regulations.
Dogs should be fed a species-specific diet, according to their age, size, and activity level. Choose what is best for your dog. Do not choose a food based on fads, trends, clever marketing or long-standing history. Think about your dog’s needs and lifestyle and do some research. If you have a lazy couch potato dog, a grain-free high-protein diet might be overkill for that lifestyle. If you and your dog are very active, that diet would be appropriate for your dog. The food should be AAFCO approved. The first ingredient in the food should be a specific meat source (chicken or beef vs. animal product). Stay away from foods where cereal-grains make up the primary protein source. Avoid foods with lots of preservatives and color-additives. Some pet owners choose to make homemade food for their dogs. This can be a great option, but be sure to consult a veterinarian as dogs have specific nutrient requirements that may be lacking in poorly homemade diets.
Monitor your dog always. Even if your dog has been eating the same food for years and seems fine to you, evaluate critically. Dogs’ nutritional needs change as they age, and dogs can develop food sensitivities to foods they’ve eaten for years. Symptoms of food sensitivity include gas, goopy eyes, stinky or infected ears, bad breathe, diarrhea or loose stool, chronic infection of fleas or worms, and tartar buildup on the teeth. If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms take a look at the ingredients in their food. Beef, chicken, corn, wheat, cow’s milk, soy, eggs, and fish are the most common allergens in dog foods.
TGDS offers a variety of foods we trust in our pet boutique. We offer foods that our own staff use and/or are familiar with, and work with companies that are responsible and ethical. TGDS staff members are constantly educating themselves on dog nutrition and are happy to offer handouts or consultations. Come to us with any questions or concerns and we will point you in the right direction!