You can walk into a pet shop or do a quick search online and there are now hundreds of different diets for your dog. From specific breed diets to age stage diets to even vegan diets. It can be very overwhelming to know what to feed your puppy or dog. As vets there are a couple of key elements to look for in a dog food.
The most important is the health of your dog and how the diet suits your pet. There are some diets that may not suit your dog, often you can find the faeces is loose or their coats loose condition. It must be remembered that one diet does not fit all, a bit like us humans. There are many people with certain dietary intolerances such as wheat or dairy. There has been studies that have shown that the coeliac disease has been diagnosed in a certain line of Red setters, meaning they cannot tolerate gluten. There is also a syndrome called Epileptoid cramping syndrome that is seen in certain border Terriers again induced by wheat gluten. Both of these conditions are relatively rare and can be difficult to diagnose. But It goes to show the important role diet can play in your dogs’ health.
This is a topic that many vets can discuss for hours on end and not all of them will agree which diet is best, the simple answer there is a not a specific diet we could class as being the bets. So what do you look for?
It is important to feed the right stage of diet to the right age of dog. For example puppies need to have the right ratio of calcium and phosphorus as they grow. Feeding a complete nutrition which is tailored to puppies is very important. As they get older this can be changed to an adolescent food and eventually an adult diet.
Looking at the protein content can be useful when your dog is an adult. If they are particularly hyper often a food slightly lower in protein may suit or you may notice your dog seems to be a bit calmer. If your dogs’ faeces are not perfect – i.e. “kickable” is always a good description for your dogs’ faeces, then sometimes an increase in the fibre content of the diet can improve this or may help if your dog suffers from anal gland issues.
Check the packet of the dog food and look at the meat content of the food, if there is a high meat content this maybe a higher quality food rather than having a higher percentage of the food made up by cereals.
These are just a few tips to check with your dogs’ food but we always encourage you to contact your vet and have a discussion about your dogs’ diet. If you ever consider changing your dogs’ diet we recommend this is done over the course of a week gradually increasing the new diet and reducing the percentage of the old diet fed. This is to try to allow time for the gut biome to adapt to the change in the food.
There are many questions often about feeding raw food to dogs. This is a controversial topic again as vets we all have differing opinions on raw feeding. IF you have any questions about this we would advise you speak to your vet as there are many potential issues surrounding raw feeding both as a health and safety viewpoint for the owner and the dog.