A Few Words,
If you are passionate about your furry buddy like I am, then at some point you will end up looking into the best dog food to feed them. If we are what we eat, then no way can some of these weird ingredient dog food brands be any good. What you may have also realized is that the dog food debate can be pretty overwhelming. Whether you are looking into kibble, canned, home cooked or raw, there are so many conflicting points of view. Not really surprising when you stop to think about it. This stuff is confusing for people!
So, I am going to talk about dog diets. And, before we get started I want to say up front, no matter the choice, there are positives and negatives with every option. That does not mean that there are not better choices. I will share my opinion, which is based on real-life experience as well as my research. I hope this helps you feel more confident on what to feed your four-legged family member, as well as makes them happier and healthier.
What is the best dog food for our beloved companions? This is a question that many of us ask and are often overwhelmed by the abundance of opinions.
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Just like humans, I believe that the key to a healthy, well-balanced diet in dogs is variety-i.e., not strictly kibble. I would never eat the same thing day in and day out for my entire life. Why should our dogs?
Is It Safe To Only Feed Your Dog Kibble?
The FDA's answer is YES. My answer is “not necessarily.” The Food and Drug Administration(FDA) regulates all commercial dog food and dog treats. “The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.”
READ MORE: The FDA's Regulation of Pet Food
Here is my issue though. The FDA states that “There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval.”
If you dig a little deeper into this, you will find some significant red flags. For example, the FDA considers grains to be safe, but there have been numerous studies that show our grains are contaminated with mycotoxins.
Mycotoxin is a toxic substance produced by a fungus, particularly mold, that infects our grain crops worldwide. There have been several published mycotoxin surveys of commercial pet food. These studies show that mycotoxins have been found in concentrations high enough to pose a serious health threat to pets.
In 2018, BIOMIN – an animal nutrition company that develops and produces feed additives, premixes and services for healthy and profitable animals came out with a scary infographic. They found that 80% of samples tested in North America contained an extreme risk of mycotoxin contamination.
These mycotoxins are extremely dangerous to dogs because the majority of us feed them kibble day in and day out. Therefore, we may be unknowingly exposing them to these toxins.
Dr. Karen Becker discusses the symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning in pets.
“The severity and type of symptoms your dog or cat displays depends on the amount and type of mycotoxin ingested. Some of the more common symptoms associated with mycotoxicosis include:
- Loss Of Coordination
- Increased Heart Rate
- Lack Of Appetite
- Increased Body Temperature
- Muscle Tremors
“Mycotoxin poisoning is a true medical emergency, and your pet will need immediate treatment and hospitalization. Your veterinarian must take early and aggressive action to remove the toxic substances from your pet’s body. Most vets may not correlate these symptoms to mycotoxins in pet food, so make sure you voice your thoughts if you suspect your pet has been poisoned by her food.”
Personally, what I gather from all this information is that we are not doing our pets any favors by feeding them cheap, corn/grain filled food. If you are going to feed your dog kibble, make sure to choose kibble that is high-quality and grain free.
My pick for over ten years has always been ACANA Grain Free dry dog food. ACANA is an authentic dog food. It is never outsourced meaning everything is prepared in their own kitchens. This way, they are able to oversee every detail of food preparation and you know exactly where your food is coming from. Besides being grain free, they use fresh meats and whole fruits and vegetables. Rocket has been on ACANA for over 10 years.
Why You Should Feed Your Dog Fresh Vegetables
We have all heard at one time or another not to feed our dogs table scraps. Well, that isn't necessarily true. There are many “human foods” that are not only safe but scientifically proven to be healthy.
A 2005 study conducted by Purdue University showed that adding certain fresh vegetables to Scottish Terriers diet at least 3x per week may prevent or slow the development of TCC (bladder cancer.)
Those powerful vegetables are leafy greens and any yellow-orange veggies. Think broccoli and carrots. This research is enough to convince me that I should include organic, fresh veggies in my dog's diet.
While many human foods are safe and beneficial to dogs, not all of them are harmless. Be sure to read: Toxic Food For Dogs.
What Is Human-Quality Dog Food And Why It's Worth It
Companies are selling more and more dog food labeled as “human-grade” or “human-quality.” Human-Grade means that all the ingredients are edible for humans.
This food is typically a bit more expensive but I think it is worth it because you are getting a food that is free of by-products, rendered meats, preservatives or artificial anything.
My favorite option is PetPlate. Vets design their balanced recipes and use USDA meat and fresh produce. When you look at their food, you can recognize each ingredient, unlike kibble. Their food comes pre-cooked in pre-portioned containers delivered to your door which makes them super convenient. Additionally, their product goes through multiple tests before leaving the USDA certified facility ensuring the food is healthy and safe.
The first thing I noticed when we tried PetPlate was how amazing it smells. Everything is fresh and looks exactly the way it should. I heated the food in the microwave for Rocket's meal one night and my husband came home and asked what I was making because it smelled so good!
If you are looking for an all-natural and healthy alternative to kibble, we highly recommend trying PetPlate. Because it does cost a bit more money, you also have the option to get PetPlate half as often and use it as a yummy mix-in to your dog's kibble. That way, your pup is still able to get fresh, quality ingredients daily.
The Problem With Making Homemade Dog Food
Many people choose a homemade and/or raw food diet. While this can be a good option, you have to do your research. It's quite challenging to design a menu that is nutritionally complete and balanced.
Studies have shown dogs that are fed a homemade diet may be lacking critical nutritional ingredients. Additionally, fatal salmonellosis, pansteatitis, and other problems can arise from homemade or raw diets.
Making Sense Of It All
At the end of the day, you have to put something in your pup's bowl. Here is what I choose to do in my home:
My dachshund, Rocket eats an array of food. My motto is “high-quality food, rotation, experimentation and variety.”
The backbone of his diet is Acana Grain Free dry dog food to make sure he is getting all of his essential nutrients. Acana has an excellent reputation, and they are consistently ranked as one of the best dry dog foods available.
I feed him slightly less than what the vet recommends, and I add in fresh vegetables and some blueberries. He loves broccoli, carrots, green beans, celery and pumpkin.
About three times per week, I will mix PetPlate into his kibble for breakfast. This is Rocket's favorite dish. He goes completely nuts when he gets this concoction, especially when I heat it up.
Want to spoil your pup too? Try PetPlate and get 25% off! Click HERE!
For Rocket's treats, I love to give him cut up carrots or apples. I also enjoy making homemade treats. Here are some of my favorites:
Other Factors To Keep Your Dog Healthy
Just like humans, we know more than ever that what your dog eats has a high impact on their health. While nutrition is a significant contributor to your dog's health, it's certainly not the only one. Exercise, diet, breed, genetics, health care and the environment all play an essential role in your dog's health.
I believe that you should try and buy the best dog food you can afford. For me, spending more money on Rocket's food is worth it, because without his health, what does he have? With the right diet, exercise and a lot of love, you and your beloved companion will enjoy each other for many years to come.
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Tell me, what do you feed your pup? Any favorite treats you want to share? Let us know in the comments below! ♥
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