Only within the past ten to fifteen years dog owners have developed a true awareness of dog nutrition needs. Prior to the 1940s commercial brand dog foods were not widely available and people cooked for their dogs: meat for country dogs, and a mixture of meat, rice and vegetables for the more refined urban dogs. It was thought at the time that feeding an all-meat diet caused dogs to be more “savage” and that the mixed diet contributed to the development of more civilized dogs.
When commercial dog foods became widely available they were touted as being “modern”, much like fast food for people: easy, convenient and reflective of an improved standard of living that left more time for leisure. Still, some forty years later in a 1993 survey, 50% of Americans fed their dogs a steady diet of “human foods”, as opposed to canned or packaged dog foods.
In recent years nutrition awareness for both humans and pets has advanced dramatically, particularly with regard to processed foods. It’s now commonly accepted that the healthiest foods for people are whole foods: those that 1) have the least number of ingredients and 2) have ingredients that you can recognize and pronounce. The “unpronounceables” are typically chemicals and additives with no nutritional value.
And it turns out that what’s good for us is good for our dogs, too. Like humans dogs are omnivores; they require foods of both plant and animal origin. Until recently many dog foods were corn-based, meaning that corn was the first ingredient listed on the package (ingredients are listed from highest amount to lowest amount.) A healthy diet for dogs should be a meat-based diet, with meat listed as the first ingredient–and not meat by-products.
According to PetMD.com, when purchasing dog food, under the GUARANTEED ANALYSIS the protein content should be at least 30% and the fat at least 18%. The only preservatives should be Vitamin C and/or E, and Omega Fatty Acids should be present. Optimum nutrition for dogs means that protein, carbohydrate and fat, along with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and enzymes) are balanced.
In the world of dog food, higher price is correlated with higher quality. If your best friend has any health conditions ask your veterinarian for recommendations, since your dog might require something different or extra. And if you’d like to learn more about dog nutrition, training or any aspect of care, please contact us.