Proper pet nutrition is extremely important. Gone are the days of simply feeding leftovers or scraps, or popping down to the supermarket to pick up the cheapest brand of dog food you can find. Proper pet nutrition has gained significant momentum over the last decade and millions of dollars have been spent by companies on research to uncover the absolute best way to provide your dog with all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients that it needs to live the longest, happiest life possible. Think of humans for a moment. Over the last thousand years our life expectancy has climbed dramatically. This is due to a myriad of factors including better technology, medicine and research all geared towards helping us to live longer, healthier lives. Nutrition has played no small part in this as well, and the same principles ring true for our beloved four legged friends. Our dogs are living longer, and with a far better quality of life than previously possible.
No matter what food you decide on it is important to do a little research and speak to trained professionals about the pros and cons of each diet. Food can these days be broken down into a few categories. Of course there are dry and wet varieties, but there are now very different qualities of food available from supermarket quality, to premium and upwards to super premium. There are organic diets, and ‘All Natural’ choices. There are grain frees, hypoallergenic, skin and coat health foods, dental diets and the list goes on and on. This can be daunting when looking at a seemingly endless wall of different brands and types and can leave you feeling disoriented and overwhelmed by choice. Here are a few pointers to help you out.
There is little need to worry about the hundreds of different varieties available once you have made an educated choice on the type of food you will feed your dog. Personally, we at Caloundra Garden and Pet Supplies don’t really mind what kind of food you go for, but we would always prefer the high quality brands. They are definitely more expensive at first glance, but perhaps not as much as you think. Although a super premium food can retail for over $100 for 15-20 kilograms, it is important to note that the quality of these foods makes them much more nutrient dense than cheaper varieties. This means that you need to feed your dog much less than the supermarket alternative due to the much lower percentage of ‘filler’ ingredients such as cereals. This results in the better brands being utilised far more effectively by the dog and digested more easily and to a greater extent. Think about this… if a food is 90-95% digestible, than there is only a few percent left to come out the other end. This results in much smaller, firmer stools, with less mess and less smell. This is only one of the benefits. In almost all super premium foods the number one ingredient will be a high quality protein, rather than a random selection of available meats.
Next time you look at the ingredient list of your dog food, you may notice that one of the ingredients is ‘meat and meat by-products’. Then in brackets you will see a list of different meats contained within including chicken, beef, lamb, turkey etc. The problem is that you never know exactly which of these are contained within or how much percentage of each there is. Super premium diets on the other hand are generally speaking a set recipe bag after bag, which changes little or not at all. If it says chicken, it will always be chicken, and it will be a great source of quality protein. They are also complete diets, which means that, if you choose, you can feed these foods to your dog from the day it is weaned to the day (hopefully very far in the future) that it goes to that big dog kennel in the sky, and it will receive every nutrient, vitamin and mineral that it requires.
If this is the case and your dog is receiving excellent nutrition for it’s entire life, than one can reasonably expect that over the course of the dog’s life it will be healthier and stronger resulting in fewer vet bills and skin and digestion problems, which can also save you many thousands of dollars. These are all massive benefits. If you decide to go super premium, you will almost always notice an increase in skin and coat health and colour. This is a great visual indicator that the food you are giving is of a high quality.
Now all you have to do is decide which kind of super premium food you should buy, but it’s fairly simple when you know what to look for. Many brands will break food down into small and large breed varieties, for puppies and adults. Dental varieties will contain a larger biscuit size relying on a bigger ‘crunch’ to help wear away plaque and tartar build up. Skin and coat bags will often substitute chicken as a protein source in favour of lamb, or fish. And senior varieties will contain glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and mobility as well as a lower fat and protein content. So talk to a staff member and decide which one suits you best and see the benefits almost immediately. It will be well worth it for you and for your four legged friend.