WHAT'S FOR DINNER? Golden Retrievers love to eat...we all know that, and they depend on us to make sure their daily meals are nutritious and safe. Since most of our dogs eat the same food day after day after day, providing them high quality food and keeping them at the appropriate weight are the two most important things we can do to insure our furry best friend a long and healthy life.
There are literally hundreds of brands and varieties of dog food and the choices are overwhelming. You might be tempted to believe that the manufacturers of these foods have your dog's best interest at heart. But be aware; most of the dog foods displayed in expensive, adorable TV commercials are consistently rated as the worst dog foods available. With all the choices, it is increasingly important to educate yourself about the ingredients in your dog's food and to buy the most expensive dog food you can afford. Although the price may initially seem outrageous -as much as $2.00 a pound- owners soon discover that because of the high nutritional content they can feed less, and the dog's improved health eliminates costly trips to the vet for skin and ear problems. High-quality dog food cannot be found at the grocery store or big-box discount chains. However, specialty pet stores and pet superstores offer many premium foods of excellent quality.
The best way to determine the quality of your pet food is to carefully read and understand the label. While reading the label, ask the following questions: Does the food use high quality ingredients? Is there a quality meat source as one of the first two ingredients? Better yet, are the ingredients human-grade? Is the bag dated for freshness?
Look for the Ingredient Statement on the label.
Read the first 5 ingredients. They play a significant role in the nutritional make-up of a food.
What are the protein sources? Meat, meat and more meat products is what you should see. Dogs are carnivores, and a species appropriate diet for these animals must be based on meat. They have no evolved need for carbohydrates in their diet. The primary source should come from quality animal protein, not vegetable protein or grain. Foods that list 2 or more grains in the first 5 ingredients may have more vegetable protein than animal protein.
What about grains? Grains are in pet food because they're cheaper than meat products, and are needed to hold the kibble bits together, not because they're species-appropriate nutrition for a carnivorous mammal. Two or more grains listed in the first 5 ingredients means your food may have more vegetable protein than animal protein. Grains such as soy, corn, corn gluten and wheat gluten can be difficult to digest, which means less nutrition and more clean up.
Are there by-products? Some manufacturers consider by-products inferior sources of protein and, depending on the source, they can be difficult to digest. Foods containing any form of by-products, most especially those of indeterminate origin (“animal”, “poultry”, etc.) should be avoided.
What about artificial additives? Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives – especially those believed to be carcinogenic or that are banned from use in the human food chain should be avoided. In dog food, principally these are BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate. NOTE: Some ingredients, usually fish products, may contain artificial preservatives that are not disclosed on the ingredient list; if they are not added by the manufacturer, they are not required to be listed. Look for manufacturers that assure their products use only ocean fish that do NOT contain any artificial preservatives.
What are the fat sources? Some fats are better than others. The primary fat source in dog food should be animal based because animal fats contain a profile of fatty acids that are easily digested, Meats and fats that are not identified by species should be avoided. These could literally be anything, and are almost certainly of very low quality.
Example - compare the two package labels below. Food A is an example of a high quality, premium dog food. Food B is a very low quality food. (Note: Food B is a big seller because of the very effective advertising campaign. One canine nutritionist compared this food to feeding your dog cotton candy!)
These food brands are high quality and easy to find:
Natura Brand (makers of Innova and Evo) Nature's Variety Wellness Pinnacle Merrick Acana
Many nutritionists recommend switching BRANDS and flavors of dog food every 2-4 months to assure the dog is eating a wide variety of nutrients. Avoid food with “exotic” proteins such as rabbit, pheasant, emu or venison unless prescribed by your vet. These meats are not needed for healthy dogs and if the dog needs them down the road to treat a medical condition it is important that there is no prior exposure.
Feed your dog veggeis and fruits as snacks Choose foods of all colors suvh as carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, squash, aplles , melon, etc. DO NOT FEED GRAPES, RAISINS AND ONIONS which are poisonous and be sure to check out any other fruit or vegetable not on this list to be sure it is OK for dogs to eat.
Don't buy more food than the dogs can eat in a month and store the food in a controlled environment in a closed container. Please consult the following website for additional information and for ratings of a large number of dog foods. http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/
Golden Retriever Senior Rescue Sanctuary and Educational Center, Inc. Content copyright .