You are what you eat. Has your mom ever said that to you? Like… you keeping eating that, you are going to turn into a [insert favorite food here]! If I said “Feed your dog this if you want your dog to live longer”, would you?
What your dog eats is directly connected to his physical and mental health. A dog with a poor diet may show signs of digestive issues, dull coat, allergies, and even behavior issues. And YES, a wholesome, healthy diet will help your dog live longer!
I will be the first to admit, I am far from perfect when it comes to feeding myself, my family, or my dogs. But I am always open to improving and learning.
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If you ever been inside a big box pet store you may wonder how it’s possible to have so many dog food options. Which one is best for your dog? Bags with bright colors, claiming to be full of only whole chicken or beef and wild caught fish.
Have you ever read the back of one of those bags of food? Did you know that ingredient lists are listed in order of the amount of each ingredient? So, the first ingredient has the highest percentage in that bag?
I recommend finding a dog food that the first ingredient is a whole protein. Not corn or a protein meal, but chicken, beef, fish, etc.
Now here is the thing… dry dog food, or kibble as I will call it here, does not supply your dog with a balanced fulfilled diet. Okay, before you start to freak out, let me explain.
The point of writing this article is not to scare you, but to inform you that kibble may not be supplying your dog with all his nutritional needs. Kibble is cooked, processed and dried… depleting it of many the nutrients whole foods once had.
These facts are why raw feeding is becoming so popular. As dog owners realize that commercial dog food isn’t all that the commercials claim them to be, they want more for their dogs.
But for many, myself included, I’m not prepared to start feeding my dogs a raw diet. It takes a lot of research, planning and time to make that leap. If you can, that is awesome… the more power to you and your dog. But I will warn, don’t think you can just start feeding your dog some raw steak and be done. There is so much more that goes into feeding a raw diet.
I recommend reading this article from Big Dog Mom: Homemade Dog Food: Is Balance Possible (or a Pipe Dream)?
Maybe you’ve considered cooking for your dog. This sounds easy enough, cook some rice, chicken, maybe a few carrots and you’re done. Nope, not so fast. This would not be considered a balanced diet. Your dog needs a variety of foods and supplements to keep him healthy. Please do your research before deciding to cook for your dog.
This is the easiest by far. Buy a bag of dog food and feed it to your dog twice a day and you’re done. Granted your dog can survive on just kibble. Many dogs have, including my own for decades. But is it best for them?
It wasn’t until we adopted our dog, Ginger, that I really started researching dog foods. See, she has food allergies. And it was in my research in trying to figure out what she is allergic too, that I learned so much about dog food. I started reading labels and was shocked at what I saw.
For us, it’s a balance of wanting the best for our dogs, time available and cost. So I choose a very high-quality kibble, the best I can afford. Then I add fresh foods as often as I can.
By the way, I found reading labels in the pet store to be unrealistic. With hundreds of options available, I used Chewy.com to search for quality ingredients. Chewy made my life much easier with their dog food search tools.
Whole fresh foods are not only good for you, but for your dog too! I was brought up thinking it was bad to feed our dog table scraps. And while I never recommend feeding your dog while you eat at the dinner table, because you will just create a beggar, giving your dog some of your veggies can actually be a great thing!
Here are some great fresh foods to start feeding your dog today that are Antioxidant Rich, Anti-Inflammatory, Cancer Fighting, Superfoods:
This is one sector that I find amusing for myself… well because it shows that my dogs just may eat better than I do!
Yes, I add probiotics to my dog’s food every day. Why? Well because I realized that the dry kibble diet is not enough for them. Even after adding some fresh foods, they could always use more and probiotics is an easy and cheap way to do so.
And I know that probiotics give them that extra boost in their health. Plus, it’s so easy… I just need to add a small scoop to their food twice a day and done. Both my dogs look and act so much better when they have probiotics as part of their diet.
My husband even noticed the dog’s coat looking shiner and softer and I didn’t even tell him I started them on probiotics!
In my opinion, it all comes down to this… feed your dog the best you can afford. If you can only afford $30/month on dog food, then read the labels on all the foods in your price range and choose the best one.
Add fresh foods and probiotics to the mix. These are inexpensive ways to boost your dog’s health. Every little bit will help. And if you can afford and have the time, maybe a raw diet is the best for your dog.
Remember, that dog treats and bones are included in your dog’s diet. Stay far, far away from dye-colored bones and treats. Read the ingredients! And sorry, no rawhides. They are terrible for your dog and can be dangerous too! Just Google, “how do they make rawhide dog bones” and you will see what I mean.
I feed our dogs Zignature brand dry dog food. Like I mentioned earlier, with Ginger’s allergies she is limited on what she can eat. Zignature is the only brand I have found that she can eat without a reaction. It is a very high-quality, limited ingredient dog food.
I also feed them raw fruits and veggies, such as carrots, bananas, and apples. The also love coconut oil as a special treat. And they get the probiotics added to their kibble. This is the one we use.
So, there you have it. You are what you eat. You and your dog eat healthily, you will be healthier. And when we are healthy, we feel and look better.
Leave a comment below and tell me what your dogs favorite fruit or veggie is… I love to hear all the fun responses. My dogs favorite are carrots, but they love all the whole foods I’ve given them.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.