We all want the best for our dogs. Whether it’s the safest leash, cutest toys, or comfiest bed, it goes without saying that it’s the same for our furry friend’s nutrition. But with so many food options available, it can get quite confusing when choosing a diet. To help you decide what’s most suitable for your pup, we’ve listed out the good and the bad of the most common dog food diets:
1. Kibble diet
Many would agree that kibbles are probably the most common type of food given to dogs. It’s fuss-free, legally required to be nutritionally balanced, has the longest shelf life, and not to mention, cost-effective.
Contrary to popular belief, while kibbles are dry and mild-smelling, it does not keep your dog’s teeth any cleaner than other types of food. The cheaper options are also often made with poor quality ingredients, synthetic vitamins, and “fillers” like carbohydrates to keep Fido full, so make sure to pay close attention to the ingredients list when choosing a dry dog food brand.
2. Canned food diet
Source: Thrapston Pet Supplies
Canned wet food generally contains more meat content and fewer grain carbohydrates than dry food, which is a good thing for dogs because they require lots of protein and not so much of the latter. Besides being easily digestible and high in water content for hydration, the canning process also naturally preserves food without the help of preservatives! To top that off, wet food often has a stronger, more natural flavour, making it better suited for picky eaters and elderly dogs who have a deteriorating sense of taste.
Unfortunately, most wet food cans are lined with chemicals BPA and BPS to prevent the acidic contents in the food from absorbing the metal in the can over time. While the chemicals are ultimately the lesser of two evils, they are known to be hormone disruptors and can contribute to side effects such as obesity, reproductive disorders, neurologic problems, and even cancer.
3. Home-cooked diet
Feeding your dog a home-cooked diet means that you get peace of mind and full control over his or her nutritional balance. Gone are the days where you have to scrutinise ingredient lists for unnecessary and unhealthy components, and you no longer have to worry about your dog missing out on vital nutrients. Plus, some dogs just aren’t fans of drinking water, and a home-cooked diet is particularly useful for ensuring that your pet gets enough hydration.
Right off the bat, home-cooked food definitely requires much more time and effort to prepare, which might not bode well for those with a jam-packed schedule. One way to go about this is to prepare large quantities at a go and then freeze them as individual portions so that all you have to do during meal times is to defrost and reheat. Whipping up your dog’s meal by yourself also means that you have to be very aware of what they can and cannot eat. Otherwise, you might end up causing more harm than good.
4. Raw food diet
Racing greyhounds and sled dogs are known to be fed raw dog food, which includes uncooked muscle and organ meat, crushed bones, raw eggs, fruits, vegetables, and some dairy. Coined as the “BARF” diet, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, advocates claim that the natural enzymes, vitamins, and beneficial bacteria undamaged by heat application help provide shinier coats, healthier skin, lower blood triglyceride levels, better digestive health, and even prevention of some cancers.
While the benefits seem endless, there has been not much scientific evidence to support the feeding of raw food to dogs. On top of being pricey and extra time-consuming to prepare and sanitise, there are risks of dietary imbalances, food poisoning, and contraction of diseases like salmonella. The raw food diet is also not suitable for all dogs because of how high in protein they are, especially for puppies or dogs with digestive issues, kidney or liver failure, and those on chemotherapy.
That said, there have been an increasing number of commercially-marketed raw dog food available that are treated with acidifying bacteria to make them inhospitable to harmful microbes.
5. Vegetarian and vegan diet
Perfect for vegetarians and vegans themselves, plant-based diets have been scientifically proven to offer a wide range of health benefits because they are naturally allergen-friendly, anti-inflammatory, and easily digestible. This makes them great for dogs who have meat-related allergies, joint pain and arthritis, and weight management issues.
Ultimately, dogs have certain nutritional requirements that can only be met by a vegan diet with adequate supplements. More specifically, our precious critters require vitamin D3 and 2 amino acids, L-carnitine and taurine, which are lacking in plant-based sources. These deficiencies can cause medical conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart becomes enlarged with weak contractions and poor pumping ability, reproductive failures, growth failures, and eye problems.
No matter which diet you choose to feed your dog, it should have the right makeup of the 6 major nutrient groups – proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and water. Just remember to consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your meal plan is a good fit for your furball, because every dog is a special snowflake.