Everything You Need To Know About Your Dog’s Diet

Finding the right kibble could be one of the single most important health decisions that you can make for your dog.  Much like humans, if you don’t eat well, it’s much easier to get sick.  Likewise, If you feed your dog low quality kibble with fillers and additives it may lead to health issues that can be debilitating, painful, and expensive. Many of these problems can be prevented with a healthy diet.  With so many dog food options on the market, picking the right one can be a little tricky.  Just remember that there is an option out there that suits your specific dog’s needs.

The Genetic Makeup of Dogs

Dogs are descendants of wolves, which makes them natural carnivores.  But domestic canines have evolved to absorb nutrients from the foods that are available to them.  

A few years back, pet food manufacturers made fuss over a study revealing that dogs possess a genetic makeup that allows better grain/carbohydrate digestion in comparison to wolves. This shows the evolutionary adaptability that dogs have developed in response to the available food sources. However, it does not imply that dogs must consume carbohydrates. Rather, it signifies their capability to derive nourishment from carbohydrates if that’s what they are given to eat.

Dogs can effectively process and utilize carbohydrates, particularly when these carbs are pre-processed through cooking  (as commonly found in commercial dog foods). Furthermore, dogs exhibit the ability to convert the dietary proteins they consume into the glucose necessary for their metabolic functions. Carbohydrates indeed serve as an energy source and can appeal to a dog’s palate. But that isn’t necessarily what a dog needs to consume in order to be healthy.

The Truth About Kibble

Carbohydrates are a primary component in many dog foods, often sourced from grains, potatoes, and other starchy ingredients. These ingredients are more cost-effective for pet food manufacturers compared to meat, organs, and bone. Remember, carbohydrates are not essential nutrients for dogs. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) doesn’t establish specific standards or minimum requirements for them in balanced dog food. This lack of regulation means that pet food companies are not obliged to disclose carbohydrate content on packaging, making it challenging for pet parents to identify carb-heavy diets. This loophole allows brands to use inexpensive, carbohydrate-rich ingredients while appearing healthy. Even fresh food options can contain excessive carbohydrates. 

Many kibble companies use carbohydrates to create a “feed” mixture for the sake of texture and taste because it is cheaper, not healthier.  That being said, there are kibble options that prioritize health over cost.  On top of delivering high quality nutrition based meals, high end brands like Open Farm obtains their food from sustainable sources.  Fromm similarly provides high quality foods where the grains are predominately used for digestive benefits rather than cheapening the food.

Good kibble shouldn’t have fillers like corn, wheat, soy, or as a main ingredient with limited nutritional value.  Artificial colors and flavors are a red flag.  But if your dog can’t have kibble all the time, then what do they need in order to have a balanced diet?

What a Dog Needs

When selecting dog food, examining the ingredient list to ensure it contains these high-quality components is crucial to providing your dog with a nutritious and balanced diet. 

  • Animal Proteins: High-quality sources of animal protein such as chicken, turkey, beef, fish, and lamb provide essential amino acids for muscle development and overall health.
  • Whole Grains: Ingredients like brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa support digestive health.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Ingredients like sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and blueberries offer essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that contribute to a dog’s overall well-being.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are typically sourced from fish oil and support healthy skin, coat, and joint health.
  • Probiotics and Prebiotics: These support a healthy gut microbiome, aiding digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Taurine: An amino acid critical for heart health, commonly found in quality dog foods.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These compounds are essential for joint health, particularly for senior dogs.

The truth is that we often cannot offer our furry friends everything that they need from just one pack of food.  Probiotics lose their nutritional value when dry, grains need to be cooked, fruits and veggies need to be raw, and fish oil as well as other Omega-3s are often sold separately and are absorbed more effectively if they are fed raw fish vs processed fish oil.  If you’re only feeding your dog from one bag their whole life, they may not be getting everything that they need to have a well balanced diet.  So what do we do?

What To Feed Your Dog

If you’re not sure where to start, you can focus on these three categories: High quality protein, fresh fruits and veggies, and healthy fats.  Those are the three ingredients you need to make a well balanced diet. For example you can have a high protein kibble, green beans and blueberries, and fish oil.

We’ve already done the work of finding high quality foods for you and your pets.  Everything that is available on our website and in our store are brands that we trust.  You may find that we have a particular love for raw and gently cooked foods, but we have other options as well. If you have questions about your dog’s diet, stop in to consult with us for some ideas to fit your dog’s specific needs!


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