They don’t come with an instruction manual, but they mean more to you than any device ever could! You already know your dog’s nutritional needs are a key part of their long and vital life – but what is the healthiest dog diet for your pooch? Like all of the healthiest lifestyle, finding your dog’s best option starts with some research. Here’s how to figure out the right diet for your pup.
Nutritional needs for dogs: There’s no one-size fits all
While your dog’s most optimal diet depends on their age, size, breed, and lifestyle, here’s a general framework: Adult dogs (who have reached 90% of their full weight) ideally eat 2 meals per day. Of those meals, 18-25% will ideally be protein, 30-70% carbs, 10-15% fats, and sufficient water and essential vitamins and minerals. This is considered a balanced diet.
A basic rule of thumb: When shopping for food, look for ‘complete and balanced’ on the label – this ensures the food contains all the nutrients a dog needs and you don’t have to supplement their diet with anything extra. And make sure you do yourself and your pooch a favour – opt for top rated dog foods, rather than skimp. Spending more money on quality food will save you money on vet bills in the long run.
What factors determine my dog’s best diet?
Aside from age, breed and stage of life, consider your dog’s activity level (use Pet MD’s healthy weight calculator to find out exactly how much you should be feeding your dog), their dental health (this will help determine if dry or wet food is best, for example), their digestive and urinary tract health, skin and bone health, and any allergies they may have.
Is it OK for my dog to eat vegetarian or vegan?
It could be. A 2016 study found that “a significant and growing body of population studies suggest that dogs may be successfully maintained on nutritionally sound vegetarian diets long-term, and may thrive.” So, if you yourself eat a cruelty-free diet, you certainly can put the same intention into providing your dog a healthy vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
More and more options are opening up to support vegan dog owners, too. Open Farm is one example of a company that practices cruelty free farming and produces organic products. That said, do consult with your veterinarian before attempting a meat-free diet, as it can cause health complications for some dogs.
To raw or not to raw?
Like a vegan dog diet, the suitability of a raw food dog diet is debated, though the popularity of both is on the rise. Proponents of the raw food for dogs believe it to be better for keeping digestion working well and providing cleaner energy than cooked or processed foods. Owners who appreciate being in control of the quality of their dog’s food tend to gravitate toward this one. Others just think it’s takes too much time and work to find or prepare suitable raw foods, or that it’s just not necessary for optimal health.
There are fresh and frozen commercially prepared raw foods you can buy, and some owners choose to opt for homemade raw food (which may include a mix of meat, sinew, grains or vegetables). If you want to go the commercial route, check out 6 of the all natural, ethically sourced, local raw food brands we love and recommend to dog owners. These brands offer complete and balanced options without some of the fillers you’ll find in others.