Today, there are over 84 Million pet owners in the United States (American Pet Products Association (APPA). This human to animal connection has been deeply embedded in our society for decades. Pets are considered part of the family and coming home to that wagging tail is the best part of the day. We love spoiling our pets as well, and as a society spend billions of dollars on our furry loved ones per year. People want their dogs to live their longest and healthiest lives and are willing to do whatever to do so.
Therefore, over the past couple of years, there have been drastic changes in the pet food industry. For decades people stuck with old “trusted brands”, until around 2007 when a toxic ingredient was put into one dog food brand, killing thousands of pets across the United States. After digging deeper, people became concerned about what their pet was actually eating, and the dangers of other ingredients were exposed. New dog food brands came out with higher quality, wholesome ingredients, and old “trusted” companies frantically worked to switch their formulas (or the marketing) as well. I highly recommend watching “Pet Fooled” on Netflix, it’s an extremely educational and eye-opening documentary on the pet food industry and the importance of a biologically appropriate diet. The pet food industry can be extremely difficult to navigate so here are some big things to pay attention to and look out for:
Allergies are extremely common for many dogs. The three main allergies in dogs tend to be chicken, beef, and grain. The main symptoms that your dog may be allergic to their food are:
- Constant licking/itching of paws or other areas
- Hot spots
- Paws smell like Fritos chips (weird but true!)
- More shedding than usual
- Dry itchy skin
Check the Label/Ingredients:
Dog’s genetically need a high protein diet, so it is important that the protein is the first ingredient in your dog’s food. Therefore, if you feed your dog a chicken-based food, chicken should 100% be the first ingredient. Here are some ingredients to stay away from (especially if it is one of the first ingredients):
- Wheat gluten
- By-product (Chicken, beef, etc. This is all the left-over inedible pieces of the animal).
- Rendered Fat
- BHA/BHT/Ethoxyquin (chemical preservatives that may cause kidney/liver damage and ethoxyquin is illegal to put in human food in the US).
Kibble Vs. Raw Diet:
Kibble is definitely the most convenient way to feed our dogs, but our pet’s truly need moisture in their diet so that they can digest things properly. “If it (moisture) isn’t consumed with the food itself, the body compensates by robbing moisture from the tissues, and sending it to the digestive tract to help facilitate the digestion of each dry meal. (Just imagine eating a bowl of breakfast cereal without the milk, every day). Both the liver and kidneys can become stressed, and constipation and other health problems may result from insufficient moisture in the food” (The Honest Kitchen).
Dogs have a very short digestive tract, and hard kibble pellets can be extremely difficult for their little intestines to break down. I recommend incorporating some sort of raw or wet food in your dog’s diet. Dog’s and wolves are both part of the canis lupus family, therefore, almost 100% of their DNA is identical. Both need a biologically appropriate diet in order to live their healthiest life, which is raw meat and a diet full of moisture. Dog food companies have made it much easier to do so, from pre-packaged frozen raw foods, to dehydrated nuggets you can use as a treat or topper. Here are my recommendations:
- Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets
- Primal Raw Frozen Patties
- Primal Pronto
- Stella and Chewy’s Meal Mixers
- Stella and Chewy’s Dehydrated Raw Patties
- Stella and Chewy’s Frozen Raw Patties
- Stella and Chewy’s Raw Coated Kibble
- Fromm Kibble
- Grandma Lucy’s Freeze-Dried
- The Honest Kitchen Freeze-Dried
All in all, the pet food industry can be very overwhelming for pet owners. With hundreds of different foods, brands, and ingredients to choose from it can be difficult to know what is best for your pet. These tips will help to ensure your dog lives a happy and healthy life, with a diet appropriate for them. If you ever have any questions, I’d love to help!