Dog Food – The right choice

September 11, 2012 | By More

Have you purchased that same green bag of dog food for the past 10 years?   If you are asked the brand of your dog’s food or if it is made with chicken, beef or other protein would you know the answer?  Or, do you feel like taking a double dose of headache medication when you cruise through the dog food aisle thinking “Too many choices…where do I begin?”   No matter your dog food knowledge, the bottom line is there are options a plenty.


After many years of studying pet food and working in the industry, I have seen the effects of good food and, unfortunately, the results of feeding the wrong diet.  I know one thing for sure; there is not one food solution for every pet.

How do you know which nutritional choice is right for your dog or cat?

The first questions to ask are:

1.      What is my pet’s age and energy level?

2.      How much exercise does my pet get a day?

3.      Are there any underlying health conditions?  (if so, ask your veterinarian for pet food advice)

4.      Does my pet suffer from seasonal or annual allergies?

Once you know these answers, you are on the right road.  The next two questions will help narrow your search:

5.      What am I comfortable feeding my pet (dry food, canned food, raw food, a combination thereof)?

6.      What can I afford to spend on pet food?

A few food trends right now are:  natural, holistic, large breed, small breed, grain free, limited ingredient and more.  All can be found as either dry (kibble) or wet (canned) and some foods are offered as a raw diet as well.

To begin this conversation there needs to be clarification on probably the biggest trend…feeding a natural and holistic diet.

Natural– A natural pet food typically means a food that has no artificial ingredients, dyes, artificial preservatives or chemically synthetic products. Words to avoid on the pet food label are:  Propylene Glycol and BHA, or butylated hydroxyanisole.  These are two common examples of chemically synthesized ingredients found in some pet foods.

HolisticHolistic diets treat the whole pet and not just the symptoms. 

With that in mind, feeding a high quality diet is the first step to a healthy pet.  Usually, when a food is marketed as “holistic” the ingredients are of a higher quality and usually there is more true meat protein in the diet rather than grain.  Chicken or chicken meal as a first ingredient rather than corn is one good example.

Products are natural, easy to digest, nutritionally packed and today often include ingredients like berries and leafy greens which are antioxidant and vitamin rich.


Food panel examples (top four ingredients): Natural/Holistic diet:  Chicken, Chicken meal, barley, brown rice Non Holistic diet:  Corn, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat

strong>Recommendation:  By all means, pet owners should feed their puppy, adult dog, senior dog, and kitten or cat a “natural” diet.

  We all know that chemicals can have harmful effects on the body and oftentimes lead to disease. There are many natural foods on the market and price levels vary.  You might be surprised at how affordable a natural diet can be.

I have seen tremendous results when a pet parent switches from a non-holistic diet to one that is holistic.  Shinier coat, brighter eyes, “more life,” healthier weight and reduced itching are a few examples of the positive outcomes.  I highly recommend a holistic diet and again, there are many affordable options on the market. Typically, you will feed your pet less food on a holistic diet because their body will absorb more nutrients. Ask about frequent feeder programs as well.

So, is all of this just as clear as mud?  In my next post I will talk about food options, the appropriateness of the diet for your pet and enable you to make the smartest choice for your pet and one that fits your budget.


Category: Pet Health, Pet Nutrition

About the Author ()

Jenn Fadal is a national Pet Wellness & Lifestyle Expert. In addition to being the founder of her own holistic pet boutique, Wag, this Tampa native can be seen frequently on Media General’s Daytime Television across the country, as well as on FOX, NBC and ABC. She is also a writer and subject matter expert for various publications.

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