Food can be a touchy subject, as we are all looking out for our pets’ best interest amidst a massive number of choices. But with friends already talking about their own diet/health “new year’s resolutions,” I thought it might be worthwhile to look at a couple key health trends in canine nutrition.
High quality kibble
While research hasn’t come to an exact conclusion about dogs’ ability to digest grains, it is generally agreed that dogs have no use for them. Many respected kibble companies’ flagship line is often grain free and high (upper 20’s – mid-30’s percent) protein. On the subject of protein, the main source of protein must be a meat source. Many companies boost their protein values with unusable and plant-based proteins that don’t offer the same amino acids and other nutritional benefits of meat.
Supplements and neutraceuticals
This is a really broad subject but vitamins, supplements, and neutraceuticals have become a major part of humans’ diets and now, that of our pets as anecdotal evidence of their benefits adds up. Commercial kibble is, by necessity, exposed to high heat, inherently destroying many nutrients. This is where supplements come in. Those derived from real food (vs. synthetic versions) are best, as they offer the most “bioavailable” versions of the nutrients. Some of the most popular supplements we see are those for joints (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, salmon oil), skin and coat (vitamin blends, salmon oil), probiotics, and doggie versions of the multivitamin.
“People” food for pets
While you might be best off feeding them special treats in the bowl than at the dinner table, there are a lot of whole foods that promote a healthy body. Low-fat meats like chicken and fish are sure to get most dogs drooling. Carrots make great treats for pups on a diet, blueberries are great antioxidants, and a dribble of local honey over their food now and again would be a very special treat but given regularly can also help with allergies.
The enormity of opinions and resources can be extremely overwhelming for well-meaning pet guardians who simply want to do right by their pup. There’s a whole wide world of food – kibble, canned, dehydrated, homecooked, and raw and all the supplements one can imagine to fill in the gaps. Sites like Dog Food Advisor, Dogs Naturally (I highly recommend the blog), and Whole Dog Journal are great sites to start researching canine nutrition.