Guest contributor: Zara Lewis
If you have ever been tempted to base the diet of your four-legged canine friends on their preferences or, god forbid, those irresistible puppy eyes, you will be doomed. Especially when they’re hungry, but even when they’re not, they’ll eat anything, or at least they’ll try to! All the way from your goat-milk soap, a decade-old rug to the wonderful chocolate-chip cookies you’ve baked for yourself, as amazing as dogs are, they will eat anything on their way.
As a true pet parent, I giggle lovingly at the sight of a chewed up shoe, but I always make sure they keep their paws away from sweets because I know all too well how their bellies can react. And just like I’ve learned to read food labels from my own grocery list, I’ve also learned why it’s equally important to decipher your store-bought pet food labels.
Stay Informed on Recalls
Truth be told, sometimes even the best of brands for pet food make mistakes, so their products end up contaminated. There’s a higher likelihood for that to happen if that product contains flavor enhancers, which are sprayed on dried food just before packing.
Salmonella, a common food poisoning bacteria, can in fact survive in pet food for months after it has been packed, so if your product of choice has those enhancers, keep an eye on your dog’s health and potential symptoms. Recalls often happen after quite a few sales have already been made, so make sure to stay informed!
In general, I feel safe and confident when choosing pet food for my canine friends because according to PFIAA, over 98% of prepared pet food sold in my country is made of high quality ingredients, following the highest standards in this industry. However, being careful and well-informed is essential in order to provide your fur loves with the best possible food that will meet their nutritional needs.
Pure Meat Protein vs. Meat By-products
Sometimes brands can be sneaky, so they use a vague term such as “poultry” or “meat” to indicate the protein source, but to ensure the highest possible quality for your pooch, look for more specific names, such as “chicken”, “turkey”, “beef”, etc.
Meat by-products on the other hand allow for even more low-quality ingredients mixed with proper meat, and they can range from feathers and hair, to hooves and beaks, which contain very little to no nutritional value. But there’s some good stuff to look out for, too! Liver for example can be an exception, because it’s super healthy and brimming with vitamin A, so there’s no reason to leave it out.
Grain-Free is Good to Go
Our meat-loving furry best friends don’t need grains in their diet, which means that your pet food doesn’t need to contain any. Instead, many products will include some potatoes, which is fine in moderation, and will actually boost your dog’s health. Sweet potatoes in particular are very good for digestive health of dogs since they have plenty of fiber and beta-carotene, which is good for vision and growth.
My fluff-balls absolutely love delicious Net to Pet food and treats, so check out their brands and recommendations to find the best match for your pet. The sooner you discover your go-to pet food, the easier it will be to focus more on cuddling, grooming and all the other perks of sharing your life with pets!
Vitamins and Minerals Matter
Just like we need our daily dosage of these wonderful micronutrients, your fuzzy friends also benefit from foods that contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Including these in your pet’s diet will ensure that they grow properly, stay healthy, have lavish, voluptuous fur and strong teeth and bones.
While supplementing is always an option, it’s best that your daily portion of pet munchies contains all of the most important micronutrients they need, so go through the label and look for ingredients such as vitamin A, B complex vitamins, vitamin E and D, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc. If your preferred pet food has others as well, the more the merrier!
Feeding Instructions and Needs
It’s important to remember that even experts can be slightly off when it comes to the portions you need to feed your pet friends. There’s always a rough estimation on the package to go by, but every single animal is different, so bear that in mind and adapt the portions according to your pet’s age, health condition and stage of development.
Some brands are more specific than others, designed for an active puppy or a lazy-butt kitten, but no matter the choice, it could also be wise to talk to your vet to make sure you’re doing everything right. Also, there are some great websites like Vetchat or Vet LIVE where you can ask for advice 24/7, so whenever I have some quandaries, this is where I get the fastest and most reliable information.
Then again, if you’re willing to control the process of feeding your beloved canines from the beginning the, you should consider making their food on your own. You can start by trying out these yummy dog treats. And if that goes well and you get a furry applause, you can move on to creating a homemade menu for your pets. Either way, pick your pet food carefully to make sure they lead happy, healthy, and fuzzy lives!
Zara Lewis (@ZaraELewis) is a proud mom of two little humans, a lovely pup and crazy cat. She’s a writer, content editor on High Style Life and fitness & yoga enthusiast, passionate about promoting healthy lifestyle and creating a better world for the generations to come. She enjoys spending her free time with her family traveling, hiking and cycling.