What Is The Healthiest Dog Food?
Most dog owners know the disgust of their beloved canine munching on a bit of roadkill or some nasty leftovers found in the grass. From table scraps to refuse, many dogs seem to have an iron stomach. What dogs like to eat and what they should eat are two very different things, though. Keeping pets healthy over a long life takes care and planning.
What goes into the food dish matters immensely, and more and more consumers are waking up to this fact. Even in the dry dog food market, long the domain of pet owners looking for the most bang for their buck, people are increasingly looking for healthier kinds of kibble for Fido.
What pets eat is going to have a profound effect on their lifespan and their quality of life. Everything from dental hygiene to the shininess of their coat and health of bones and joints comes back to the food dogs eat.
Key Ingredients of Healthy Dog Foods
It is no surprise to discover that raw, natural sources of protein are at the heart of the healthiest diets dogs can eat. Since most people cannot afford or don't have the time to prepare and manage a raw food diet for their dogs though, they will need to rely on some kind of packaged product. This includes the full range from dry kibble to wet dog food, and everything from bulk bags to individually portioned products.
Due to cost and convenience, many pet owners rely on dry food. These dry dog foods, however, are not always the healthiest options. Cooked at high heat, which can produce carcinogens, and filled with ingredients like corn and protein meal that are hard for dogs to digest, some dog food products leave a lot to be desired.
Old stand-by products from some companies are now being upstaged as people look with increasing scrutiny at what is in the food they are giving their furry friends. Cost is a factor for nearly every consumer, but these days price is not the only point people are taking into account as they look for dog food.
Dog foods with lower levels of fillers, preservatives, and animal meal are now on the market from companies like Orijen and Canidae, both making a play for the best dry dog food. These are catching pet owners’ eyes, not just because of the high-quality protein you find as the first ingredient, but what lies further down the label as well.
In many of these premium dog food brands, ingredients like sweet potatoes and grains like brown rice or lentils are found instead of corn and white potatoes. Real meat may be the foundation of these foods, but the particular blend of veggies can go a long way to keeping pets healthy. Making a high-protein food is a good start, but filling out a pet’s diet with the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy diet means backing up that protein with a cast of other characters. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, and carrots are only a few of the vegetables Silva produces that can provide the necessary carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins pets need and pet owners are looking for.
How Do You Pick a Healthy Dog Food?
Helping consumers choose in a packed market is not easy. Getting your product line to stand out in the noisy crush of promises and marketing can be difficult. This is especially true when you are fighting the headwind of consumer perception about what is good for their pets’ health.
Choosing an affordable natural dog food can be a tough challenge for many consumers. There are plenty of options available in both wet food and dry kibble, but recently there has been a spillover from the way consumers are choosing food for themselves that has reached the pet food aisle as well.
One of the current trends dog owners have picked up is the mistaken notion that "grain free" food is healthier for dogs. It turns out that while the human health craze to cut carbs may help trim some waistlines, most pooches actually need some carbs in their diets.
Several dog food brands have picked up on this trend nonetheless, touting the supposed health benefits of grain-free dog food. It is certainly good to pull back on fillers like corn and white potatoes that are not as nutritionally dense as other grains and vegetables, but eliminating grains altogether could risk lowering a dog food’s potential nutritional benefit.
As consumers become increasingly educated about what they are putting in their dogs’ bowls, attention may shift from what you leave out to what is put in particular dog food. With some dog food brands claiming human-grade food that would be approved by the FDA for consumers to eat themselves, the bar can seem high for creating a truly premium dog food.
In this consumer climate, products that can offer a limited ingredient list of whole protein sources, vegetables, and whole grains will likely have an edge. Creating such food usually means coming up with a shorter ingredient list, most of which are going to be things people can pronounce rather than preservatives and fillers.
Smaller ingredient lists can be harder to find than you might think. It should be noted, however, that some special offerings for senior dogs or for pooches with a sensitive stomach could end up with longer ingredient lists not because of fillers, but due to the inclusion of additives specifically designed to address joint issues or other health conditions.
Are Vegetables Important for Dogs?
Some companies such as Taste of the Wild go beyond simply touting the high-quality protein that headlines many dog food blends. Offerings in their Prey line contain lentils as the second ingredient—one that is proudly advertised on their website. This is part of the trend toward advertising a more holistic approach to the ingredients in healthy dog food. Here at Silva we have you covered with our extensive line of flaked, diced, and powdered vegetables. We carry well recognized ingredients like sweet potatoes, as well as vegetables like carrots that are often used in pet foods.
Getting protein from a natural whole source of meat should be the foundation of your mix, no matter size or life stage of dog you are targeting. Animal proteins should always be considered when you are setting out to plan a product. While vegetables can provide a wide range of proteins, the mix of amino acids in animal proteins provide more of the nutrients dogs need.
Using whole meats when possible such as lamb, venison, or whole fish rich in omega-3 will be a better base than something like chicken meal. Protein meal may be needed in your recipe to fill in some of the protein if you are creating a product for a certain price-point, but it can place a strain on a dog's digestive system, particularly the kidneys. Animal meal should not be the main ingredient if you are looking to create a dog food that is truly healthy.
Good and Bad Ingredients in Dry Dog Food
Like humans, it is tempting for manufacturers to include fillers in their products. Simply put, making great food takes time and effort and requires the best ingredients, whether the final customer has two feet or four. Adding filler ingredients designed to decrease the overall production cost of dog food can be harmful to the long-term health of pets.
The exact ingredients can certainly vary, but experts generally agree there is a formula for what should make up a healthy dog's diet. Around 40% of the calories should come from protein, another 40% from fat, and the remaining 20% carbohydrates.
High-quality, whole protein from poultry, fish, or lamb is certainly the foundation of any dog’s diet. Building on that foundation with nutrient-rich vegetables like broccoli, green beans, lentils, and sweet potatoes can put you well on your way to creating a product that packs serious nutritional punch.
Though grain-free dog food is more a marketing term than a real benefit to pups, it is best to avoid certain ingredients. Corn is often used as a filler in many cheaper dog foods, but large quantities of corn will be hard for dogs to digest.
The Best Food Starts with Quality Ingredients
As with any food, high-quality ingredients are the basis of a high-quality final product. At Silva, our field to finish guarantee is the same for all our ingredients. Whether it is going on the table, in a bag of cat treats, or in the dog’s dinner bowl, knowing the food you are buying is made of only the best ingredients is increasingly important to consumers.
Our entire line of carefully selected, diligently produced vegetables and spices are sourced from the best producers the world over. All ingredients coming from abroad undergo our ZerOx chemical-free treatment as a biosecurity measure to ensure no pests can come along for the ride.
If you are looking to pack your dog food products with the kind of ingredients veterinarians recommend and consumers are seeking in their pet food, consider getting some of our samples today.