One of the most common questions we receive is, “What should I be feeding my dog?” There is a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is a high-quality food specifically formulated for dogs that meets the Associate of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommendations that includes grains. For recommendations specific to puppies, please click here. Below we have outlined the main aspects of canine nutrition to consider for your dog, for more specific recommendations please contact your veterinarian.
What to look for in a food
There is a lot of information and misinformation surrounding cat food. As your pet’s veterinarian, we want to provide pet parents with the most up-to-date and accurate information. When selecting a food for your cat, there are important factors to consider. You should select a food that is appropriate for your pets age, size, and activity level. If your cat has known food sensitivities, be sure to select a food that does not contain these ingredients. Pets with specific health conditions have additional considerations that should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Controversial Ingredients and Diets
- Grains: Grains are a common source of confusion when it comes to dog food. Many pet-food brands will use clever marketing tools to steer owners towards buying grain-free food. While your dog did once descend from its ancestor the wolf, dogs have been domesticated animals for thousands of years and their nutritional requirements have changed as a result of evolution. Grains provide valuable vitamins, minerals, and an additional protein source in your dog’s food. Unless your dog has a proven allergy to grains, they should be on a grain-inclusive diet. Additionally, a recent study by the FDA has linked grain-free diets to Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM is a serious heart condition in which the left ventricle of the heart becomes weakened and is less able to pump blood properly. DCM is a form of heart disease that we seek to prevent by any means possible.
Bottom line: Grains are an important part of complete nutrition for your dog. Foods that are grain inclusive are recommended by Yorkshire Veterinary Hospital.
- By-products and By-product Meals: By-products by name sounds intimidating. By-products are the parts of an animal that are not considered ‘meat’ but are edible and nutritious including organs such as the liver or heart. By-products do not include inedible products like hair, feathers, hooves, or horns. By-products and by-product meals are considered safe and nutritious for dogs.
- Raw Diets: Our veterinarians respect that every owner will have a preferred diet for their pets. At this time, there is no evidence to support raw diets are better for domestic dogs over traditional diets. Raw diets can also lead to an increased likelihood of foodborne illnesses stemming from bacteria or other pathogens that are not removed during a cooking process. Furthermore, raw diets do not offer complete nutrition as outlined by AAFCO. Without scientific evidence promoting the benefits of a raw diet, we cannot recommend it. If you feel a raw diet is right for your dog, please be sure to use safe handling techniques of the food as defined by the FDA to protect you and your dog from potential illness.
- Homemade Diets: Homemade diets have the potential to be excellent for your dog, however they must be carefully crafted to ensure your dog is receiving the complete nutrition it needs. If you are considering a homemade diet for your dog, please keep in mind the time and cost investment that you will be committing to. We recommend a consultation with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist prior to starting a homemade diet to ensure you have the best recipe for your dog's specific needs. Your primary veterinarian can provide additional guidance on creating a well-balanced food at home as well. If you are interested in learning more about a balanced homemade diet, please visit balanceit.com for more information.
For more information on nationally recognized pet nutrition, please visit the AAFCO website. With questions regarding what food is best for your pet, please ask your veterinarian. If you are searching for brand recommendations, please shop our online store as we only sell products we stand behind!