10 Tips for A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Food and Treats – Diet and Nutrition
Some of us are new dog owners and some have had several fur babies. None the less, it is difficult for us to choose and know what is best on the market for our dogs. The selection is vast and the trends have huge followings. We have gathered information from veterinarians and experts in our efforts to be better dog parents ourselves.
1. How do I know that the dog food or treat is meeting my dog’s nutritional needs?
Pet food labeled “complete and balanced” has met the Association of American Feed Controls Officials (AAFCO) for nutritionally balanced. That statement indicates that the pet food has met the standards of the AAFCO where the trials were passed and is formulated to be nutritionally complete.
The life stage of the pet is also indicated on the label to distinguish food for puppies from adult dogs. When a statement indicates that the food is intended for “all life stages,” it contains extra nutrients for the growth of puppies. Overweight and inactive dogs are advised to consume food indicated as “adult maintenance” only because they are lower in fat and lower in calories.
2. What does natural, holistic, and organic mean for dog food?
These words do not carry weight in the dog food industry as they do in everyday language. They are simply marketing ploys to indicate the dog food has minimal synthetic substances. But these claims are hard to verify by the AAFCO.
3. What are preservatives and are they harmful for your dog?
Most dog food and treats contain preservatives, food color, and stabilizers. Manufacturers are required to list the preservatives they add, but they do not and are not required to list the preservatives that other manufacturers add.
Ethoxyquin, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), and BTH (butylated hydroxytoluene) are common preservatives used in pet food and have been scrutinized. Ethoxyquin was closely evaluated 20 years ago as a cause for skin allergies, liver disease, cancer, and infertility in dogs. Although the chemicals demonstrate adverse effects at higher levels, these preservatives are used in pet food at allowable trace amounts.
Sometimes, mums and dads have to be creative to get their pups to eat healthy treats and food.
4. What are byproducts in my dog’s food and should I avoid them?
Meat byproducts in your dog’s food could include blood, bone, brains, udders, intestine, and a few other parts and organs. Hairs, horns, teeth, and hooves are excluded as byproducts. Veterinarians leave it up to pet parents if they want to serve up meat byproducts. Liver, which is common byproduct in dog food, is rich in vitamin A. It is more valuable for dog mom and dads to talk to their veterinarian if they believe a particular byproduct does not sit well with their pup.
5. How much and how often should I feed my dog?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs younger than 6 months should be fed 3 to four times a day. Younger dogs have less developed digestive systems and require smaller and more frequent meals. At 6 months, they can eat twice a day. Once dogs are adults, they can eat once or twice a day. For feeding purposes, adulthood is considered when a dog reaches 90% of the expected adult weight. Most dog parents feed twice a day to curb their dog’s hunger and portion the daily intake to help with digestion. It is more difficult for older or dogs with ailments to digest one large meal rather than two smaller meals. The serving size should be noted on the food package.
It is also important to assess your pet’s activity level when determining how much food they should consume. Lap dogs and less active dogs can afford to eat 10% less than the recommendation on the food label. Highly active dogs, such as service dogs, can eat 20% more than the recommendation on the label. These performance dogs needs a higher fat content to supply calories for energy.
6. What can’t dogs eat?
Ensuring that your dog stays clear of chocolate, grapes, raisins, and onions are key for new pet parents. Dogs have a sweet tooth, so they will beg for a morsel, but any amount of chocolate is dangerous for dogs. The canine system is different from the human digestive system. These ingredients lead to diarrhea, extreme thirst, too much energy, panting, and seizures. When a dog ingests any of these substances, they need to immediately be taken to the veterinarian where they will be induced to vomit.
Dog parents should also avoid feeding scraps from the table. In addition to promoting bad begging behavior, the human food table scrap is bad for your fur baby. Human food is too high in fat and salt content for your pup to digest. Scraps from the table should be closely monitored.
7. Is wet food or dry food better?
Veterinarians say that it is a toss up between wet and dry foods. Either product is governed with regulations from AAFCO and is deemed a complete and balanced diet before hitting the consumer shelves. It is more important for pet parents to contextualize and make sure the food is a fit for their dog. Parents can observe to see if the wet or dry food causes allergies, effects the coat, mood, and energy level of their dog. Understanding the ingredients that best fits the dog goes a long way as the dog’s digestive system could change throughout life.
8. How much treats can a I feed my dog?
Treats should not be consumed more than 10% of a dog’s total diet. In total, an adult dog needs at least 10% of daily calories from protein and 5.5% from fats. Adult dogs can consume up to 50% carbohydrates daily.
Nibbs Club’s dog treats are made bite size to control the portion. Additionally, the recipes are researched extensively to make sure we are introducing the best ingredients to our pups. We have a low-fat, high-protein, and grain free meatball that meets the bill and satisfies all dogs. Nibbs Club’s vegan dog treat allows pet parents to provide protein, fiber, and vitamins to their pets with just vegetables and fruits. Our signature treats are ideal for the higher performance and active dogs. Whatever the size and activity level, Nibbs Club has the healthy dog treat for your pup.
9. What are the best brands of dog food?
Most commercially available pet food has passed the rigor of AAFCO’s regulations and deemed complete and balanced. The difference in brands depends on how your dog reacts and adjusts to the food. The best way to determine if your dog food is right for your pet is to see if the coat is glossy, the dog has a lot of energy, and has an overall healthy physical appearance. The question is not what is the best brands of dog food, but what is the best brand of dog food for MY dog?
10. What are healthy treats for my dog?
Healthy dog treats should have a balance of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Nutritionally balanced healthy dog treats can be fortified with animal, vegetables, and fruit products. Dog treats do not need to follow AAFCO’s standards to be complete and balanced. But pet parents should read the ingredients list to understand the ratio of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients in their pet’s treats.
The healthiest way to treat your dog is coupling it as a positive reinforcement. The best time to give your dog a treat is when you want to reward them for an action or behavior. That's why it is ideal to use treats for training. This promotes your dog to learn and grow with you. This sets you and your pet up for a long and healthy life together.
Learn more about Nibbs Club's healthy dog and cat treats