There is no source of more contradictory information than trying to research dog food. The reason why is simple – pet food was a $30 billion dollar category in 2018 according to the American Pet Products Association. So there are a lot of folks with a lot of reasons to convince you that their dog food is the best.
I strongly believe that science should guide any pup owner’s decision, and as a mom to 5 dogs of my own, I wanted to share my own personal research to help you make your choice. I have been curious about dog food since earning my Animal Science degree with a focus in Companion Animals at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and have read studies as they have been published. Science has come a long way in the past decade!
I also have the unique advantage of having met many dogs of many ages as the owner of Happy Pup Manor, and I can tell you that the spriest senior dogs we host are all own raw or dehydrated diets. If you can afford it, the highest-end foods do make a real difference in their quality of life and longevity.
Food must meet or exceed AAFCO’s standards
Just like people, puppies are what they eat, meaning quality food is important for the lifetime health of your pup.
Start your search by disqualifying any food that does not meet or exceed the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. The nutrition section of your pup’s foods should show how they compare to AAFO guidelines. If it doesn’t say there, you can always reach out to the pet food manufacturer, however, it usually means that the food does not meet or exceed AAFCO standards.
This also means that a home-made diet is likely not advisable. Just like us, dogs have nutritional needs across several vitamins and minerals that you are unlikely to be able to balance in a homemade recipe without the help of some very complex spreadsheets and a food scientist.
How nutrition is delivered matters
There are 4 types of food commercially available for dogs – raw, freeze-dried, canned, and kibble. I would personally rank them from best to worst:
Raw food mimics the diet that their ancestors – wild wolves – have evolved to ingest. The science on the lifetime benefits of raw is still out, but there are several compelling facts already established. Far more of the food served in a raw diet is digested by the dog – which means less gas and poop, and their gut bacteria is observed to be far more biodiverse. These facts, compounded with my own observations, make me believe this is the best choice. We don’t bake chicken nuggets in the oven until they are hard lumps and then let them sit in bags for 6 months before we serve them to our human kids, so why should the furries eat any different?
I feed my own dogs Primal Pronto – the smaller cubes enable the food to thaw very quickly.
These foods are a good option if raw is difficult for you to bring into your home. The freeze-drying process retains significantly more nutrition than the baking used to produce kibble. Nutrition matters to our pups the same as us – antioxidants give benefits to our dogs the same as us.
They can also be used in a 75/25 mix with raw food to introduce the benefits of raw to your pup’s biome without breaking the bank.
When looking at food for your pup, we recommend checking out some of these great products, designed specifically for a happy, healthy puppy!
Getting a puppy is a lot of work. You get so much information thrown at you at one time and it can be hard to keep track of it all. Luckily, the trainers here at Happy Pup Manor are trained professionals with the experience needed to help train your pup. When you’re in need of manners and command training or are looking to board your pup for a night or two, we are here for you. Contact us today to discuss your pup and the ways we can help you in the early stages of your relationship with your new puppy!