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What Kind of Dog Food Does Your Dog Need?

Nutritional Needs

When it comes to dog food, good nutrition is as important to your dog's health as it is to your own. But his nutritional needs are quite different from yours! In general, while a human diet should be high-fiber and low in fat, a dog needs more fat (for energy and a healthy skin and coat) and less fiber (for good intestinal health).
 

Even if you prefer a vegetarian diet, designing a high-quality dog diet without animal protein is difficult. IAMS™ Company research supports that meatless meals do not provide optimal nutrition for dogs. Dogs are best fed as carnivores because they have simple stomachs and short intestines that are ideal for digesting animal protein and animal fat. Dogs also need carbohydrates for energy.

 

 

Life Stage and Lifestyle

With thousands of different pet foods available, how do you pick the one that's right for your dog?
 

Start by identifying the dog's life stage and lifestyle. Puppies, nursing mothers, and mature pets are examples of life stages. And each one has different nutritional requirements. All dog foods must state which life stage they are recommended for.
 

Nutritional needs also vary depending on lifestyle. A dog whose primary activity is guarding the couch doesn’t need as much energy as one who guards a flock of sheep. Another factor to consider is breed size: small, medium, or large.
 

Finally, consider any special medical condition your dog might have, such as food allergies, that might require your veterinarian to recommend a special diet.

 

 

Dry or Wet?

Once you've determined your dog's life stage and lifestyle needs, you need to decide whether to feed dry or canned food. Most dogs do well eating only dry food. Dry foods, such as IAMS ProActive Health™ Adult MiniChunks, promote oral hygiene for healthy teeth and gums through abrasive chewing action. Some dogs, especially finicky eaters, enjoy wet food because of its smooth, wet texture.
 

It's important to remember that, while dry food can be left in a bowl all day, wet food should be thrown away after 30 minutes if not consumed. So, dry food is the best choice for busy people who are not normally home during the day.
 

Once you know your pet’s nutritional needs and your pet's preference, you are ready to go shopping.

 

 

Comparing Labels

Ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight. Because dogs thrive on animal-based diets, it's best to pick a food in which the first ingredient is an animal-based protein source, such as chicken, lamb, fish or egg. Unlike a single vegetable-based protein source, such as soybean meal or corn-gluten meal, these ingredients contain a full complement of essential amino acids.
 

Scientific studies show that using a combination of carbohydrates in the diet, such as corn meal or barley and grain sorghum, offers optimal carbohydrate digestibility and helps maintain energy levels.
 

Scientific studies also show that beet pulp, the material remaining after sugar is extracted from sugar beets, is an excellent fiber source and promotes a healthy digestive tract.
 

For a glossy coat and healthy skin, your pet needs fat in the diet. Good fat sources include chicken fat and fish oil.

 

 

Quality

Dog-food labels provide limited information about the nutritional value of the food because labeling regulations do not allow manufacturers to describe the quality of ingredients on the package.
 

A reputable pet food manufacturer will be able to explain to you their specific methods for evaluating and assuring the quality of ingredients used in their products.

 

 

Price Comparison

When choosing food, the price on the bag, while important, is usually not the best consideration. A low price might indicate inexpensive ingredients, or ingredients that change as market prices fluctuate.
 

Also, many lower-priced products have higher daily portions to provide the same amount of nutrition found in a high-quality diet. To get a better representation of value, it is the cost per feeding, not the total cost, that counts.
 

To figure cost per feeding, divide the total cost by the number of days the product lasts. For example, a 20-lb bag of food costs $18.99 and lasts 30 days. The cost to feed is $0.63 per day. A 20-lb bag of food that costs $15.99 and lasts 20 days costs $0.80 per day. So, when costs are analyzed properly, high-quality pet foods compare quite favorably to other brands while offering outstanding nutrition.

 

 

The Look of a Healthy Diet

Here are some signs of health to look for in your dog:

  • Strong, white teeth and pink, healthy gums
  • Supple skin and glossy coat
  • Firm muscles in legs
  • Energetic, enthusiastic personality
  • Small, firm stools without excessive odor

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    lost dog escaping a yard

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    Could Your Dog Escape Your Yard? Here’s How to Secure It

    For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.

     

     

    Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?

    Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
     

    • Feeling socially isolated
    • Lack of stimulation (think toys)
    • Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
       

    Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.

     

     

    How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard

    Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose

    If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.

     

     

    The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence

    Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
     

    If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
     

    When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.

     

     

    Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”

    Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
     

    • A bit of shelter or shade
    • A source of water
    • A rotating lineup of toys
    • Their favorite playmate (you)

     

     

    Use Your Yard Wisely

    Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
     

    With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.

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