Dog Food

  One of the most important things that we can do for our dogs is feed them quality food. That is one that not just has the right amount of protein and fat for the activity level of your dog but is also nutritionally balanced with other nutrients that are needed to fuel that canine athlete.

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   So what does one look for when they are looking for quality dog food? That is a great question so let’s take a look at some things to think about when choosing a food.

  The first thing that we should look at is that the food is approved by The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). 

  The AAFCO is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies. This is not a government organization that regulates the pet food industry, but rather than regulate the industry they set the standards for quality pet nutrition by creating the nutrient profiles for the food. 

  There is plenty of information on the AAFCO website if you would like to find out more about what they do, however for our purposes here when you are reading your dog food label look for the statement at the end of the ingredient list that says that your food of choice meets or exceeds AAFCO minimum requirements.

  The next thing is the ingredient list. You will see a lot of ingredients listed. Understanding the ingredients list is important. You are probably saying no kidding, but some people try to apply human nutritional requirements to their dogs. When they actually have their own nutritional requirements.

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   The first ingredient is usually the protein source. This should be a meat or fished based ingredient. Meat or fish based proteins are where the muscle building comes from in our canine athletes. Plant based proteins do not give them all that they need.

  Secondly you get some grains listed. Examples such as brewers rice or whole grain wheat. This is where the carbohydrates come from in the food. I will talk a little more about grains later.

   The next ingredient is usually another protein source. This is sometimes  one that causes the most controversy because of the wording of it. This is a by product ingredient with chicken or beef or whatever the primary protein source is. So let’s talk about this for a minute.

   The by product does not mean that it is just a filler in the ingredient list or something that is inedible such as feathers or hooves. Some even believe that these are low quality ingredients. This simply isn’t correct. By-products are usually the organs from the animal. The heart, liver, kidneys and such. In wild canines these are the parts that are eaten first. They are nutritious and healthy and they help balance the food. They are called by-products because they  are not in the normal human food chain.

  After this you start to get into the other ingredients. These are the ingredients that provide the necessary vitamins, fats, oils, taste and texture to the food. These are the ingredients that help balance out the food and make it well rounded.

  The next thing I would like to cover briefly is the grain free diets that are out there. Grain free is a human diet that people believe that their dogs will benefit from and it has become very popular. Due to this popularity dog food companies have started putting out grain free diets.

  These diets are lacking what your dog needs. Dogs are omnivores and have different nutritional requirements than people. There have been reports of dogs suffering from problems as a result of these diets. Now if you are the one that says my dog has been grain free for years and there are no issues then that is great news. That doesn’t change the fact that some dogs have had their health compromised by these diets and to me our dogs face enough risk and if there is one that I can eliminate that is the course that I am going to continue to follow..

 Another thing to talk about when discussing food is the raw diet.

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  A number of trainers, breeders and people in general are doing raw diets for their dogs. The one concern about this is doing it correctly. It takes work to do it correctly. You have to ensure that you have the knowledge of canine nutrition to balance it correctly. If it isn’t then the benefits of this plan will be negated. 

   Also it takes time to get it right. I am not talking about the ingredients, but the right ingredients and correctly balanced. This is important. This ensures the dog can get the full benefit of this type of feeding and not end up with its health compromised from it.

  The last thing about food that should be mentioned is look at the history of the company before you buy their product. There have been a number of dog food companies that have had recalls on their products. Some a few years ago and some very recently. Look at what the recall was for and what they have done to correct the problem. Also since the last recall have there been any other issues. with their products. You want a company that is putting out a quality product reliably and safely over the life of the product.

   In closing, remember to not get fooled by fancy packaging and advertising that use words that make it seem like this is the best food since dogs were wolves. Don’t get caught up in the price. Pet food is expensive so get the best you can afford. This ensures your dog is on a sustainable diet. A dog getting its food continuously switched to whatever is on sale can and most likely will end in them having gastrointestinal issues by not switching it correctly.

   Feel free to join this discussion and we will see you in the field, 

4 Replies to “Dog Food”

  1. Good discussion, Brian. We know that we do not always see eye to eye on the food topic. Both of us feed based on our experience and beliefs. That said I value having an informed discussion about the benefits of one method or type over another. I think this discussion can not only inform people, but also increase the performance level of your dog.

    Especially as dogs mature and age, it is important to adjust their diets to maintain weight and optimal fitness. Exercise and diet make a huge difference and go hand and hand. Especially when evaluating protein/fat content more isn’t always better, as the dog ages it should be adjusted and evaluated.

    1. Thanks Kyle. You are correct we don’t see eye to eye all the time and that is one of the great things about the bird dog world. I do agree with you that an informed discussion based on solid information more than opinions helps everyone involved. I always hope to share and inform and most importantly learn as I go through this bird dog world.
      You bring up a valid point about as a dog ages they requirements their need for optimal health and to keep them in the game does change. As people think about the food protein and fat are the things that get the most attention but there is so much more to a balanced diet. You also bring up some great talking points about more isn’t always better.
      The point that it needs to be adjusted and evaluated as they age is a very accurate statement. That is why some companies make senior food. It is not just the body but the brain needs more support from nutrition as they age. Thanks for the thoughtful comment and continuing the conversation.

    1. Maggie,
      I believe a puppy should be on a puppy food. They are formulated differently to support a puppies developing system. They are also easier for them to digest. I usually feed a good formula that I will feed three times a day until the puppy is six months old. I then switch to two times a day, still giving the same required amount until they are twelve months old. Then I switch to once a day and transition to an adult formula. This has been successful for me with the puppies that have come through my house. Hope this helps and thanks for the input.

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