Congratulations! So you’ve finally decided to get a dog. As a new dog owner, you may have a lot of questions. The most important is what to feed your dog. With thousands of brands of dog foods, different types and formula, it can be overwhelming. Here is a guide to get you started.
1. Home-prepared or Ready-made
Decide if you would like to feed a home-prepared meal or ready-made dog food. Home-prepared has its advantages. You know exactly what goes into your dog’s diet. However, you do need to spend time shopping for fresh ingredients and on food preparations.
As a busy owner, if a home-prepared diet is not sustainable, there are many ready-made options available. Read on to find out how to choose the best dog food for your dog.
2. Type of food – kibble, canned, dehydrated or raw
Consider the different types of ready-made dog food, their advantages, and disadvantages. There are many different types of dog food found in the market – dry, wet, semi-moist, cooked frozen, raw frozen, and everything else in-between.
Let’s start with the basics – dry (kibble), wet (canned), raw dehydrated and raw frozen. Once you understand these basics, then you can browse our full catalogue of dog food products to figure out exactly what dog food is right for your new dog.
Kibble is easy to feed and easy to store away. You do not require huge freezer or cupboard space for storing, and feeding is just a matter of scoop and serve. Kibble is also the most affordable, compared to the other types of dog food.
When buying kibble, always check the ingredients. The ingredients are listed from the highest quantity by weight to the lowest quantity by weight.
- The first ingredient listed on the ingredient panel must be a whole meat source and not meat meal or meat by-products.
- Look through the ingredients to see if the product contains multiple meat sources or a single meat source. This is especially important if your dog is allergic to certain meat.
- Avoid food dyes like Titanium dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Blue 2.
Pros: Kibbles are easy to feed and it's the most affordable out of all the options
Cons: Processed and can contain poor quality ingredients. Will require careful analysis of ingredients
Canned dog food has been around for about 100 years. It is one of the earliest commercially available dog food even before kibbles were invented. There is no doubt that your dog would prefer canned food over dry kibble as wet canned food generally has a more alluring aroma. Similarly, like kibbles, lower quality canned food can contain meat by-products and artificial flavouring instead of whole meat sources.
Canned food is convenient. Pop open the can and feed. It can be stored for years! Unopened canned dog food can be stored for up to 5 years but do check the manufacturing and expiry date. Once opened, unfinished canned food should be stored in the fridge for not more than 4 days.
Most cans are lined with plastic containing Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA can leach into your dog’s food, and there’s a concern that accumulation of BPA in the dog’s body can lead to neurological and endocrine disruptions. To date, FDA says its own review shows that BPA is safe.
Pros: Wet canned food is easy to feed and store
Cons: BPA concerns, and pricier than kibbles
Raw diet can be frozen raw or dehydrated. Raw diet is the least processed and is closest to a dog’s primordial diet. Dog owners will choose raw over other types of diet because of its high nutrient bioavailability, and minimal fillers.
Feeding a raw diet does require extra care to avoid food contamination and frozen raw food will require additional freezer storage space.
You can consider feeding freeze-dried or air-dried raw food if you do not have the freezer space. Most air-dried dog food are easy to feed. Like kibbles, just scoop and serve. Freeze-dried raw food will require rehydration. Rehydrate with some warm water for 3 mins, and then serve.
Do not leave unfinished raw food around, clean up any mess and remove unfinished food immediately to avoid cross contamination.
Pros: High nutrient bioavailability, minimal fillers, no artificial flavourings
Cons: Take extra care to avoid cross contamination, freezer space is required for storage (raw frozen)
3. Special dietary requirements
Once you have decided on the type of food, then choose a formula according to your dog’s dietary requirements.
- Limited Ingredient: Limited ingredient foods are made with fewer ingredients, usually a single meat source, to help aid digestion and minimize allergic reaction.
- Grain-Free: Grain-free food is made without grains which can trigger allergies and intolerances in certain dogs.
If you suspect your dog is allergic to certain protein sources OR may have a medical condition, please consult your vet. If your dog does have a medical condition, your vet may prescribe a special diet. Please discuss with your vet before changing your dog’s diet to avoid any adverse reaction.
4. Life stages and breed
Large breed puppies are especially sensitive to mineral deficiencies or excess, and this can lead to skeletal malformations. Choose a formula according to your dog’s life stage and breed.
- Puppy formula: Puppy formulas are designed to support the growth and development of the puppy and are made in smaller kibble sizes to fit their tiny mouths.
- Adult formula: Adult formulas are for dogs 1 years and above.
- Senior formula: Senior formulas are designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of senior dogs. The age to start your dog on a senior formula depends entirely on the breed, but usually from 7 years onwards. Do talk to your veterinarian to determine the right age to start your dog on a senior formula.
- All Life Stages formula: All life stages formulas are made to feed dogs of any life stages, from puppy to senior.
- Small/Toy Breed: They have a nutritional profile and smaller kibble sizes for smaller dogs.
- Large Breed: The kibble is usually larger-sized and formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a larger dog.
Finally, depending on the nutritional value of your dog’s diet and health concerns, you may require supplementation.
Some breeds are prone to certain health issues. For example, breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia like Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers can benefit from supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. Do discuss with your vet and consider supplementation, if necessary.
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A certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist, Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist and more, Katherine believes we can unlock the innate healing potential of our pets and is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing happy, healthy pets.