If you’re getting ready to welcome a new dog to your home, congratulations! You’re about to embark on one of the most satisfying, rewarding and memorable relationships you’ll ever have. You’re also probably wondering about what kind of food to feed him. Dog food, like human food, comes in a large range of brands and formulas. Is dry food better than soft? Does going organic matter? The answer, you’ll find, is right at home.
Whether you’re purchasing your dog from a breeder or you’re adopting him from a shelter or foster home, you already have an important resource available. Find out what food he currently eats, and then evaluate his health. Clear eyes and ears, a shiny coat, ample energy, healthy teeth and breath are all good indicators of his overall wellness.
Issues such as itching, diarrhea, a smelly and greasy coat, unclear eyes and ears, excess tartar and aggressive behavior may all indicate a problem that may, in part, be treated with dietary measures. If your dog is healthy, switching to a different formula is inadvisable.
Certain breeds are prone to certain problems. The food your dog eats can affect allergies, metabolism disorders and cancer. The Cocker Spaniel, for example, is prone to food allergies as well as a metabolism disorder that causes copper buildup in the liver. You should avoid feeding your dog copper-rich foods in this case. Other breeds might require extra zinc to avoid a zinc metabolism disorder.
If you’re not purchasing your dog from a breeder, try contacting the breed’s national organization to learn more about the types of food most commonly recommended. You can also contact the American Kennel Club.
Ask Your Vet
Don’t forget to ask your vet about the brands that make the most sense for your dog. This may change as he ages, and especially if he develops a disease such as cancer. Your vet will know from experience what food brands are generally helpful for certain breeds, but these brands probably won’t be the same from dog to dog. Especially talk to your vet if your dog has a chronic problem such as itching or flaking skin, digestive problems, frequent flea outbreaks and more.
Check the Ingredients (But Use Common Sense)
Whole foods and vegetables — instead of processed food — are the preferred choices when it comes to selecting a brand. Expensive organic formulas may make your dog sick, while a grocery store brand may keep him happy and healthy. Don’t let a friend, or even the breeder, pressure you into using a certain brand if it clearly makes your dog ill.
The bottom line? Start with what your dog is already eating if he is healthy. Research breed-specific recommendations for more information, speak with your vet if there are any health issues to consider, and watch your dog carefully for signs of illness. When you’ve chosen the right food for your dog, the answer will be right there at home.