My black lab Bentley held on for dear life as I took her from the arms of her first owner. She trembled in the back seat, but once we got her home, she adjusted quickly.
The first thing we did was purchase pet supplies, such as dog food. I was hesitant to get cheap food for her, but I thought I was getting the best brand when I purchased Purina Puppy Chow. I researched the food and verified the ingredients—to me it was an OK brand, but the more I researched dog food, the more I learned.
Dr. Steven Ward of Ward Veterinary Clinic in El Dorado, Ark., said that it is true that the major ingredient listed on the dog-food label is the first ingredient in the brand, but it is not necessarily true that meat has to be the first ingredient listed. Ward said to look at percentages and ingredients combined, not percentages alone to determine what is best for your dog. For instance, 30 percent protein does not always mean it is the best digested dog food.
He says you can look at dogs from the same litter and tell which ones have better dog food based on their coats alone.
After receiving his input, I researched a few natural dog-food brands and found some interesting information:
• Blue Buffalo (various formulas) has good quality grains and fruits and a moderate amount of meat.
• AvoDerm, Blue Buffalo, Innova, Nature's Recipe, Nutro (some formulas) and Simply Nourish have no corn.
• AvoDerm (various formulas), Blue Buffalo, Castor & Pollux, Fresh Pet Deli Fresh, Innova, Nutro (some formulas), Simply Nourish, and Stewart Fresh to Home, have real meat, fish, or poultry as the number one ingredient. (Source: dogfoodadvisor.com)
I found that each dog is different, and there is a dog food brand and formula for each dog's need. For Bentley, we feed her dry dog food from Johnson Milling Company in Clinton (100 Belmont St., 601-924-5015). The food has high fat and high protein for our very active, very large dog. She needs only one cup per day, and we know it's good food because she is well-built and her coat is really shiny.
Knowing that the food we give Bentley aids her growth and development makes me happy. After all, we strive to take care of ourselves—why not our four-legged friends?
What to Look for in Good Dog Food
Just like human food, it's important to look at the labels on dog food to ensure your four-legged friend is happy and healthy.
Here are some questions to ask while choosing dog food:
• What are your dog's needs? This includes age, weight and activity level.
• What are the main ingredients? Ingredients are listed by weight so this means that the first one may not be the most important. As a general rule, ingredients with the most moisture will be at the top.
• What does the nutritional adequacy statement say? This is a way to whether the food meets your dog's needs. The label should have a statement that tells how the adequacy was determined.
• What does your veterinarian say? This is the most important question you should ask. Just as with humans, it's always best to consult an expert when choosing the right food for your four-legged friend.
Dry versus Wet Food
• Wet food may contain more meat content
• Wet food gives more hydration and moisture
• Dogs susceptible to dental problems may need more dental care with wet food.
• Wet food has a low shelf life
• Dry food costs less
• Dry food has a higher shelf life
• Dry food has less moisture but can give the dog the same nutrients as wet food.