Pets

How To Avoid Poor Quality Dog Foods For Your Pup

Your new furry friend deserves the best of everything, including the best food. Unfortunately, not all dog food is created equal, and you might feel overwhelmed when you see the number of options available. Misleading marketing can make it difficult to sort out the truth about any given product, and food labels are never easy to read. However, with a few tips and your veterinarian’s advice, you can steer clear of the duds and find the perfect dog food for your pup.

Select “complete and balanced” dog foods

These magic words are not just catchy advertising; they are the official seal from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that a certain food contains the nutrients that dogs need. This is called the nutritional adequacy statement, and it can help you feel at ease that the food you are giving your puppy is well-rounded. The AAFCO upholds strict standards for pet foods, and its seal of approval is a good first step in evaluating a food for your dog.

Look for the age, weight and breed recommendations

Some dog owners mistakenly believe that their puppy is just a smaller version of an adult dog, but dogs need different nutrient formulations at different stages of their lives. Puppies, for instance, need a more calorie-dense diet to fuel their growing bodies. A quality dog food label will clearly state that it is suitable for puppies or for “all life stages.”

Avoid grain-free foods

Unless your pup has been officially diagnosed with a grain allergy, don’t fall for the hype of grain-free dog food. Dogs are not strict carnivores and thrive on a diet that includes meat, grains, fruits and vegetables. These ingredients are not “fillers,” they are essential to your puppy’s health and well-being. In fact, scientists are currently exploring an apparent link between grain-free diets and heart disease in some dog breeds.

Know the code words of nutritional labeling

The wording used to describe any given food can actually tell you how much of it is included in the formula. For example, simple words like “beef” or “chicken” indicate that the protein makes up 95% of the total product. Additional words like “dinner,” “platter,” “entree,” or “nuggets” are used when the protein comprises 25% of the total product. The word “with” is used to indicate that the ingredient comprises 3% of the formula. Finally, stay far away from products that only list beef or chicken “flavoring.” This means that only a trace amount is present. A trace amount of protein certainly is not enough for your growing pup!

Ask the pet food company about sourcing

Though quality control and sourcing information is not required on pet food labels, you can always call the pet food company and inquire. Speaking with a customer service representative about where ingredients are sourced from can really tell you a lot about a company’s reputability and openness. If the company has nothing to hide, they will be all too glad to tell you about the high-quality ingredients they use.

The food that you choose for your puppy can have a huge impact on their life. Selecting a high-quality food that is rich in nutrients can help your pup grow strong, avoid disease, and live a long and happy life. Though a low-quality food may be temptingly cheap, it may cost you more in the end through veterinarian’s bills and worry over your beloved pup. Armed with these tips and a little guidance from your trusted veterinarian, you are ready to pick a brand and formula that not only fits your budget but also fits your pup’s needs.

Top Things Every First Time Dog Owner Should Know

Congratulations! Having a new dog in your life is exciting, but if you’re a first time dog owner, there are important things you need to know. While there is much more to learn about caring for a dog than you’ll read here today, these six expert tips will help you get off to a great start.

Dog-proofing your home is a must

New pets are curious and want to check out everything — including things that could be dangerous. Get on your hands and knees and look at things from your dog’s level. What do you see? Good precautions include securing cabinet doors where toxic chemicals are stored, making sure electrical cords are out of reach and moving potentially toxic houseplants to higher ground.

Don’t anthropomorphize. Dogs are not people, too!

Canine behaviorists warn that dogs don’t experience many uniquely human emotions. Feelings like guilt, anger and spite are not part of how dogs operate. It’s a common mistake to anthropomorphize dogs — treat them as if they have the same characteristics as humans — but it leads to fundamental communication errors.

It’s tempting to try to frame your puppy’s antics in a way you understand, but thinking your dog ate your best shoes because he was mad at you for being gone too long leads to training mistakes that too often result in short, unhappy relationships.

Boot camp should start on day one

It’s never too early to teach your puppy good manners. Define your expectations for your dog’s behavior and don’t fall into the trap of allowing naughty habits because it’s cute or because you think she doesn’t know any better — of course she doesn’t!

Dogs aren’t born inherently knowing what acceptable behavior is in a human household. Good manners must be taught and consistently reinforced. Helping your dog be a model citizen is the key to many happy years together.

Socialized dogs are the best companions

Many troublesome canine behaviors develop because of lack of socialization. Pets of any age can benefit from training to make them more situation-friendly, but making your dog comfortable with a wide range of people, places and activities is best approached before he’s four months old.

If you want a dog that is relaxed and well-behaved in any setting, start socialization early. Take him for road trips and visits to the pet store. Let him romp in the dog park and meet new friends. Ultimately, your dog’s familiarity with most situations will determine his comfort level and his behavior.

Nutrition counts

There is no specific formula for how often you should feed your dog, but what you put in his bowl should meet all of his nutritional needs. Check the label for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that certifies the food is “complete and balanced” for your dog’s life stage. Foods for puppies, adult and senior dogs are formulated differently and the subtle differences can make a significant health impact.

When considering which dog food to by, price isn’t always a guarantee of optimal nutrition, but brands with superior ingredients get better results. Your dog will have a healthy coat that sheds less and there will be less to pick up in the pooper scooper!

Create a rainy day fund for pet care expenses

Some pet care expenses are predictable and there should be room in the budget for food and basic veterinary care, but surprise costs can threaten to derail your financial plans or worse, put you in a position in which you can’t give your dog the care he needs.

Things like boarding fees if you have to go out of town or medical care for a significant injury can add up quickly. Pet insurance is an option for veterinary bills, but starting a rainy day fund the day you bring your new dog home will cover the unexpected.

Building a relationship with your new dog takes time and patience, but with a little know-how, you’ll be on the right track. Relax, have fun, and don’t worry — you’ll learn the rest along the way.