I am not an expert, nor should any of us have to be to feed our dogs good food. I am simply a regular dog person reading a lot and talking to a number of people to get ideas on how to weed out the bad dog food dates to find the good ones.Photo Credit: Erin Erb Photography
How do we possibly choose the best dog food amongst the myriad of choices out there? No worries, there’s a way.
First, narrow down the field by getting an idea of what type of dog food to consider dating. The dog food type choice is mostly based on: time, interest and budget.
The Dog Food Types
Here are 5 basic types of dog food we’ll be choosing from:
- Ready-To-Eat (Dried)
Includes kibble and commercially dried raw. This is the most convenient type since all we have to do is measure and pour.
There’s quite a variety available, including raw. Canned is also convenient, it just takes a couple extra steps to open the can, and possibly store leftovers in the fridge.
- Dehydrated (and freeze-dried)
The least bulky (great for travelers!), requires water to be added for reconstitution. It is easy to prepare, it just takes an extra step to stir and wait a couple minutes before serving.
- Raw (Commercial)
Includes mostly ready-to-eat commercially formulated raw foods. You may need to add vitamins, minerals and other additions to round out the diet. Most of the time we spend on the raw type is for the up-front research. Once you know what your dogs need and have a routine it should be fairly easy. Raw often requires a fridge or freezer for storing.
Recipes include cooked meals as well as raw food mixtures. HomeMade requires you to do enough research to make sure your dog is getting everything he/she needs nutritionally. (An added benefit is you could share some meals with your dogs!) HomeMade takes the most time, both in up-front research, and routine cooking. Often people will cook large batches to freeze so that subsequent mealtimes are quick.
Choosing a Dog Food Type Based on Time
I first considered a dog food type by how much time and interest (or, confidence) I have in preparing my dogs’ foods (the infographic below helps guide this decision.)
After narrowing down how much time/interest I could invest on a regular basis, I then looked at my budget. I figured that the time/interest factor was more important than the budget factor since there are many ways to make the ideal dog food type match a specific budget.
For example, if we have an interest in cooking for our dogs, there are all sorts of creative ways to make it happen budget-wise. But if we realistically do not have the time or energy to create homemade meals and we are eating mostly prepared meals ourselves because of lack of time, homemade dog food is not going to happen no matter our budget.
I will consider the budget issue in a little more detail later in this series.
Choosing a Specific Dog Food
In the next post of this series Dog Food Matchmaking I will talk about food sources and ingredients. Let’s hold off on actually choosing a specific food until we consider the importance of ingredients: you may even find yourself reconsidering your ideal dog food type.
My dog Zoe recently stopped being interested in the good kibble I’d chosen long ago. That’s when I decided to embark on this “dog food dating” journey. (Zack still eats anything and asks questions later.)
Using the “How Convenient” infographic above, keeping in mind Zoe’s preferences, I choose to move from kibble to dehydrated. Later, when I have more time and history with dehydrated, I will start cost comparing dog food types. I’d hate to end up compromising on my dog’s food based on erroneous budget assumptions. But for now, dehydrated is my choice.
I used to poo-poo options like raw and homemade (or, homemade raw!), thinking those were for the eccentrics of the world. But the more I read about nutrition and what happens at dog food factories, I’m more inclined to believe homemade and raw are not eccentric at all. Instead, they are wholesome and natural choices. But they are not for everyone.
I make no judgments whatsoever on the good folks who are limited in time, energy and interest and need to go with processed foods. Just the fact that you’ve read this far in the interest of your dogs is awesome. I do implore, however, that even when we are without luxury of free time that we still take a moment to find one of the better options available in the dog food type we’ve chosen. See tomorrow’s post for help with this.
It is important to take your dog to your vet on a regular basis and to discuss nutrition for your dogs with your vet. Even if you decide to agree to disagree with your veterinarian, your dog benefits when your dog’s health care professional knows what they are eating.
For those debating between Dry Dog Food and Canned types, DogFoodAdvisor offers a comparison (read this.)
Read More in this Series
Part 1 proposed a plan to find the “perfect” dog food.
Part 2 recognizes that dog food choices are personal (like dating).
Part 3 outlines basic nutritional requirements for dogs.
Part 4 discusses driving forces behind dog food decision making.
Part 5 helps us narrow down our dog food choices by being picky about ingredients.
Part 6 discusses cost estimates and success factors. It is the final entry in this series.