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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Choosing the Best Food for Your Dog

By Becky Streeter

Dogs will eat almost anything. Because of this, they completely rely on you to make right the decisions for them, but with all the current fads and multitudes of brands out there, it can get confusing fast. Below are the major diet plans, with pros and cons, to help you make the best choice for your furry friend.


Every brand has a slightly different recipe for dry food, but each is required by the USDA to be “safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.” Required ingredients include proteins, grains, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The ingredients are processed together and cooked, then a preservative is added to prevent the fat from becoming rancid. 

Potential benefits include healthier gums and reduced dental plaque, reduced risk of bacteria, ease of storage and preparation (bag to bowl!), and less risk of spoilage. This is also generally the least expensive diet for your pup. Not all brands are created equally, however, so be wary of ones with a high carbohydrate count, added sugar, or low-quality ingredients.


This diet is made up of natural ingredients such as cooked proteins and fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables. Benefits include a shiny coat, fresher breath, increased energy, good for heart health, and improved eyesight and stool. However, planning for this diet takes time, and it can get expensive. It can also be tricky to gauge the proper amounts you should feed your dog to make sure they get enough of the right things, and not too much of others. If you are interested in exclusively this diet for your pet, contact a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition for ideas to create a cooked homemade diet appropriate for your pet. 


Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst first suggested the idea of Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) in 1993, based on that of canines before they became domesticated: 70% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 7% vegetables, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organs, 2% seeds or nuts, and 1% fruit. 

You can purchase prepackaged items from the store or online, or create a meal plan yourself. The problem is that wolves used to eat the entire animal–muscle, organs, tendons, skin, bones and fur–to create a completely nourishing meal. This can be hard to replicate for your domesticated dog if you meal plan yourself. Although it can be expensive, if you choose this diet, it might be best to purchase prepackaged items.

No peer-reviews have been published for potential benefits of the raw foods diet, however testimonials say they have noticed shinier coats, healthier skin, higher energy levels, cleaner teeth, ease of digestion, and smaller stools. Documented risks of this diet include an unbalanced diet if not administered in the proper ratio, potential choking hazards or puncture wounds from unchewed bones, bacterial contamination from Listeria and Salmonella, and bacterial contamination to humans from handling or not properly sanitizing after handling. 

Ultimately, before making any drastic changes to your pet’s diet, consult your veterinarian. They are very educated and truly have your dog’s best interests in mind. Once you have your veterinarian’s input, and compiled your own research, it is really up to you how to best manage your dog’s health. 


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