Any good pet owner will know that a dog is part of the family.
You wouldn’t feed yourself and your children just any old food so why should things be any different with your furry friends?
The dog food market is absolutely saturated these days. The choice can seem overwhelming. A serious issue is that many of the cheaper foods are stuffed with additives, colorings and flavorings that make them the canine equivalent of junk food.
Today, we’ll have a look at back to basics dog food.
This type of food is known as holistic dog food so before anything else, let’s investigate exactly what that means…
Holistic dog food: Getting back to basics
One of the awkward things about holistic dog food is that there is no cut-and-dried definition that carries any legal weight. That means that, much like in the human supplement industry, it’s easy to fall prey to the marketing hype of companies that use this word simply to sell more products.
The best way to think about holistic, back to basics dog food is food that is balanced.
All ingredients are chosen with a specific health benefit in mind. The idea is to consider the overall health of the dog and to focus on ingredients tailored for particular health needs.
Because of the huge variation in the nutritional requirements of different dogs, there’s a significant difference in the contents of holistic food.
What are the benefits of holistic dog food?
Although holistic dog food might not be especially cheap, there is an array of benefits that make it well worth consideration…
Some general advice about dog food
We’ll now walk you through some things to consider when you are thinking about back to basics dog food…
- Nutritional Content
- First Ingredient
- Organic Food
- Medical Pointers to Consider
- Quality Control
1. Nutritional content
It goes without saying that not all dog food is created equal when it comes to its nutritional content.
The same is true about the protein in the food. Shoot for food with protein from good sources. This is key to deliver your dog the nutrients he needs. It’s particularly important for puppies or any dog suffering from diabetes. Back to basics food almost always contains plenty of high quality protein. Be sure to check out the meat or fish content and buy accordingly.
Like with us humans, dogs also need plenty of carbohydrates for energy. Look for grains, fruits, beans and potatoes on the ingredients list. Carbs also deliver antioxidants and fiber along with a range of nutrients crucial for proper functioning of the intestine.
Think carefully about what you choose to put into your dog’s body. In return, he will stay in peak condition.
Different dog foods have different types and amounts of minerals.
Keep an eye out for copper which some breeds find difficult to tolerate. By building up in the organs, it can provoke serious health problems.
With Siberian huskies, make certain they eat a diet rich in zinc. Failure to take this into account can bring about skin problems.
3. First ingredient
When you check out the label on the dog food, you’ll see ingredients listed in order of the amount of them in the food.
While meat might often be listed first, bear in mind that meat has 70% water content and this is allowed to be counted. This is why the amount of protein can seem surprisingly low even if meat features front and center. For this reason, it’s generally the second protein that is really the primary source of protein so don’t be tricked by this.
4. Organic food
While the definition of holistic or back to basics dog food is fairly fluid, when it comes to organic food, it’s a much stricter set of criteria…
Unless at least 95% of all ingredients were naturally, organically raised, a dog food is not labeled organic.
If this dips down to 70%, you might see the claim “made from organic ingredients.”
Bear this important distinction in mind if you are hell-bent on giving your dog the very best food money can buy.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the taste of dog food. Dogs like different things much like we do.
Rather than endlessly serving up the same flavor, why not mix it up a little and strive for some variety in your dog’s diet? He might not be able to let you know but you can be sure he’ll be grateful for a change of flavor. How would you like spaghetti Bolognese twice a day every day? Think of your dog’s palate in the same way.
Sometimes, merely the smell of a particular food might be enough to put your dog off eating it so you need to experiment and find out what works best for you.
When it comes to the texture of the food, some dogs prefer dry and crunchy food while others would far sooner wolf down wet, canned food. Pay close attention to the texture if your dog is experiencing any dental problems.
6. Medical pointers to consider
There is no substitute for talking with your vet in the event of your dog suffering any type of health issue. Your vet can prescribe specific foods if necessary.
Active puppies constantly running around need a high protein diet. The same is true if your adult dog has heart disease.
For dogs with ailing kidneys (a common flashpoint) or a bad liver, the opposite is the case. Focus on low protein dog foods instead.
Any incidence of cancer means you should dial right back on the carbs you feed your dog. This helps to choke out the cancer cells and can prevent the disease from spreading. It’s not a cure but it certainly helps.
You can also get food with a high or low calorie count so whether your dog needs to put on some weight or lose a few pounds, get the right type of food.
While many types of back to basics dog food are quite readily available, other more specialized foods need a prescription. Some foods you’ll find in the supermarket while others are in specialty pet stores. You can also, of course, buy dog food online. This often represents the best value for money.
8. Quality control
For this reason, take claims made my manufacturers with a pinch of salt. Do plenty of research so you are confident that these claims actually hold weight and are not just a marketing ploy.
We’ll take a brief look now at some of the options at your disposal when it comes to choosing the most suitable type of back to basics food for your dog…
Different types of dog food
There are 3 main types of dog food in terms of its consistency:
- Dry Dog Food
- Canned Dog Food
- Semi-Moist Dog Food
1. Dry dog food
This hard, dry food comes in pellet or biscuit form. Your dog uses his back teeth to crack the little chunks of food.
Dry food is the cheapest option so it’s great for anyone on a tight budget. You won’t need to think about any kind of special storage methods and the bags are easy to seal.
The inbuilt flaw with dry dog food is that it’s packed with preservatives which is inadvisable. It tends to be less filling as there’s little water content. It can also be harder to eat for dogs with any kind of dental problems.
2. Canned dog food
Canned dog food tends to have far fewer preservatives than the dry alternative. This is due to being cooked at extremely high temperatures to insure that it remains sterile. There are also generally less artificial flavorings and colorings so it’s a far healthier option.
With a great deal of water content, your dog will feel full after eating less. This is great news if he needs to lose a few pounds. The soft consistency and lack of hard chunks means it’s easier for your dog to eat.
On the flipside, canned food is more expensive and storing opened cans can be messy and smelly so it’s not quite as convenient as a large bag of dried food.
3. Semi-moist dog food
If you’re wondering why you can’t have the best of both worlds, you can!
Semi-moist food is halfway between dry and wet food so offers a reasonable compromise. Produced in chunks or pellets, this type of food is pretty soft yet chewy at the same time.
More filling than dry food but with only half the water content of canned food, it makes a great balance between filling your dog and not overstuffing him.
This food is easy on your dog’s teeth so it’s great if your pet has any problems with is teeth.
Price-wise, it’s somewhere in between dry and canned food.
Storage is straightforward.
For many reasons, this semi-moist dog food is the smart choice.
How does natural dog food differ from cheap, low quality food?
Perhaps the best way to compare cheap, mass-market dog food with back to basics, natural food is this…
It’s really like the difference between you popping to a fast food chain or visiting an upscale restaurant.
With cheap food, you get low-cost ingredients, less money spent on production and an inferior product with none of the goodness your dog so badly needs. The result of forcing your dog to consume junk food is the likelihood of a series of health problems. Poor ingredients and too much filler can bring about a dull coat, lackluster eyes, far too little energy and issues with the bowels. Your dog has no choice what you feed him. Don’t give him second best.
Good back to basics kibble, on the other hand, will have him bounding all over the place and looking in the rudest of health.
Is back to basics dog food expensive?
Not surprisingly, top-notch dog food costs more than low-quality food. That’s understandable and the best things in life are rarely free.
Much of the more expensive holistic food contains ingredients fit for human consumption which obviously ratchets up the price.
It makes sense, though, to consider the bigger picture rather than purely the bottom line. If you opt for superior food, you might actually save money in the long run. By ensuring that you place a premium on your dog’s health, you could very well end up paying much less on vets bills or medications.
The crowning advantage of better quality dog food is that your dog is much more likely to live longer. That alone should make it a price worth paying.
What ingredients to avoid in dog food
While you might think you are well informed about what you’re feeding your dog, so many dog foods are packed with ingredients that are pretty inadvisable.
If you think about any junk food that you eat, the list of ingredients is a mile long and most of them don’t do you the slightest bit of good. The same is true with a great deal of commercial dog food.
Generally, the poorer the quality of the food, the more care the manufacturer will take to mask the information you should be looking out for.
Be on guard.
Don’t fall for the baseless health claims or pictures of a German shepherd racing through a field. Focus on the ingredients and the label rather than things on the packaging put there to distract you.
- There are hundreds of articles pointing out a range of different ingredients to avoid. There’s no definitive list but there are a few common culprits you should sidestep at all costs…Wheat: Wheat is healthy from a human perspective but it’s bad news for your dog. The gluten in wheat can bring about bothersome allergic reactions in canines. Also, while your dog can digest oatmeal, brown rice and other grains without undue difficulty, their systems struggle badly with wheat.
- Corn: Corn in dog food divides opinion. On one side, there’s a valid argument to make for corn as a source of protein and fiber. On the other, it can provoke allergies and is fundamentally little more than filler. Whatever your thoughts, it’s a smart move to shun dog food with corn as one of the leading ingredients.
- Soy: Soy contains phytoestrogens. These chemicals can bring about serious health problems. Soy can also trigger allergies. Despite these drawbacks, it’s often thrown into dog food since it’s a cheap source of protein.
- Artificial Flavors: Since a lot of cheap dog food is understandably tasteless (or, worse still, tastes bad), artificial flavoring is regularly used to compensate. Foods laced with these unnatural flavorings are as bad for your dog as they are for you.
- Artificial Preservatives: These are obviously used to make food last longer. Artificial preservatives undeniably get the job done but they can be carcinogenic and are best left well alone.
- Colorings: Your dog couldn’t care less what color his food is. Why should you? There’s simply no need for coloring so stay vigilant and vote with your feet.
- Sweeteners: Void of any nutritional value, any sweeteners like fructose, corn syrup or sugar offer your dog nothing except empty calories while ruining their teeth into the bargain.
- By-Products: While it’s not true that all by-products in dog food are bad, most certainly are. All sorts of leftovers from dead animals unfit for our food are tossed into dog food and there is no need for this whatsoever.
- Fillers: A filler provides no goodness and is purely added to increase the manufacturer’s profits. From bran through to husks and hulls, these bulking agents are a pure waste of time from a nutritional standpoint.
As a rule of thumb, think twice about any ingredients that sound like a chemical or contain numbers. Watch out for the above offenders and keep your dog happy, healthy and well fed.
Raw dog food: What’s the deal?
Dogs are carnivores who have always eaten meats and bones. If you think back to the pre-pet days when canines would prowl and scavenge for food, it was always these things they would hunt out.
Since very little has changed with their teeth, jaws and digestive systems, it makes perfect sense to continue feeding them what works best.
Raw dog food diets offer all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need without depriving them of anything.
While it might not be for everyone, feeding your dog raw foods is something you might well take into consideration. If you do so, it pays to ease them into gently rather than making a sudden and complete shift that could upset them.
You can give their immune systems a boost and keep their skin and coat healthy while making sure they get all the energy they need.
We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of back to basics dog food and the best way to deliver your beloved pet the nutrition he needs for a long, healthy life.
As always, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback at all. This site is always designed with our readers in mind. If you have anything you’d like us to look into, just let us know.
Now get some back to basics dog food into your dog’s bowl and see the many health benefits it will bring.