If you've been thinking of changing Buster's diet to a more natural way of eating, you aren't alone. More people are concerned about the quality of food their pups eat and pet food companies are responding by providing food without preservatives such as ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propylene glycol, TBHQ and propyl gallate or corn, wheat, barley, rice or other cereal grains. You have quite a few choices for Buster's menu options now.
A Few Things to Start
More people are choosing to feed their pets diets that are closer to their wild roots. These diets focus on easy-to-digest animal fats and meat-based protein. Dogs need carbohydrates too, so more “natural” foods tend to focus on vegetables instead of grains -- grains are more difficult for Buster to digest and may cause allergies. Preservatives are also under more scrutiny, as some chemical preservatives come with health risks. Cooked and shelved dog foods, however, require some method of preservation.
Commericially Available Cooked Dog Food
Grain-free foods are more expensive, however you probably won't have to feed Buster as much, so the actual cost may not be that different. Avoiding preservatives in commercial dog food is difficult. Some manufacturers use natural preservatives, such as tocopherol and ascorbate, which are antioxidents. Wellness, Evangers, Blue Buffalo, California Natural, Canidae, Fromm, Innova and Wysong are just a few brands offering grain-free dry dog food. Newman's Own, Merrick, Weruva and Wysong are a few grain-free wet dog food options. Blue Buffalo, Orijen, Nature's Variety, Evo, Innova, California Natural and Dr. Tim's manufacture dog food using natural preservatives.
Commercially Available Raw Dog Food
Though the wisdom of feeding raw food to pets is debated, this practice is becoming more popular. The potential benefits of a raw food diet include healthier skin, cleaner teeth, shinier coats, compact feces and higher energy levels. Risks include threat of bacteria, potential hazards from whole bones -- such as choking or breaking teeth -- and an unbalanced diet. Mostly grain-free as well as preservative free commercial raw food brands include Primal, Steve's Real Food, Lotus Dog Food, Vital Essentials Dog Food, Darwin's Natural Selections, OC Raw Dog Food and Nutrisca Freeze Dried.
The best way to control Buster’s diet is to do the cooking yourself. It takes time and will require you to do your homework, but you will meet his nutritional needs without the addition of grains and preservatives. Founders Veterinary Clinic provides a basic table as a guideline for ingredients necessary for a healthy diet. This table lists sources of meat protein, non-meat protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables, as well as supplements.
- WebMD: Raw Dog Food: Dietary Concerns, Benefits, and Risks
- Dog Food Advisor: The Dangerous World of Dog Food Preservatives
- Dog Food Advisor: The Best Grain Free Dog Foods
- PetMD: Contrasting Grain-based and Meat-based Diets for Dogs
- WebMD: How to Read a Dog Food Label
- PetMD: The Pros and Cons of Preservatives in Dog Foods
- Dog Food Advisor: Suggested Raw Dog Foods
- Founders Veterinary Clinic: Home Cooking: The Alternative to Pet Foods