About Goldens - Nutrition
Golden retrievers love to eat and they depend on us to make sure their daily meals are nutritious and safe. Since most of our dogs eat the same food day after day after day, providing them high quality food and keeping them at the appropriate weight are the two most important things we can do to insure our furry best friend a long and healthy life.
There are many varieties of dog food on the market, but that does not mean they are all good for your dog. When we go to the grocery store to buy food for our children, most of us are very careful about reading the label. With all the choices, it is increasingly important to educate yourself about the ingredients in your dog's food and to buy the most expensive dog food you can afford. Although the price may initially seem outrageous, as much as $2.00 a pound, owners soon discover that because of the high nutritional content they can feed less, and the dog's improved health eliminates costly trips to the vet for skin and ear problems.
High-quality dog food cannot be found at the grocery store or big-box discount chains. However, specialty pet stores and pet superstores offer many premium foods of excellent quality.
Carefully read and understand the label on the food you are buying. While reading the label, ask the following questions: Does the food use high quality ingredients? Is there a quality meat source as one of the first two ingredients? Is the bag dated for freshness?
- Look for the Ingredient Statement on the label.
- Read the first five ingredients. They play a significant role in the nutritional make-up of a food.
- What are the protein sources? Meat, meat and more meat products is what you should see. The primary source should come from quality animal protein, not vegetable protein or grain. Foods that list two or more grains in the first five ingredients may have more vegetable protein than animal protein.
- What about grains? Grains are in pet food because they're cheaper than meat products, and are needed to hold the kibble bits together, not because they're species-appropriate nutrition for a carnivorous mammal. Two or more grains listed in the first five ingredients means your food may have more vegetable protein than animal protein.
- Are there by-products? Some manufacturers consider by-products inferior sources of protein and, depending on the source, they can be difficult to digest. Foods containing any form of by-products, most especially those of indeterminate origin (“animal”, “poultry”, etc.) should be avoided.
- What about artificial additives? Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives – especially those believed to be carcinogenic or that are banned from use in the human food chain should be avoided. In dog food, principally these are BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate.
- What are the fat sources? Some fats are better than others. The primary fat source in dog food should be animal based because animal fats contain a profile of fatty acids that are easily digested. Meats and fats that are not identified by species should be avoided. These could literally be anything, and are almost certainly of very low quality.
Many nutritionists recommend switching brands and flavors of dog food every two to four months to assure the dog is eating a wide variety of nutrients. Avoid food with “exotic” proteins such as rabbit, pheasant, emu or venison unless prescribed by your vet. These meats are not needed for healthy dogs and if the dog needs them down the road to treat a medical condition it is important that there is no prior exposure.
Feed your dog vegetables and fruits as snacks. Choose foods of all colors such as carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, squash, apples , melon, etc. DO NOT FEED GRAPES, RAISINS AND ONIONS which are poisonous and be sure to check out any other fruit or vegetable not on this list to be sure it is OK for dogs to eat.
Don't buy more food than the dogs can eat in a month and store the food in a controlled environment in a closed container.
You can consult the Dog Food Analysis Web site for additional information and for ratings of a large number of dog foods or consider a subscription to The Whole Dog Journal. In addition to being a great source for information about dogs, this publication does the work for you and rates different brands of dog food once a year.