Best Dog Foods for the Active Dog


What Foods Are Safe to Feed Your Active Dog?

Diet can mean the difference between an energetic running partner and one that is lethargic, overweight and depressed. There are a lot of dog food brands on the market, and you might be wondering how you can choose the right one for your dog. Here is some dietary information to help your dog to live a long and happy life.

Spencer Juniper in the mountains 

Dog Food Ingredients That Are Generally Agreed Upon as Safe

The dog food industry is surprisingly unregulated and with recalls happening each year, so it’s important to stay informed on what ingredients are in your dog’s food. Holistic veterinarian, Patrick Mahaney, recommends dog foods that include whole-food, human-grade ingredients and that are preserved naturally by Vitamins C and E.

Examples of safe ingredients include:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Fish
  • Non-GMO vegetables: peas, carrots, spinach
  • Non-GMO fruit: blueberries, tomatoes, apples
  • Legumes: lentils and beans
  • Fats: extra virgin olive oil and flax seed oil

According to Mahaney, the key is to get the right ratios of nutrients through expert combinations of healthy ingredients. He also advises dog owners to get food that uses only hormone and antibiotic-free meats.

Harmful Dog Food Ingredients

Abe on trail with tongue out
The harmful ingredients that make their way into many commercial dog foods can be numerous. While some ingredients are low-nutrient fillers that are deemed relatively benign, here are just some examples of toxic ingredients that should be avoided.

– Artificial colors: Yellow 6 and Blue 2
– Artificial preservatives: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), Ethoxyquin and propylene glycol
– Fats: rendered animal fat, lard and poultry fat
– Flavorings: Animal digest
– All meat meal by-products

While the FDA has concluded that many of these ingredients are non-toxic to pets, independent tests and studies have cast doubt on the government’s findings. For instance, studies show that the artificial food dyes that are listed above caused tumors of the brain, adrenal gland and kidneys in laboratory mice. Also, the rendered animal fats and meat meal products that are named can legally be made from diseased critters or even those that died before they reached the slaughterhouse.

Best Diets by Dog Category

When you want to make sure that you’re getting sufficient nutrition, you likely consult with your doctor and get blood work done. The doctor can tell from the blood work if the vitamins and minerals in your blood are at adequate levels or not. Determining nutritional deficiencies in dogs is a little trickier since their smaller systems quickly respond to deficiencies by pulling minerals from sources such as bones and organs. Standard blood tests will likely return back normal results, and your pet will appear fine until symptoms of a nutritional deficiency appear. By the time these symptoms manifest and the doctor confirms a nutritional deficiency with a specific blood test, your dog will likely be critically ill.

Consulting a knowledgeable veterinary nutritionist is one of the most effective ways to determine your dog’s unique nutritional needs. He or she usually begins by evaluating your dog’s current diet and conducting a physical exam on your furry friend. From these types of analyses, they recommend dog-food brands that offer a balanced diet as well as high-quality supplements that correct any major deficiencies.

While every dog’s physical condition is a little different, there are some general dietary guidelines that veterinary nutritionists recommend for developing large and small breed puppies as well as aging senior dogs.

Sophie Milo Dog Running

Large Breed Puppies

Large breed puppies need lower-calorie foods that have lower levels of calcium. This type of formula promotes slow, steady growth. Higher levels of calcium in their diets can cause them to develop bone ailments such as hip dysplasia.

Small Breed Puppies

Small breed puppies need energy-dense, high-calorie diets because their metabolisms are higher than most other dogs.

Aging Dogs

Just like aging humans, dogs can develop joint problems. Dog foods for less active, senior pets usually have extracts like Yucca Schidigera for joint health. These formulas often contain taurine supplements to promote heart health and eyesight.

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