Friday, August 29, 2014

Choosing to Switch to Natural Dog Food

Switching to natural dog food is not hard if you do a little research first and work with your veterinarian. Read the labels carefully and be prepared to try several brands before settling on the best natural dog food for your pet.

My Cocker Spaniel developed an extreme allergy to his premium dog food when he turned two years old. After a visit to the veterinarian it was recommended that I quickly change to a natural dog food. After a little research and a few trials we found some natural dog food that he liked and tolerated well for the rest of his life. Switching your pet to natural food is not that hard if you take the time to do a little homework and don't try to rush the process.

What Is Natural Dog Food?
Make sure you know what to look for when you go shopping for a natural dog food. Not all labels are what they seem, so a little research is required. According to the pet food standards set in 2001 by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), dog food can only use the word "natural" on the label if there are no chemically synthesized ingredients used in it, with the exception of synthetic vitamin or mineral additives. Read the label of the dog food before you buy. The AAFCO only sets standards, they are not responsible for upholding them. Look for meat as the first ingredient, unless your dog is allergic. Look for natural plant sources if your pet has major food allergies. One caution, my dog got very gassy from natural dog foods made with more vegetables than meat.

Get Natural Dog Food Recommendations from Your Veterinarian

Talk to your veterinarian about specific health issues with your pet. Is your dog too heavy? Does your dog need to put on weight? Have you noticed skin irritations or a flaky coat on your pet? These could all be related to the type of food you provide. Ask for recommendations on the best natural dog food for the breed and issues of your pet. Report back to the veterinarian with any changes, positive or negative, so they can keep your pet's files up to date.

Feed According to Package Directions

Buy the new dog food before you run out of the old brand, unless your pet is suffering from an allergic reaction. Slowly mix in the natural dog food with the other brand over the next few feedings to make the transition easier on the dog's digestive system. Add a little more natural food each time. Follow the amounts recommended on the side of the bag for best dietary and weight results. Remember the daily recommendation amounts are for a full day so split them up accordingly if you feed your dog more than once daily.

Ask for trial size bags if you are unsure what your dog will like for a flavor. If no trial sizes are available in the store, visit the brand's website and request one. Don't be disappointed if your dog doesn't eat as well in the first few days, especially if you've been feeding them table scraps or high fat food. If after a few days the dog is still not eating well try a different flavor of the same brand, or find another natural dog food brand.

You could add years to your pet's life by feeding a natural dog food. Talk to your veterinarian for the best recommendations for the dog breed and be prepared to try a few different brands. Follow the feeding instructions and you'll likely find you spend less on dog food too.

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