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Article: How to Choose Healthy Dog Food

Have you ever scanned the ingredients in a commercial dog food and thought, "How can this be healthy?" Well, unfortunately most pet foods available in stores today are so highly processed and full of preservatives, they aren't any better for our dogs than potato chips are for humans. So before your dog takes another bite, read these tips on how to find the healthiest food for your pooch.

Steps
Understand a typical dog's diet consists of 40% protein, 30% fiber and 30% starch. Choose pet food with this ingredient ratio. Read the guaranteed analysis to be certain.
Ensure the first ingredient listed on the label is a form of protein such as chicken or pork (not meat by-products). Cornmeal is used as a filler and is a low-quality source of protein. Avoid animal digest and animal fat which is highly indigestible.

A well-planned vegetarian diet works well for dogs. In fact, there are several commercial vegetarian dog foods available on the market. Dogs need PROTEIN, but not necessarily *animal* protein. Would a dog naturally be vegetarian? No. He also wouldn't naturally eat dog cookies or live in your home with you or do tricks either. Be aware that while preservatives may be necessary to keep the food edible, preservatives do not have to be artificial chemicals that might be cancer-causing agents. Vitamin E & vitamin C are great preservatives that are much better for your dog. Choose Super Premium Brand dog foods or Premium Brand dog foods instead of Economy Brand dog foods. The cheapest ingredients are rarely the healthiest ones. Go holistic. Holistic foods such as the Wellness brand or Canidae brand are 100% natural and 100% nutritious. They contain human-grade ingredients. Consider this rule of thumb: If you wouldn't eat it, your dog probably shouldn't eat it either. (Think animal fat and added salt or sugar.) Also, beware of the first ingredients being items like "chicken by-product" or the like.

Tips
If you really want to know what's in your dog's food, try making your own dog food. There are plenty of recipes and meal plans available online. Consult with your veterinarian to make sure the diet is well-balanced.

Every dog, like every human, has different nutritional requirements. It is very important you check with your veterinarian to determine what foods best meet your pet's needs. A good way to see if your dog's diet is suitable is to check how it comes out the other end. No, you don't have to get too close to it, but as you pick it up in your poop scoop or baggie, check it for consistency and general appearance. A healthy dog's output should be firm and without any traces of blood or mucus.

When changing your dog’s food it is important to switch gradually, as it is easier on the dogs digestive system, and reactions to the new food will generally be less severe. It is recommended that you gradually increase the amount of new food in the following sequence: 1/7, 1/3, 1/1, 3/1, 7/1, and 1; this being the portion of new food to old food (first change: a total of 8 cups of food [that would be one big dog!] with one cup of new food with 7 cups of old food). Each change should be gradual with several days (5 days to a week is best) between changes. All in all it should take a month or more.

Warnings
Don't assume that your dog should eat what humans eat. "People food" such as chocolate, grapes, raisins and onions can be difficult for your dog to digest and toxic to his system.

Stephanie Raymond, WikiHow.com

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