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Holistic Dog Food -What Should You Know?
Holistic Dog Food -What Should You Know?
There are a lot of dog food manufacturers out there making specialty foods. We see terms like "natural" and "organic" all the time. Most of us have a pretty good idea what those terms are supposed to mean. However, lately a new word has been cropping up on high end pet food packaging - "holistic." What does this term mean when it comes to dog food, and is it really worth the money to buy a holistic pet food brand? Here's a look at holistic dog food and some things you ought to know.
First, make sure you pay attention to regulation. Just like most other terms used on pet food packaging, we don't have a lot of regulation for the use of the term "holistic." That means that there's no external agency or organization checking up on manufacturers. We have to take their word for it on their ingredients and their processes. Researching your dog food independently can be a big help in determining who to trust.
Most holistic dog foods are made to the same philosophy - dogs should be healthy throughout, instead of in just one or two areas. Most food manufacturers avoid cheap filler ingredients, like corn, soy, and animal by products, in favor of higher quality ingredients like whole, named meat meals. They also use better processes that preserve the nutrient level of the food.
Many dog food manufacturers are basing their formulations off of holistic medical practices - the idea that we should treat the whole body, not just the symptoms. In many cases, that starts with eating a good quality, healthy diet. For dogs, that means choosing dog food ingredients that are easy for our pets to digest, natural, and unlikely to cause allergies. However, no company really does it the same way.
What can we rely on if labeling isn't regulated and no company does things exactly the same? We can rely on our own ability to research. Foods that use "holistic" as a labeling term are usually going to have quality ingredients and better manufacturing methods. We just can't know right away which one is best. This is why dog owners need to learn to do a little detective work.
Reading labels and learning what ingredients are best for your pet may take a while, but it'll help you get the holistic dog food your pet needs. Make certain you take the time to do the research, learn about your dog's food, and decide if the product you're thinking about buying is really good for whole body health. It's just worth it in the end.
Should You Pick Vegetarian Dog Food?
The number of vegetarians worldwide is growing as more people realize the health, ethical, and environmental benefits of going meat free. As more of us get used to the idea of eating meals that aren't meat based, we also wonder if meat is a good idea for our pets. After all, regular dog food is made up mostly of by products and other unwanted meat industry leftovers. That industry has a huge environmental impact, and is responsible for some real ethical abuses.
However, we also have to pay attention to the fact that our pet dogs are naturally meat eaters. That can lead to worries that vegetarian dog food might cause health problems. Here's a look at vegetarian dogs, their health and how long they live, and what happens when you feed a meat free diet.
What is a vegetarian? Lots of people disagree, with some people including animal foods like eggs and milk in their diet, and some others claiming to be vegetarian even though they eat some meats! However, the most commonly accepted definition of vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat meat of any kind, but does eat dairy products and eggs. Vegetarian dog foods generally include soy, grains, fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, beans, lentils and other legumes, and dairy products and eggs.
Fortunately, dogs aren't obligate carnivores the way cats are. They don't need vitamins that can only be found in meat. That means that, in theory, we can feed our dogs without it. However, getting that nutritional balance right can be really tricky. After all, a wild canid diet is highly varied. If your dog doesn't eat enough of an essential nutrient, you could end up with a sick pet. Dogs shouldn't eat too much in the way of carbohydrates, either, since that can cause digestive problems. Look for a good packaged vegetarian dog food - ideally one recommended by your vet - if you're concerned about nutrition.
Is your dog adjusting properly to a new vegetarian diet? Signs that he or she isn't include hair loss, mood and personality changes, digestive problems and a general sense of sluggishness. Remember that vegetarian protein replacements are among the foods most likely to cause allergic reactions. However, many dogs are entirely happy eating a good vegetarian diet. Remember that not all dogs respond well to vegetarian dog foods, and that you might have to feed your pet a meat based diet in the end. If you don't want to do this, you should be careful about the pet you choose, and adopt only a dog that has already successfully eaten vegetarian foods. If you'd like to make the switch to vegetarian dog food, buy only AAFCO tested food that meets all nutritional standards. Look at large pet stores or feed stores to get the best selection.
Another option, if your dog can't handle completely vegetarian dog food, is to choose foods made from ethically produced meats. Responsibly sourced plant foods, meat from animals raised under humane conditions, and other ethically produced ingredients could help you avoid the problems that come with feeding conventional dog food.