Trying to decide what brand of food to feed your dog? You’ve seen Purina, Eukanuba and Iams for years – but are these big brands what your dog really needs for a balanced nutrition? Make sure you read your labels so you really know what your dog is eating – not just the front tagline that says your dog will love it!

Unfortunately many major brand dog foods are filled with “fillers” like corn, other grains and bi-products of animals. When choosing your food make sure that the first ingredient is a protein: chicken, fish, red meat then followed by other ingredients. If it contains corn gluten or whole corn – put the bag down and continue to look for a different food.

The truth about corn and dogs: a little is ok, but if corn is fed regularly in your dog’s food will harm your dog’s digestive system. So stay safe and do not buy food with corn in it. If your dog food does have grain in it, look for oatmeal, brown rice, or potatoes as the source. These are much better for your dog’s digestive system than corn.

Fruits and veggies are essential to your dog’s health as well so look for a food that contains some of these as well. Peas, carrots, blueberries, pumpkin, apples, and spinach are all positive additions to their food.

You may be asking about the cost difference in less good for you dog food and higher quality dog food – obviously the better it is for your dog, it will increase the bill. However, this means a healthier pup – less visits to the vet, longer life span (let’s face it 15 years just isn’t enough time with our furry family members), shinier coat, clearer eyes and less bowel problems.

When you feed a higher protein food, that has less fillers in it, your dog will need to eat less because the nutrition that it is getting is more well rounded thus reducing their waste, which means less yard clean-up for you!

If your dog has a gas issue, look for a food that fish isn’t the main ingredient – as fish food can make your dog more gassy.

Does your dog have a sensitive stomach? Dogs get upset stomachs for any number of reasons. Growth spurts, stress, changing their dog food and eating rawhide or too many treats will cause digestive problems. Try adding a scoop of plain yogurt or canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) to their food – the yogurt provide probiotics that restore beneficial bacteria to the gut to aid in digestion and pumpkin helps with a dog that has diarrhea or constipation.

Raw food, is that for you? You may have heard of the raw food diet – feeding your dog raw meat. This is beneficial for dogs, as that is what they would eat in the wild, but they also need the nutrition of fruits, veggies and if you want to feed them healthy grains. Do your research if this is a diet you are interested in. If it seems like too much work, pick up some raw ribs and give your dog one, once a month or biweekly, they will love it! The bone will be good for their teeth as well – make sure when you feed this it is outside or on hardwood so that you can clean up easily. It is RAW meat so feeding on carpet of your couch is not a good idea.

Brands of food that we suggest are: Acana, Evengers, Taste of the Wild, Origins and Blue Buffalo. Many of these are not available at the big box stores, so check out your local dog boutique – there are many around town like Canine Cafe: http://www.caninecafe.net/ that can assist you with your dog’s nutritional needs!