How to choose the best dog food, treats, and insurance for a happier pet household

Pet owners have a special connection to their companions, or "fur babies," and they know that caring for a beloved pet can be as meaningful or important as raising a child. The health of a pet is of the utmost priority, and getting the best care for them is a necessity.

Dogs are one of the most popular pet choices for many animal lovers, largely because they are friendly, social, intelligent, loyal, and loving. While dogs are sturdy animals and don’t require too much care, ensuring they get proper nutrition is one of their most basic needs. A good diet is critical to any pet's health, and many dog owners would be suprized to learn that the right food can make a huge difference on many health factors, including energy levels, regularity, and weight.

The choice of dog food matters.


How to choose a dog food?


All it takes is a quick trip to the pet store to remind you that there are probably thousands of options available, so it can be difficult to choose the right food for your dog. There are many things to consider about canine nutrition, and opinions vary among people experienced in care; be it veterinary doctors, dog trainers, breeders, or even fellow owners, everyone has thoughts on how and what to feed your dog.

Experts may not always agree, but the bottom line remains: there is a responsibility to do a little research before choosing what food best suits your dog’s needs.

When selecting the best dog food for your pet, you’ll need to consider the type of food (dry or wet, for example), nutritional composition, and affordability. The internet is full of information about canine nutrition, but be cautious as not everything you read online is reliable or relevant to your case. Some websites are more credible than others, so speaking to your veterinarian is a better place to start.

Generally, dog food choices are split into natural or holistic commercial diets, premium dog food, veterinary prescription diets, whole food cooked diets, economy or generic dog food, and raw food/BARF diets. Most people feed their dogs either canned wet food or dry kibble, which makes up most commercial dog food. Although there's a perception among pet owners that processed foods are harmful, they are actually good for dogs since these dog foods are carefully formulated to contain all the necessary nutrients that ensure canines stay healthy.


What goes into dog food?


There are many commercial dog foods available, but those of high quality undergo serious scrutiny from regulatory bodies and have passed through rigorous tests from qualified veterinary doctors before being certified safe and recommended for consumption. Unlike cats, dogs aren’t strictly carnivores. So, while a majority of their meals consist of meat, dogs can also get their essentiall nutrients from vegetables, fruits, and grains. These foods can be a good source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and the best dog foods already contain them.

The best food for your dog should ultimately be one that contains all the nutrients they need. For example, a dog needs about 22 amino acids to stay healthy, but its body already produces a dozen of them. Thus, for their meals to remain healthy, they need to contain the other ten amino acids that dogs can’t synthesize on their own. Always look out for dog foods that contain the minimum nutritional requirements.

Keep in mind that every dog has different nutritional needs, especially at different stages of development. An adult dog requires a different diet than a puppy, and the same applies to small and large breed dogs. So, when hunting for the right food, always consider what is best for your dog’s current development.

Knowing how to read dog food labels is important in understanding the nutritional composition of the product. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has created a clear guideline for understanding puppy and dog nutrition, which can be useful when reading dog food labels. However, just because a particular dog food meets AAFCO’s standards, that doesn’t mean it’s the best food for your dog. A better option would be to buy from food companies that exceed AAFCO’s requirements while including other high-quality ingredients. While these dog foods can sometimes be more expensive, quality really does matter to your dog's health.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all dog food manufacturers to include eight important pieces of information on their labels, though individual states could have their own additional labelling requirements. Every dog food must include the product name, manufacturer information, product net weight, intended animal species, guaranteed analysis, feeding guidelines, a statement of nutritional adequacy, and a list of ingredients. This information is designed to equip owners with critical information for choosing the right food for their dogs, particularly if they have special dietary needs.

Aside from doing your own research and deciding on which food is best for your pet, it is  important to seek opinions from others on your choice—and a veterinarian is a perfect place to start. Veterinarians are experts with more knowledge and experience with different dog foods and their suitability for different breeds, so their opinion is generally the most reliable. Since your vet is also the person with the most precise information about your dog's health, their opinion on feeding is also the most likely to take into account your dog's spciefic needs.


What about treats?


One way that dogs are just like us is that they love treats! Since treats are also a great way to reward good behaviour, care must be taken that these too are suited to a dog's general health. Many dogs love treats that are high in sugar or fat, which makes them one of the hidden causes of weight gain in many dogs. It can be very easy to lose track of how many treats you give your dog in a day.

More than half of the pets in the U.S. are overweight, and this puts them at risk for a variety of health problems. While it may be hard to resist those enchanting eyes staring back at you from under the table looking for scraps, finding and feeding primarily the best dog treats is important to ensure that your dog remains healthy.

One uncommon but useful treat you can give your dog is cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. It is a natural compound that is found in marijuana and cannabis and can be useful in treating conditions like pain and anxiety in humans and even in dogs. While there isn’t much research done into the health benefits of CBD in dogs, a few “published papers provide evidence that CBD can be effective in the management of canine epilepsy and osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian interviewed by the The Dodo.

There might not be a lot of scientific research being done yet into the benefits of CBD for dogs, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence from dog owners who have noticed a significant change in their dogs after trying it out. Some of the conditions that can be managed with CBD in dogs are inflammation, pain, nausea, and anxiety.

If you want to know the best CBD for dogs, you should start with some of the most trusted brands out there and equally rely on trusted reviews from people who have used them. Also, you can speak to your veterinarian and ask if they can recommend products that would be appropriate for your pet as treats—especially if you have an erratic dog that needs calming.


How else can you protect your dog's health?


Owning a pet, especially a dog, can be a lot of work. Moreover, while owners who care about their dog's health try not to let the costs get in the way of the best care, the reality is that unexpected medical expenses can be surprisingly high, even for pets.

Fortunately, there is such a thing as medical insurance for dogs. Some of the best pet insurance companies offer extensive coverage on most vet bills, including regular checkups. Insurers do require some information about the dog, such as breed, size, inoculations, veterinary care, and many other factors. Additionally, it’s important to know what the local regulations are for certain breeds to ensure you don’t invalidate your insurance coverage.

While most conditions and emergencies are likely to involve older dogs, consider getting pet insurance while your dog is young to lock in lower rates and avoid the shock of any unexpected bills.

Pet insurance can even cover aggressive incidents. While pets are generally friendly, they can occasionally turn violent towards those they perceive as strangers. Animals, just like humans, can be unpredictable. Sometimes, a calm dog can attack someone, whether provoked or unprovoked. In fact, there has been a reported increase in the number of dog attacks in recent times.

When a dog unfortunately attacks and bites a victim, there can be grave consequences for the owner, who may be faced with tons of hospital bills and, in most cases, a hefty lawsuit. Pet insurance doubles as protection in such unfortunate cases. Some companies offer comprehensive insurance to protect against up to a million dollars in liability.

We've all heard that a dog is man’s best friend. For many dog lovers, this statement means much more, and giving our special companions only the best care goes without saying. With such a wide variety of dog food and treats available, it's critical to find the right kind that will not only make your dog happy, but keep it healthy as well.


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