You may be wondering why dog foods aren’t created equal? Dog keepers are given a variety of dog choices in the market, all claiming to be the best. However, to look for the right dog food product that is less expensive, healthy, and something your dog needs can be difficult.
Unlike cats, dogs don’t only eat meat, but their diet also consists of fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, these are only supplements that can add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your dog’s diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the essentials nutrients for canine nutrition?
A: In order to maintain your dog’s health, you will have to give him the following:
- Proteins – Protein helps in maintaining your dog’s coat which utilizes about 30 % of your pet’s protein intake.
- Fats – Fats are the primary source of energy your dogs can benefit from. They produce fatty acids that are essential building blocks in keeping your dog’s cells healthy.
- Carbohydrates – A dog’s digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose which is also a good source of energy.
- Vitamins – Vitamins are important for boosting your pet’s immune system.
- Minerals – Minerals are important in promoting growth and keeping your dog’s bones and teeth strong.
Q: What should I feed my puppy with?
A: Formulated dog food specifically made for puppies is the best for your puppy to meet the nutritional requirement his body needs.
Puppies will need to eat twice as much as adult dogs of the same breed. As such, you should start feeding your puppy with healthy and nutritious formulated dog food after he’s done with his breastfeeding period which is about 4 weeks of age.
It is advised to give your puppy food evenly at least 2-3 times a day. Generally speaking, puppies who weigh less than 10 pounds should be fed 3 times a day and those above can be trained to eat at least twice a day.
Moreover, it is important to feed your puppies with food that is 25%-30% protein. However, always remember to ask your veterinarians for details first.
Q: How should I feed my adult dog?
A: Feeding your adult dog is slightly different than feeding your puppy. Here’s how you can do it:
- Strict timed feeding – Make your dog’s food available for some period of time. For example, you can place your dog’s food in his container for 20 minutes then remove it after. This way, your dog will be trained not to eat greedily.
- Meal feeding – This is the most recommended way of feeding an adult dog as it involves feeding your dog twice a day with specific dog food amounts.
- Free-choice feeding – This kind of feeding is unfortunately bad training for your dog as it allows food to be available the whole time. This type of feeding can most likely cause your dog to become overweight.
Q: What should I feed my Senior Dog?
A: A dog is considered a senior once he reaches 8 years old. Some senior dogs may have developed health problems over the years, thus requiring them to have a special diet.
Most of them will need to eat lesser calories, but their food should still be highly nutritious. Also, they need to have higher protein content in their diets as they have a lesser ability to absorb protein in their bodies.
Always remember that starting your dog’s senior diet depends on his breed and size. Small breeds like Shih Tzus weighing less than 20 pounds can start their senior diet at 8 years of age. Moreover, supplements can be a lot of help for your senior dog depending on what his body needs.
Tips to Help You Pick the Right Dog Food
Choosing the right dog food can be easy as long as you know what to look for. Here are some tips that will help you:
1. Know if it meets your dog’s nutritional needs
Most dog food brands in the market are created with only minimum nutrition for your dogs. Dogs need a wide scale of nutrients that vary in quantity as they grow. Nutritional needs can be different between that of a puppy and an adult dog.
It’s advised to feed your puppy a formulated dog food as he’s still developing. It’s also important to know that large breed dogs have different nutritional needs than small breed dogs.
2. Read the label
The following should be part of your dog food’s label as required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- Name of the product
- Net weight
- Manufacturer’s name and address
- Analysis that is guaranteed
- List of Ingredients
- Animal specification
- Nutritional adequacy statement
- Directions on feeding
3. Know what’s on the food packaging
The fact is, names like “beef for dogs”, or “chicken dog food” means that 95% of the product contains protein according to the FDA. Words with “dinner” such as “salmon dinner for dogs” or “chicken stew dinner” may indicate that the product only contains 25% protein.
If you see a wording that says “with”, for example “with salmon”, the food has only 3% of the said ingredient. And if the food says “chicken flavor” or “beef flavor”, there are only small amounts of these ingredients that’s enough for your dog to taste it.
4. Read the ingredients
The dog food you should choose should have meat as its first ingredient. Dogs can eat on both animal and plant matter, but they shouldn’t be fed purely with only plant matters.
“Meat” includes the muscles of animals including some other parts such as the esophagus, heart, and diaphragm while “meat by-products” include the blood, brain, bone, lungs, kidneys, etc. Dog food products should not include hooves, teeth, horns, and hair as tested by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
5. Take a look at the nutritional adequacy statement
Always search for the AAFCO statement at the back of the product. AAFCO requires high standards to ensure a product’s nutritional value.
The 5 Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus and Other Small Breed Dogs
Now that we’ve covered a few basics regarding feeding your dogs, let’s get to our list of product recommendations which we believe are best for Shih Tzus and similar small dog breeds. They’re as follows:
1. WholeHearted Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food
WholeHearted is a brand you can count on to provide your dog with the balanced meal he needs.
This particular product has protein as its first ingredient and doesn’t come with any added artificial ingredients. Moreover, it has a detailed analysis of its nutritional value in each pack.
As the name suggests, this adult dry dog food features chicken as its first ingredient. The kibbles are specially sized for little jaws to lessen tartar formation when chewing.
It also has the right amount of calcium and phosphorus to help strengthen your dog’s bones and teeth. Lastly, it comes with probiotics that promote a healthy digestive system.
- Tiny kibble sizes
- Tasty for your dog
- Good for your dog’s coat
- Hard to find in some shops
- Often out of stock
2. Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Dog Food
The Nature’s Domain dog food from Kirkland Signature has probiotics and prebiotics that promote healthy immune and digestive systems.
It consists of dried chicory root and psyllium seed husk which help in maintaining the right balance of essential bacteria in your dog’s intestines.
Also, the Active9 Probiotics are made under very strict safety and quality standards to secure its purity. Each serving of food has a required level of active bacteria that promote healthy digestion.
Plus, its Sensitive Stomach Formula is made of friendly ingredients that are not hard on your pet’s stomach and are easy to digest.
Moreover, the food’s small kibbles are easy for your small dog’s mouth to feed on and chew upon with a hard crunchy texture that helps in cleaning the teeth. This grain-free product is not hard on sensitive stomachs to take in and is most beneficial for dogs who have grain allergies.
- Composed of healthy and organic ingredients
- Good smell and flavor
- Promotes a healthy digestive system
- Might cause your dog to poop frequently
3. Natural Balance L.I.D. Dry Dog Food
The Limited Ingredients Diets from Natural Balance limits its ingredients and formula to deal with your dog’s sensitivity to food.
It offers you unique selections for dogs such as single-sources of protein and lesser carbohydrate sources plus other selections of unusually taken proteins.
Created with limited sources of protein and carbohydrates, this grain-free product helps in promoting a healthy digestive system while keeping a shiny and healthy coat.
It has also undergone 9 safety tests to ensure the quality of the ingredients. Every test is processed by expert microbiologists and chemists so that you can be assured of your pet’s safety.
The kibble size is created for small breed dogs that have smaller jaws and are formulated to reach their nutritional needs. Each bite is full of flavor and full of nutrients, plus its texture is crunchy to keep a clean set of teeth and healthy gums.
- Promotes a healthy digestive system
- Promotes a healthy skin
- Good for sensitive dogs who are prone to allergies
- Smaller kibble
- Problems in stocking
- Issues in quality control
- Can have an unpleasant smell at times
4. Forza 10 Intestinal Active Dry Dog Food
The Forza 10 intestinal active dry dog food is free from unnecessary ingredients your dog doesn’t need. This product is made for dogs with digestive problems.
With its limited ingredients, it lessens the risk of having sensitivities and allergic reactions for your dog. Plus, this product has passed the standard of nutrition by AAFCO.
The product aims to solve common intestinal inflammations caused by sensitivities to food. It comes with anchovy or herring to lessen the possibility of contamination from hazardous metals. Moreover, this particular source of protein is not hard on your pet’s digestive system.
The kibbles are composed of medicinal plants that reduce toxicity and are immune-regulating for the health of your beloved pet. It is just the right product for your sensitive pet when it comes to his/her gastrointestinal health.
- Good for dogs with IBD (inflammatory bowel diseases)
- AAFCO certified
- Hard to find in some shops
5. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
This product is regarded as the No. 1 veterinarian-recommended product that is clinically proven for weight management.
About 70% of dogs who used this product have managed to lose weight safely and effectively. Moreover, this dog food maintains muscle integrity. Since it’s made in the USA with worldwide ingredients, you can trust it for your dog’s safety.
Since Hill’s Science Diet have more than 220 Veterinarians, food experts, and Ph.D. nutritionist that create their dog food products, you can be assured that this product, as well as others, are of the highest quality possible.
This dog food only uses ingredients that are of high quality such as lamb, chicken, and salmon. Also, it comes with protein as its first ingredient that also offers antioxidant properties.
Every ingredient that this comes with is natural, and there were no artificial ingredients added such as colorings, flavorings, preservative, or even by-product meals.
- Good for weight management
- Available at a very affordable price
- Can help your dog produce a healthy stool
- May cause liver problems if not used according to directions
- May cause vomiting
Choosing the best dog food for your beloved pet is wholly your decision as his owner because you are the one who knows your dog best. If you see your dog active, having a good appetite, and producing a healthy stool, then that’s an indication that the dog food you chose is working for your dog.
Your veterinarian can be an important source of information in this process. Using his years of study, he will help you recommend what’s best for your dog’s nutrition. Also, it will be a lot easier to choose your options as your vet will help you narrow them down.