How to choose the absolute best food for your dog
May 20, 2021
What’s so great about premium lines of dog food, and what value do they offer to your dog’s lifeCynics might say premium foods are all about impressing the humans. If you’re looking for the best food for your dog, read on to learn how to tell when a high-quality premium brands enhances the life of your best friend, and which fall short of expectations.
Premium pet foods have wholesome ingredients
When it comes to food ingredients, premium dog food is a nutritious mix of meat and high-quality grains, while some lines also include fruits and veggies. Let’s break down what to look for and how they help your dog build a healthy body.
Dogs crave meat as their source of protein, and protein is vital to their health and well-being. For that reason alone, meat should be the first ingredient listed on the bag. More importantly, animal protein sources provide your dog with the essential amino acids that build his body and make it functional.
What are amino acids? They are the components of protein that do everything from creating hair follicles (so your dog can grow his nice, soft coat that you love to pet), muscle and tissue to helping him function at the cellular level. Your dog’s body has the ability to make some amino acids, but there are 10 essential amino acids your dog needs to survive that come solely from food sources — especially meat.
[For more about meat and your dog, read Protein for canines: It’s what your dog needs and craves]
Whole, unprocessed grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet and oats provide a host of good nutrients to your pet’s diet, including proteins, B vitamins and antioxidants that fight free radicals (cell damage).
Also, whole grains are high in fiber. Though dogs require less fiber than humans do to be healthy, it still benefits dogs. Fiber brings bulk to your dog’s meal, helping him feel fuller longer. In the gut, fiber is fermented into fatty acids by the “good” bacteria in your dog’s intestine, which helps keep their microbiome in balance. (More about the microbiome later.)
If you have any hesitation around whether grains have a place in a canine diet, rest assured that science has the answer. Research suggests that compared to wolves, dogs have more of the genes in their DNA that help their bodies digest grains. This indicates that dogs have evolved to be more in alignment with human diets.
When it comes to allergies, allergic reactions to grains are rare in dogs. Protein-specific allergies, particularly to beef and other meats, are far more common in canines than grain allergies.
When shopping for the best food for your dog, steer clear of brands that use corn as filler.
Carefully selected ingredients — an emphasis on high-quality animal protein and wholesome grains — are how premium brands bring a nutrient-dense meal to your dog’s bowl. But as the following will show, your furry friend’s dinner needs more than good ingredients to bring your dog complete nose-to-tail health.
Look for a pet food company that keeps it close to home, by making their own food in their own facilities. This keeps them in control of everything, from sourcing the high-quality ingredients your pet deserves to filling the bag with fresh, nutrient-dense meals.
Is your dog’s food bioavailable?
Another consideration when choosing a premium dog food is its bioavailability.
What is bioavailability and why does it matter in your pet’s food? Bioavailability is the proportion of food that’s digested and absorbed by the body.
When the body absorbs protein, for example, that allows your dog to grow new hair follicles, repair muscles, maintain joints and keep his cells fully functional. Bioavailable carbohydrates provide your dog with energy and help with brain function. Finally, bioavailable vitamins and minerals get absorbed in the bloodstream to nourish cells, tissues and organs.
If your dog’s body can’t access all the good stuff in the food, you’ll be picking it up in the backyard. In other words, some of it will be going to waste.
More waste is a common side effect of lesser quality diets that aren’t designed to maximize bioavailability. What happens is the undigested food ferments in the gut and the result is a messy, foul-smelling mess to pick up in the backyard.
For a premium pet food to be worth the spend, it should be created with bioavailability in mind. Not only are high quality meats and grains essential, look for highly digestible 100% organic trace minerals to ensure the bioavailability your pet needs from his food.
Because dog food that is bioavailable to his body will provide his body with more of the good stuff to keep him healthy for a long happy life. Not only that, but you’ll also see a difference right in your backyard, with fewer and firmer stools to pick up. (Less time picking up messes is always a good thing!)
Good gut health
Now that you know the importance of bioavailability, the next area of focus is gut health. As we like to say, a healthy gut is a healthy mutt! When these signs and symptoms are a way of life for your dog, the underlying issue could start from the gut. A high-quality diet that heals the gut can be the fix you’re looking for:
- Frequent allergies
- Frequent and/or messier stools
- Dank breath
- Tummy troubles
- Itchy skin
- Ear infections
- Paw licking
To show how a premium brand would be designed to optimize gut health, we’ll break down the two key components in NutriSource’s Element series.
NGVEN is an advanced nutrition system that’s designed to optimize the microbiome in the gut, so your dog can fully utilize this high-animal-protein diet.
- Mannan rich fractions are extracted from yeast. These work in the gut to decrease the inflammatory response in intestinal cells to reduce gastrointestinal infection.
- Yucca schidigera is an herbaceous plant that reduces the odor of your dog’s stool.
Good 4 Life Plus provides your dog’s gut with the probiotics and prebiotics that work together to build a healthy microbiome in the gut. Here’s a quick overview of what a microbiome is and what it does for your pet:
A microbiome is the colony of beneficial microbes that line the gut — trillions of microorganisms. The microbiome has three functions in the body:
- Break down food to release nutrients — amino acids, energy, vitamins and minerals — into the body.
- Promotes the body’s immune response.
- Breaks down ingested toxins and pathogens. (When you’re a pet parent, this can bring a certain amount of peace of mind!)
Clearly, maintaining a healthy microbiome is a critical part of your dog’s overall health. That’s where Good 4 Life comes in.
- The probiotics in Good 4 Life feature five different strains of bacteria plus nutritional yeasts to cultivate a healthy microbiome for optimal gut health. (Look for food that has at least 100 million colony-forming units per pound.)
- The prebiotics are resistant starches that provide the necessary food these live bacteria and yeasts need to thrive and flourish. Good 4 Life features BOS MOS, which is different from the chicory root and other components used as prebiotics in some other pet foods. BOS MOS not only feeds the gut, but it also cleans it of harmful pathogens.
There you have it. That is how the supplements and ingredients work together in NutriSource Element Series to bring advanced nutrition to your dog.
Evolved canine diet
NutriSource’s new Element series joins evolutionary concepts with cutting-edge nutritional knowledge to help your dog live a long, healthy life.
- Element’s recipes contain at least 83% animal protein, sourced from our carefully vetted suppliers to ensure the quality of the ingredients.
- You’ll find animal proteins in the first five ingredients of each formula.
- Our proprietary new Good 4 Life Plus system has added digestive benefits to support the proper digestion of high meat diets and gut health.