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Choosing the right food for your canine companion can be quite overwhelming. Almost every pet store is stocked to its brim with a wide selection of food brands, and each one of them claims to be the best. A lot of dog food manufacturers have formulated breed-specific foods that are meant to address health needs of a specific breed of cat or dog. It is easy to understand why dog owners tend to gravitate towards foods that claim to be tailor-made to the genetic makeup of their dog. But the important question you need to ask is, “Are you making the right choice?”
The problem with breed-specific foods is that they are usually just a marketing gimmick and don’t have the backing of solid nutritional science. We still lack thorough research on the differing nutritional requirements of different breeds. The metabolism of a small breed, for instance, is different from that of a large breed. However, it is highly unlikely that the dietary needs of a Great Dane vary from that of a Chihuahua’s.
Do breed-specific foods help your pup?
In general, breed-specific foods are not harmful. But, they are redundant if your assessment of your dog’s nutritional requirements (based on size, life stage, and specific needs) is already correct. Take, for instance, a large breed like a Labrador Retriever. He can end up developing serious joint problems if he is given a diet rich in calcium or calories. It is essential that you give him the appropriate diet so that his bones grow properly. That being said, there is no benefit to giving him specially formulated foods compared to regular high quality foods. After all, there are no critical differences in the dietary requirements between a Labrador Retriever and a Golden Retriever.
Daschund-specific diets are another great example. Those diets claim to contain ingredients that promote a lean body mass and prevent instances of back disease. Although this sounds like a good idea in theory, since their elongated structure predisposes them to back injuries which cause paralysis, there is nothing in the diets themselves that accomplish this particular goal. As long as the pet owners choose a good quality diet for small breeds and do not let their dogs get obese, they have nothing to worry about.
They also pose a problem for veterinarians. Let us say you have a Shih Tzu which develops G.I issues on a special Shih Tzu diet, necessitating the requirement for a new therapeutic diet meant to address the gastric trouble. As an owner, you might be reluctant to change the diet if you mistakenly believe that the Shih Tzu-specific food has special ingredients which will keep your dog healthy. You need to discuss your concerns with the vet so that you can work together to make sure that you address all the nutritional needs of your dog.
What criteria should you go by?
When selecting pet foods, make sure you choose a high quality diet made by a trusted brand. It should suit the size, life stage and the lifestyle needs of your dog. These are the three most important factors in determining the nutritional needs of your dog. If you are unsure about where to begin, ask your vet. He or she will suggest a diet plan suited to the specific health needs and genetic concerns of your dog. That is the only way to ensure that your dog lives a long, healthy and happy life.