We all care about the health of our dogs, and we all want our dog's to be healthy and a big part of that is nutrition. The health of our dogs on average has declined drastically in the last couple decades. According to the AKC, the life expectancy of a golden retriever in the 1980's was 17 years old and now it's dropped down to 12 years of age. Providing good quality nutrition will give your dog a much better chance at longer life.
There are good quality food options available out there, it just can take some time to find the right choice for you and your pup. My personal opinion, is that a large aspect to the decline in life expectancy is more likely a result from Americans and their dog's being increasingly sedentary. We have picked three choices that we feel good about recommending, but remember diet is only one piece of the health puzzle.
When you're making a choice about which dog food to buy, you want to think about kibble size, cost, nutritional density and taste. Which ever kibble you do choose, just make sure that you're not over feeding your dog. Kibble size may seem like an unimportant consideration, but it's not. Dogs seem to prefer a particular size kibble which is not too big, nor too small. Obviously, you also need to make sure that the food is in your budget, but most importantly you need to look what the ingredients are. Are there things that are a artificial? Are there grains or fruit? Is there filler? Is it clear that your dogs health was taken into consideration from the ingredient list? Don't settle!
Keeping Your Dog at a Healthy Weight
I see lots and lots of dogs that are overweight which can have serious adverse health effects. Dogs run a lot and the extra weight on their body can lead to joints and hips joint problems. Many breeds such as German Shepherds, Poodles, and French Bulldogs are prone to hip dysplasia which is just one way a dog being overweight can have negative health consequences.
I, personally will make adjustments based on our activity level that day. If we were lazy (everybody needs a lazy day here and there) I'll often give a bit less, or if we hiked a long while I'll give a bit more. Anecdotally, it seems that dogs just feel better when they're leaner. They seem to have more energy, and they seem to enjoy their life more. I've seen dogs who are old and lethargic and then when they lose weight, they start acting like a puppy again. At the end of the day you want to be an active participant in your dogs nutrition plan, not a passive one.
A Note on Package Guidelines
Just remember also that the guidelines on the back of the package are, guidelines, you need to adjust for your dogs activity level and their age. The guidelines on the back assume that your dog is getting the correct amount of exercise it needs for it's breed, age, and size. There are a lot of dogs who are not getting the correct amount of exercise for their needs, which can lead to obesity. If your dog is getting overweight consult your veterinarian or a dog nutritionist to create a plan.
My dogs, Hugo and Bebe we use Origin dog food. It is not cheap, but if I can help my dog, feel healthy better and live a longer life then I think I can cut back out of my expenses in other areas to fulfill that need. The nutrient profile is quality. There are multiple types of meat such as Turkey, Cod, and Whole Herring. Plenty of vegetables too such as Pumpkins, and Lentils. Pumpkin can help digestion. There are many ingredients aimed at promoting healthy coats such as Pollack Oil and Dehydrated Sardine.
On top of being nutritionally dense dogs, in my experience dogs love the taste. I will take a couple cups with me to dog training sessions. I find dogs work for Origen kibble just like any treat. Origin also makes treats that are pretty high quality and you can feel good about those too.
Lastly, a little bit goes a long way with Origen. For a 50 lb. dog you only need 1.5-2 cups per day. I feed my 55 lb. Australian Shepherd 1 3/4 cups per day.
$100/23 lb. bag.
40-60lb dog - 1.5- 2 cups/day.
Different dogs have different nutritional and dietary needs. Hill's science has those needs covered. If your dog is prone stomach or skin issues, you should give it a try. Dogs who often have skin allergies are Pitbull's, French Bulldogs , and even Huskies commonly have skin issues. German Shepherd's on the other hand, tend to have nervous stomachs. So if you have one of these breeds consider giving it a try.
In my work, I notice dog's seem to like the taste of Hill Science. Additionally, the kibble is a good size, it's not too big, which makes for comfortable munching.
You get over 10 lbs. more kibble for $15 less than Origen, but if you're looking at the nutrition level you see why the difference is there. A lot of the things that make Origen, Origen, are missing such as no fish in Hill Science Diet, fewer vegetables, and more ingredients that are part of a meal like corn meal
You'll need 3 3/4 cups for a 50 LB Dog/day.
50 lb. dog - 3 3/4 cups a day.
A lot of people swear by freeing up love pro plan from professionals to every day pet parents. Many show dog competitors love it for how good it works on a dog's coat. It's consistent well studied product. I find the dogs don't love the taste of Purina as much as the other two. Also the chunks of kibble can be a little bit larger, and sometimes a dog doesn't always like large chunks in their food.
As far as ingredients go, Purina wins out over Hill Science, but not over Origen. While there are a fair amount of ingredients that are part of a processed meal, Pro Plan does have a fish meal, where Hill Science doesn't have any fish what so ever. Seafood and fish as amazing health benefits for pups. While, I'd rather my pup get their vitamins and minerals from natural sources like meats and vegetables, I do appreciate how many vitamins and minerals Pro Plan adds in which is probably why people owe their dogs great coat to it.
For a young active 50 LB dog, they would need about 3 cups of Purina Pro Plan per day. Something I really do like this that the Pro Plan website has calculator that can help you get more precise feeding guidelines than the generic bag ones.
50 LB Dog - 3 cups/day.
I chose Origin for my dogs because many other trainers and pet professional recommended it, and I had a client to fed her dog origin and I saw how healthy they were. I looked at the ingredient list of course before committing to getting Origen the fist time, but I hadn't looked at other brands such as Hill Science and Purina's ingredient list before today. I've had clients who use both Hill Science and Purina. Clients have seen skin conditions get better with Hill Science, and my clients who use Purina Pro who have healthy dogs with great coats. However, after looking at the ingredient list, the prices, and the amount necessary per day, I personally think the clear winner is Origen.
Making Your Own Dog Food
The first commercial kibble was invented in 1956. So it hasn't been around that long. Dogs before kibble still eat and were happy and healthy. Making your own dog good is something that you should consult with your vet before pursing, however, with a little research and effort you can often save money or at least make better quality for the same expense. People often go to a bulk supplier like Costco or BJ's in order to meal prep for their dog often times 6 weeks out.
Dog Nutritionists exist, so if you are interested in making your own dog food, they are certainly one of the resources you should seek out. A wonderful company, called Real Dog Box, who makes the best quality treats and chews your dog can get also offer consultations with dog nutritionists.
Remember to have fresh water on hand at all times for your pup. If you do decide to switch remember to do it slowly, your kibble should have instructions on how to properly switch.