— Published 08-04-2018 by: Leonard Houser (Thunder Ridge Kennels)

Beleive it or not, there are huge differences in the quality of dog foods on the market. Feeding your dog a high quality food, although more expensive per pound, is not only much healthier for your dog but can actually save you money in the long run!

The easiest way to describe the difference between a premium quality dog food and the much cheaper variety which you would normally find at a discounted price in the pet food aisle of your local store is simply ingredients. While most ‘bargain brand’ dog foods meet at least the minumum nutritional requirements for your dog, that is as far as they go. Additionally, they do it by way of fillers, additives and byproducts which do little for the health and nuitrition of your dog.

Bargain priced dog food is certainly less expensive per pound, but your dog has to eat much more of to get the nutrition he needs to thrive. Additionally, most of the fillers and other low quaity ingredients simply come out the other end resulting in more waste. Another down side to low quality dog foods is the fact that many of the filler ingredients are known to cause allergis and other health problems in dogs. You will likely spend mor on vet bills than you saved at the register.

So, what specifically, are the benefits of feeding a premium dog food?

  1. More Energy
       — Premium dog foods are formulated to be much closer to what dogs evolved to eat in the wild. They are designed to be very efficient at providing your dog with the proper energy for growth, work, and play!
  2. Easier to Digest
       — Like item 1 above, the proper formulation of ingredients makes it much easier for your dog to digest and process the food. More nuitrition. Less waste!
  3. Weight Management
       — Since your dog has to eat less and can digest more, there is a huge weight management benefit. Unlike cheap foods with lots of empty calories, your dog gets good nutrition and less chance of getting overweight!
  4. Muscle Tone
       — Have you looked at the ingredients list on your dog’s food? Quality dog foods contain more protein. They also have it in the form your dogs system needs. The first ingredient listed on higher quality foods is going to be a an appropriate protein source such as chicken, beef or other meats. If your dog foods ingredient list starts with soybeans or something similar, it is probably an indication of poor formulation. Your dog needs protein to maintain strong muscles as well as build and repair other cells in the body.
  5. Skin and Coat
       — A rich, shiny hair coat is a good indicator of your dog being in good health. Dogs eating the proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will have skin that is healthy and produces hair with a nice sheen. Dry skin, on the other hand, will lead to hair that easily splits, breaks, and falls out (more shedding). Premium dog foods contain adequate amounts omega-3 fatty acids which have an anti-inflammatory effect to reduce itching and other irritations caused by allergies or environmental conditions such as low humidity levels.

What Ingredients to Avoid

Artificial colors and flavors are a bad sign. Not only do they do noothing for your dog, but are probably there to hide something. Dog food should also never include the following: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or cane sugar or animal by-products and other artificial ingredients. Avoid ‘meat and bone meal’ or anything labeled as ‘rendered’. Rendered means an un-named source from rendered animals which could include zoo animals, road kill, euthanized pets or waste meats from supermarkets. You wouldn’t eat those would you?

Which Brand of Premium Dog Food is Best?

There is not a definitive answer to this question. There are a number of very good dog foods on the market. Some of them are even formulated to be breed or age specific. Some of the brands we recommend include: Iams, Hills Science Diet and Diamond. We personally use Tuffy’s Gold Premium. Good premium quality dog foods do not have to expensive either. Both Costco and Kirkland foods are good as well. Remember, dogs are not vegetarians! Not sure which one is best for your dog? Consult your vet for more info and recommendations.

Performance Dogs Need Performance Food

While good nutrition is important for all dogs, it is especially important for hunting and other active sporting dogs. Thunder Ridge Kennels specializes in training top performing hunting dogs. One of the things Leonard has learned in his many years of training hunting dogs is that a proper diet can make the difference between a mediocre dog and a top level performer. He always feeds only the best to his hunting dogs and carries this same principle over into his boarding kennels.