Dogs aren’t just household pets. If you happen to live with one, then you would know how it good it feels to have their company. These little balls of fur are loyal and caring, and they know how to make your bad day feel a little more bearable.

It may seem just like another basic observation on how your emotions are affected by the mere presence of another living being. However, it is more than that. In fact, science has found out that dogs can give you a wide array of benefits you may not even know you are getting.

Having a dog can make you feel much more lax and happy. Playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for the feeling of being more tranquil and more blissful. Similarly, by being relaxed, you are less likely to have heart diseases. On top of that, pets are very good boosters of your immunity system, make you more capable of fighting against diseases since these animals introduce a variety of bacteria that is normalized by your body.

Also, owning a pet allows you to get a different perspective in life. They are seen by many, if not all, as valuable beings that create a more socially comfortable environment in practically any situation. Considered as social magnets, your pets can greatly help you, especially when you are going through a stressful period in your life. According to research, if you have a pet, you are generally happier, more trusting and less lonely than those who don’t.

There are many ways how dogs can improve your health. This is why you should also make every effort to give them better health in return. You can start off with giving them the best and healthiest food that they deserve. Go out of your way in finding the best of the best for your pets. Know how to choose the best treats for your dog to keep them healthy and playful, and to help them have a longer life.

Doggy Preference

Just like any other person who has preference over which food they want to eat more often, dogs feel the same way. Some dogs prefer dry food, some canned. Some dogs prefer chicken, some prefer fish. You could feed a brand of well-formulated food to a group of dogs and find that most of them greatly benefit from it, some do marginally well and a few would even get sick. Luckily, today’s market offers a wide range of formulated foods for dogs of all life stages, and it is fine to try several to determine which one could actually work best for your dog.

As veterinary health progresses, so does the market that follows it. Dog food now has its own industry, and the market is flourishing, providing the best for “man’s best friend.” Dog food can be classified into three major categories: grocery store food, premium food and healthy food.

Grocery store dog foods are those found, as the name implies, in grocery stores and mass-market retailers. Typically, they are made with relatively lower-quality, less-digestible, inexpensive ingredients. Thus, it serves as a cheaper alternative for the other, much healthier options. Considering its price, this type of dog food does not normally provide your dog the healthiest and most nutrient-dense ingredients that it needs.

Similarly, premium dog foods are often found in grocery stores. In addition, they can also be found in pet stores and veterinarian clinics. They contain higher-grade ingredients, however, they may still include ingredients that are commonly found in grocery store foods, such as artificial colors, artificial flavors, chemical preservatives and “filler” ingredients. Premium foods are usually more expensive than grocery store foods because their ingredients are still of a higher quality, are more digestiblenand are more beneficial to your dog’s health.

While all these foods can be easily purchased in the market, your pets can also be fed with homemade dog treats. Not only are homemade treats categorized as healthy foods, they are also relatively cheaper and more flexible. DIY gourmet dog biscuits and gourmet dog bone recipes are examples of food that you can give your pet made from ingredients found at home. They are natural and inexpensive. Introduce these treats to your pets and see how they like it!

Assess your Doggy Health

Generally when you’re shopping for healthy foods for your dog, the ingredient list on the back of the bag is a good place to start. By law, pet food labels must list their ingredients in order based on how much of that ingredient is in the treat. Look for dog foods with meat, fish or eggs listed as the first ingredient. These foods are highly digestible. If they are listed as the first ingredient, you can assume the food offers a good-quality protein source, thus, it includes several valuable, usable amino acids. Also, if you are switching to a new food, be sure to allow ample time for your dog to adjust to it.

Take note that dog food can be as diverse as the food that you eat. From basic health knowledge, you know that there are foods that are beneficial at a certain point in your life, while they may no longer provide as much benefit to your body as you grow up. This same is true with your pets.

This is why you should address various factors specific to your dog before giving them their treats. The first thing to take note of is your dog’s age. Make sure you choose a food that’s nutritionally geared in relation to your dog’s age. Bones aren’t meant for puppies, and milk isn’t optimum for adult dogs.

On another note, you should assess your dog’s body condition. Dogs that are overweight or underweight need different nutrition than those who are not. Dogs that get lots of exercise also have different nutritional requirements. Choose a food that fits your dog’s needs, whether it’s weight control, physical performance improvement or health maintenance. If your dog has medical conditions such as diabetes, allergies, cancer or digestive difficulties, you would need to choose a food that is appropriate for their specific condition.

Take Note of the Nutrition Chart

Pet foods should be purchased with much thought because it could lead to how your dog’s health will be. This is why you need to learn to read the labels. There are numerous elements of pet food in the market to take note of, such as preservatives and other flavor enhancers that are known to produce problems in animals like tumors, skin problems, allergies and more.

When reading the labels, ingredients are listed in order of the volume of percentages in the food. Depending on what type of pet food you would buy, it would include highly nutritious ingredients, or food extenders and by-products. By-products include processed animal parts such as chicken heads, duck bills, chicken and turkey feet, feathers and bones and plant-based products such as soy, cottonseed hulls, corn cobs, peanut hulls, citrus pulp, weeds, straw and discarded cereals.

The problem in the market today is that when you see beef, chicken and poultry by-products, it may not include real meat. Avoid any foods listing meat meal, meat by-products, poultry meal, poultry by-products, fish meal, fish oil, tallow, beef fat, chicken fat, yellow grease and fatty acids.

The basic rule is to look for human-grade ingredients in the foods. When it’s good for you, then it is good for your dog. The first ingredient should be a protein of some type of meat: chicken or beef, for example. After that first item, you should see a list of other healthy ingredients such as various vegetables, fruits, vitamins and supplements that you might recognize.