It is important to stress that there is no best food for Doodles or any dog, as each dog is an individual, and what works well for one may not work at all for another. However, the one thing to bear in mind is that dogs are carnivores and hence they do have a requirement for meat. So whatever diet you choose for your dog, quality meat should be top of the ingredients list.
It is also important for a dog to get a variety of foods, rather than just one type of food for its whole life. With commercial diets, feeding different foods can help fill nutritional gaps that a particular food or brand might be deficient in, as well as making it less likely that your dog will develop food allergies. A dog can’t get the optimal nutrients it needs out of one bag and type of food if it’s fed that all the time. It’s better to choose at least two or three different brands using different protein sources and grain fillers, and rotate between them, anywhere from a daily basis to every few months. The only caution about feeding a lot of variety is not to feed every exotic protein available (eg duck, rabbit, venison ), as you may need to do an elimination diet using a food your dog has never had before to test for food allergies.
In addition to kibble, I suggest adding some fresh foods to the diet, including eggs, meat (raw or cooked), tinned fish (sardines, mackerel, in oil, never in brine), dairy (bio yogurt, cottage cheese) and healthy leftovers (steamed vegetables, meat and fish scraps). This will dramatically improve the quality of whatever diet you feed.
If you tend to feed the same food continuously for a month or more, be sure to make the switch gradually to avoid digestive upset, i.e, add some of the new kibble to the old before switchover, but dogs that are used to getting different foods all the time rarely have any problems with it.
There are many problems with some commercial pet foods as a high proportion of their ingredients are not meat based and use grains and waste from the human food chain to bulk out their food. Health issues such as allergies, obesity, food intolerance, arthritis, chronic ear infections, cystitis, kidney stones, certain heart diseases, pancreatitis, hip dysplasia, canine mammary cancer, bloat, and diabetes all have nutritional components — that is, nutritional factors are suspected or known to play a role in inducing or perpetuating these diseases. Therefore it is very important that when selecting a commercial food that we feed one that is of high quality and suits our dogs.
Every commercial food on the market contains different ingredients, and each one has the potential to cause symptoms of allergy or intolerance in some dogs. Every food contains a different ratio of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and you have to learn by trial and error which ratio works best for your dog. So it’s not surprising that people feel confused or are persuaded by clever marketing that they are feeding their pet good quality food when the truth is they are not.
What to Look for When Choosing a Commercial Brand of Food
Meat/ Fish etc should be listed as the first ingredient. Meat is easily digestible and should be the main protein source. Also, look for a named meat, i.e. chicken meal, as opposed to “meat meal” as it could contain absolutely anything. The meat content should always be high.
Purchase dried foods in smaller bags and vary the protein sources regularly. I.e. Chicken one month, Lamb another. Buying a huge 20kg bag which is open for a few months before it’s used up will “go off” and not be as nutritionally viable. Keeping food in tight storage containers improves longevity too. Food allergies are also more likely to develop if the dog is fed the same food all the time.
Naturally preserved food. I.e. Preserved with Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols), Vit C (Ascorbic Acid) instead of chemicals.
Low Grains- Be careful to read the label and check ALL grain sources. Food labelling can be deceiving and just because they label meat first doesn’t mean it’s the main ingredient. Grains tend to be split to hide the overall content so for e.g. wheat, Maize, prairie meal etc when all added together means that grains are the main ingredient.
What to Avoid
- Artificial preservatives – (BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin)
- Meat by-products, derivatives or digest
- Grains – Avoid food that has grains as the main ingredient
- Salt and sugar
- High in carbohydrates (tends to be from grains)
- Just be careful not to choose a high protein + high carbohydrate based on grains as these are the ones that can act like rocket fuel.
Foods to Avoid or Restrict
- Onions – can cause a form of anaemia. The reaction is dose-dependent and will build up over time.
- Grapes and raisins – cause kidney failure in a few dogs for unknown reasons.
- Macadamia nuts – toxic to dogs, even in very small amounts.
- Raw salmon, trout and related anadromous fish from the Pacific Northwest (California to Alaska) – can carry a parasite that causes Salmon Poisoning in dogs. Cooking will destroy the parasite. Note that tinned salmon is cooked and therefore safe.
- Chocolate and caffeine – contains Theobromine which is toxic to dogs.
- Xylitol – a natural sweetener, is toxic to dogs. It is found in some water additives, such as C.E.T. AquaDent and Petrodex Breath Spray for Pets. It is also found in many human products, including sugar-free gum, mints and children’s vitamins.
Never give supplemental calcium of any kind when feeding a commercial diet. Feeding an adult food to a puppy may cause excessive calcium intake, as the adult food might have more calcium for the same amount of calories than a puppy food would, while not providing the other nutrients required by puppies. Puppies need more vitamins to ensure optimum health and that’s why puppy foods have higher vitamin content than adult food.
You should always feed puppies foods that are approved either for puppies or for all life stages. If you feed a food that is approved for adult dogs only, there will be inadequate amounts of protein, and improper levels of calcium and other nutrients. Large Breed Puppy Formulas may not be the answer, as they often replace protein with carbohydrates. High protein diets are preferred, as puppies need protein to thrive and studies have shown that high protein does not lead to developmental problems, but high-fat diets, carbohydrates and overfeeding may contribute to too many calories, leading to rapid growth.
“Convenient Complete” dog foods are not the only way to feed your beloved Doodle, more and more people are now taking control of what they are feeding and are doing it themselves.
Many Doodle Owners have changed stance and started to feed their dogs more “naturally”. By feeding a more natural diet, you are in charge of everything that your dog is eating and therefore know exactly what you are providing nutritionally wise for your dog. Owners have witnessed great benefits by feeding this way to include cleaner teeth, brighter eyes, thicker and glossier coats, more lean muscle and less body fat, and better energy levels — hyper dogs often become calmer, while lazy lethargic dogs may become more energetic. They have also more importantly found that Doodles on this diet now love their food. Dogs and cats have been eating a fresh raw diet for thousands of years until recently, so why do we think that commercially processed foods are better? The truth is they are not, and I certainly wouldn’t want to bring my child up solely on “convenience foods” and expect them to be healthy! it’s the same for our dogs.
In conclusion, diet is essential to your Doodles’ health and taking the time to find the most suitable food will save you money and heartache in the long run.
Cost, time and convenience are important factors to consider, but let’s make sure as we feed our Doodles, that we truly provide them with the quality of nourishment that will help each one reach its own healthy, individual potential. Remember ‘you are what you eat’ and it’s the same for our beloved Doodles.