Choosing the best diet for your dog has become a process with a life of its own. For dog-devoted parents, that means research, endless questions for your vet, and pilfering stashes of free samples at pet expos. What are the most common diets for dogs? Is the kibble dog food diet really passé? Is the raw dog food diet safe? And what’s up with this whole “fresh dog food diet” thing?
There’s a lot to consider before even exploring the types of diets available for dogs in the 21st century. Breed, age, weight, health, activity level, allergies, cost, convenience, and, of course, your doggo’s palate.
Dog dining is so much more than the one-bag-feeds-all it used to be!
Let’s take a look at the most common feeding styles that are currently trending in canine nutrition:
Dog Food Types: What’s the Best Diet for Your Dog?
1 – Kibble Dog Food Diet.
“Kibble” became the feeding form of choice (thank you, advertising) in the mid-1900’s. The high cost of meat during the Depression had motivated the move away from feeding companion animals “real” food.
The production process for kibble, called extrusion, is used to produce a number of food items (for humans, as well) marketed for convenience and long shelf life.
The extremely high temperatures and lower-standard ingredients used in the processing of kibble, however, put a price on that longevity (and delectableness).
One of the pawsitives of processed food is that it is highly regulated and “complete” in terms of vitamins and nutrients.
The downside, however, is in the quality of those vitamins and nutrients – digestibility, bioavailability, even safety.
An often overlooked key to the long shelf life of dry dog food is the use of preservatives to keep fats from going rancid. The longer the shelf life, the more likely your furry friend is ingesting tongue-twister chemicals like ethoxyquin and butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA).
The kibble dog food diet remains, though, less expensive than other commercial foods, easy to use, easy to store, and potentially helpful in keeping a dog’s teeth clean.
2 – Canned Dog Food Diet.
Canned dog food was the go-to for dog diets prior to the surge of kibble. Moist, flavorful, easy to consume, but short on shelf life after opening.
Some dog owners combine kibble and canned foods in the same meal.
Compared to the kibble dog food diet, canned dog food, like frozen diets, is usually made with fresh animal products, sans the preservatives.
3 – Fresh Dog Food Diet.
Humans aren’t the only ones who get to reap the pleasures of farm-to-table dining and the privileged lifestyle of home delivery. Dog diets have come a long way, even in the past pawful of years.
Producers of fresh dog food use human-grade ingredients and work with veterinary nutritionists to ensure proper cooking methods and nutrient/vitamin/mineral standards.
Most operate on a subscription basis and offer options in the way of frequency and customization to your dog’s specific needs.
4 – Raw Dog Food Diet.
Raw is as raw sounds. It is a form of feeding that involves uncooked food.
Raw dog food diets usually include organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, dog-safe fresh fruits and vegetables, and a dairy product such as yogurt.
While some die-hard raw feeders produce all their dogs’ meals at home, many buy commercially produced raw food.
Raw patties, for example, are formulated to be complete meals. They are produced under rigorous processing and handling standards and are already sized for convenient, reliable feeding.
While raw diet proponents claim shinier coats, healthier skin and teeth, better energy, and smaller stools for their dogs, raw feeding has its share of skeptics.
Before choosing this form of feeding, consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.
Dehydration in freeze-drying is done at a very low temperature and pressure, and ice is removed through a process called sublimation.
Both shelf life and nutrient value benefit from this process.
6 – Dehydrated Dog Food Diet.
Often confused with freeze-dried, dehydrated dog food is air-dried to remove the moisture.
Temperatures are not as low as those used in freeze-drying, though the end result may seem the same to the naked eye.
Rehydrating the dried food with hot water will plump the ingredients up to a palatable consistency.
7 – Home-cooked Dog Food Diet.
It is very difficult to guarantee a complete, perfectly balanced meal for your dog via the Crock Pot. Even a raw food diet prepared at home can be tricky if you don’t know how to ensure essential nutrients and don’t have proper supplements on-hand.
At the same time, a home-cooked roast and salt-free veggies can be a welcomed addition and “night out” for a healthy, well-fed dog.
Just don’t rely on your grandma’s recipes, however legendary they may be, to be the mainstay of your pupper’s diet. Try out one of these homemade dog food diet recipes and run any new diet past your vet first.
8 – Ketogenic Dog Food Diet.
The Keto diet probably sounds familiar to you because it’s popular with a lot of humans with specialized dietary needs and weight-loss goals.
In a nutshell, Keto involves low carbs, high fat, and moderate protein levels. It is designed to drive the body into ketosis and reliance on ketone bodies from fats vs. glucose for energy.
The ketogenic diet in dogs has an interesting and promising history in dogs with cancer. You can read about it here.
9 – Vegetarian and Vegan Dog Food Diets.
Believe it or not, there is a way to stay true to your vegetarian and vegan principles when it comes to feeding your dog.
As omnivores who can eat both meat and fruits/vegetables, dogs can actually get by on a vegetarian or vegan diet. But should they?
Be forewarned that this diet plan should be considered only under the strict advice and guidance of a nutritionally well-educated veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist. Doggos do, after all, love their meat…green beans on the side!
In our experience.
As you can see, choosing the best diet for your dog involves more than dinner table scraps or a quick pick-up at the grocery.
As companion animals sneak ever deeper into our hearts and lives, their health and welfare take more of our dedication.
So many factors to consider. And science is always finding ways to improve upon the status quo. For a printable list of what dogs can and can’t eat, download our free list. And diet isn’t the only question you’ll have, check out our puppy owner FAQs for some common questions new dog parents have.
We’ve said it before: Feed the best diet you can afford. And trust your veterinarian while listening to your dog.