Alternative foods growing in popularity include paleo dog food, vegan diets and dehydrated or raw food diets.
And while veterinarian Dr Cherlene Lee said at times those diets may be suitable for a dog’s needs, buyers should be wary of incorrectly marketed products.
“Owners should be aware that a lot of these words can be misleading and usually a lot of them are used for marketing purposes,” she told Yahoo7.
“I think a lot of people tend to forget that there’s nothing to regulate the wording on the packets in Australia.”
Dr Lee said there could also be issues with buying cheap canned food from supermarkets, as they won’t always be appropriate for dogs with illnesses and allergies.
“Owners should learn to look at ingredients and make sure it doesn’t contain anything toxic,” she said, adding that a dog’s diet should be individualised.
Dr Lee, who owns My Vet Animal Hospital in Waterloo, Sydney, works with nutritionists to develop diets for her patients.
This way, the pet’s health, allergies, weight, likes and dislikes are considered. And it’s not always an expensive option.
“A lot of people tend to forget that vets are more than willing to work with your budget, and work with your lifestyle,” Dr Lee said.
The veterinarian said people often give their pets human foods that are, in fact, toxic to dogs.
The biggest offenders to steer clear of are garlic, onion, chocolate and grapes.
“A lot of people think, ‘grapes are fruit so they’re healthy’. But grapes can cause kidney failure,” she said.
Another big no-no is fatty foods, like sausages and bacon.
“These can cause pancreatitis,” Dr Lee said. “It can even be lethal.”
Dr Lee’s five tips for choosing dog food:
- Always choose a dog food that meets the AAFCO standards and passes the AAFCO feeding trials – a dog food that complies with the standards and feeding trials will have this printed on its packaging.
- Learn to read and understand the labels – Garlic and onions may make the dog food smell good to you but they are toxic to your dogs, even in trace amounts.
- Consider the age, size and breed of your dogs as they need different nutrients in different stages of life. The packaging of dog food should give you some basic ideas.
- If your dog has underlying issues, always consult your vet before switching its diet.
- If you don’t want to feed your dog with dog food, talk to your vet and work on a complete and balanced diet plan together.