Recently, domestic dog breeders have an alternative to traditional homemade food. These are prepared dry feeds and canned food for animals. Dry granular feeds have gained particular popularity. However, the number of their consumers and fans among owners, veterinarians, animal physiologists and the dogs themselves is almost equal to the number of opponents.
The benefits or dangers of dry feed cannot be said unambiguously. In Western countries, high-breed animals that have grown and live in nurseries have been receiving extremely balanced branded feeds for 10-15 generations.
The indisputable advantage of dry feeds is their long shelf life, as well as the convenience and speed of the feeding process itself. The need to chew dense granules has a positive effect on the condition of the dog’s oral cavity: the teeth are strengthened, cleaned of plaque and tartar, the gums become healthy and do not bleed. In addition, according to manufacturers, ready-made diets contain everything that is necessary for the growth, development and well-being of the animal. In other words, the owner does not need to carefully weigh and select all the necessary elements in the required proportions – they are already contained in the finished products.
Currently, the assortment of dry feeds is unusually diverse and is divided into 3 classes: “economy”, “premium” and “superpremium” depending on the composition and ingredients used and the manufacturing technology. The most expensive and preferred are the premium class foods, which are made from high quality products and are most fully absorbed by animals. A complete diet is based on a complex of vital amino acids, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which ensure healthy skin condition and a suitable type of coat.
Given the different purchasing power of dog owners and the taste preferences of animals, firms often produce all 3 classes of feed. For example, Purina offers an economy class feed line called Darling; premium class – under the name “Dog Chow” and class “super premium” – under the name “Pro Plan”. Under the same brand, Frieskies feeds are called “commercial options”.
Formulas of feeds of the “superpremium” class most fully take into account the characteristics of the dog’s body, in particular such as:
– age (dry substitute for mother’s milk for suckling puppies, food for puppies and young animals of the Puppi and Junior series, food for adult dogs of the Adult series, and food for dogs over 8 years of age of the Senior series);
– adult weight (feed for small breeds weighing up to 10 kg; for medium breeds weighing 11 to 25 kg; for large breeds from 26 to 44 kg, for giant breeds weighing over 45 kg);
– physiological characteristics (feed for pregnant and lactating bitches, feed for castrated dogs and sterilized bitches, low-calorie feeds for dogs prone to obesity);
– food preferences (special foods with enhanced flavor, satisfying the appetite of the most demanding and fastidious dogs);
– state of health (special therapeutic feeds – for example, for dogs prone to food allergies, for dogs with a sensitive stomach, with kidney disease);
– degree of activity and physical activity (special high-calorie feed for hunting, sports and working dogs).
For small puppies (under the age of 5 months) buy food of the Puppi series, for teenagers and young dogs under the age of 1.5–2 years – buy the Junior series. Getting acquainted with the composition of high-grade concentrates, pay special attention to the content of proteins and fats in them. High-quality puppy foods contain about 30% crude protein, with at least 2/3 of this amount being high-quality natural meat proteins. The percentage of fat is not more than 20%, which creates optimal digestibility of the feed. Foods with a higher percentage of fat are stored very briefly and deteriorate quickly during storage.
Puppy food is high in calories. It can be said energy in concentrated form. With very high energy requirements, the baby’s digestive system is very limited, so high-quality puppy foods contain proteins that are specially selected according to the principle of high digestibility. Fodders of the “economy” class, at their low price, are the lowest quality and contain only 4% of high-grade meat protein. The bulk of the proteins in such feeds are meat and bone meal and soy protein.
Veterinarians know that dog stool is one of the best indicators of product quality. If the dog digests the food well, the amount of excrement will be small, and the stool itself will be dense and well-formed. Low-quality protein is poorly digested and quickly passes through the intestines, leading to soft (gruff) stools with an unpleasant odor or even diarrhea.