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Dog Nutrition Trends for 2023

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The number of people adopting animals has continued to rise in the few years since the pandemic. Viewing their four-legged best pals as members of the family, people are willing to spend more on their pets year after year. Among the areas where people are now investing more money are their dog’s nutritional needs. Whether it be healthier food options, more sustainable dog food companies, or supplements, dog parents are keeping up with the trends of what’s best for their pups.

Dog Nutrition

As any dog parent will attest, one of the most important roles of being a pet parent is keeping your canine companion healthy and happy. While daily exercise is crucial to achieving this goal, your dog’s nutrition is just as essential. In many aspects, dog nutritional requirements are similar to a human’s. There are many nutrients dogs should receive daily, from meat, grain, fruits, and vegetables.

Dog Food Industry Trends

Dog food follows various trends, which can change from one year to the next. With people continuing to treat their dogs as equal members of the family, it comes as little surprise that many of the standards people expect in their food they now want in their dog’s food as well.

  • Good nutrition dog food

    At the most basic level, dog parents want food for their pets that contains a portion of the daily required proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. People prefer to steer away from food that only “fills your dog up” without providing any bit of nutritional value. A human equivalent of poor-nutrition food would be junk food. Though eating it may fix the issue of you being hungry, you won’t be gaining any nutritional value, and too much could poorly affect your health—the same is true for our canine companions.

  • Organic pet food trends

    Over the years, many people have turned towards only purchasing organic foods for themselves, and some pet parents might prefer to pass these eating habits to their dogs. When dog food is labeled ‘organic,’ this means that the ingredients are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For organic animal items such as meat or dairy products, the animals will not have been fed antibiotics or growth hormones.

  • Freeze-dried

    Working in the same way as freeze-dried human food, where the moisture is removed, this style of canine food and treats has become more popular over the years. A great benefit of this option is that it lasts longer and is usually less processed than traditional kibble. While some pet parents prefer to give freeze-dried food for the entire meal, others add a small amount on top of their dog’s dinner as an added, tasty topping that provides variety.

  • Frozen

    Although the names may sound similar, frozen dog food is different from freeze-dried, mainly because the moisture is not removed. There are many great benefits to frozen dog food, including having it delivered straight to your home, it lasting longer, and being able to serve whole, fresh ingredients without the hassle of preparation.

  • Human-grade options

    Although it’s crucial to know what human food is harmful to dogs, it can be helpful to know which foods are also safe for canines to consume. Some dog parents have found benefits to giving their dogs whole foods, such as eggs or salmon, or other healthy options like yogurt. While some pet parents may carefully plan and prepare a person-worthy meal for their dog nearly every day, others may cook up a special meal a few times a month. There are even some meals that have proven benefits for your pup. For instance, if your best pal has an unsettled stomach and diarrhea, cooking them a meal of boiled chicken (fat and skin-free) and rice (long-grain, white) can help settle their stomach.

  • Online retailers and subscription services

    Taking off with the start of the pandemic, online services and straight-to-home delivery services have become more popular than ever. Many pet parents prefer the options available online, which are often much more abundant than the few in-person pet stores that may be located near them. For busy pet parents who are always on the go, purchasing products online is much more efficient. They don’t have to take the time to drive to and from the store and can shop from the convenience of their home on their phone or computer.

    Along with online shopping options for canine food, many companies now offer subscription services. The customization options may vary from one company to the next, but by signing up for a monthly pet food delivery option, you can eliminate one chore from your monthly to-do list.

  • Sustainable and responsible companies

    Environmentally friendly, value-driven companies have gained significant traction among young pet parents. By locally sourcing products, companies can lower shipping needs and thus their carbon footprint. Plus, by using less packaging and recycled materials, they can decrease the amount of waste they produce. For many dog parents, when companies take even a small step towards helping the environment, this can be a significant reason for them choosing to purchase their products.

Although these dog food options have a growing popularity among millions of dog parents, it’s essential that you still consider your own dog’s needs and talk with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet. It’s also worth noting that it’s not unusual for a dog’s stomach to become uneasy when switching between different types of food, so your veterinarian may also have some helpful tips on making this transition as smooth as possible.

As veterinary medicine has progressed, there is now more accurate diagnostic testing available, allowing dog parents to understand better if their pet has any medical issues and requires a specialized diet. For instance, dog food options are now available that support low-calorie diets or the nutritional needs of a dog with diabetes.

dog begging for food

Healthy Dog Nutrition

After considering the various ways you can purchase your dog’s food and the different diet and nutritional plans they can follow, it’s equally as important to understand what should be in your dog’s food.

Of course, the specific amounts of the components will vary based on your dog’s age (puppy, adult, senior) and whether they have any medical conditions. In a normal situation, every canine requires a combination of minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water. Together these six components help ensure that your dog’s essential bodily functions continue to work. Like people, while each of these six areas is necessary, there’s a range for healthy levels. Too much of something or too little could lead to some further issues.

In addition to their dog’s food, many pet parents also add daily supplements to their pet’s diet. Popular supplement options include fish oil, vitamins, probiotics, and CBD products.

How To Read Dog Food Nutrition Labels

With literally hundreds of dog food and treat options available, you may find it slightly overwhelming to keep track of what’s in each product and what exactly all the information on the labels means. Thankfully, most food labels will contain the same core bit of information.

  • Product or Brand Name

    As you shop around for different dog foods, you may notice that the product name often reflects the product itself. For instance, “Chicken for Dogs” should contain a majority of the chicken ingredient. When a food contains phrases such as “dinner, entrée, or platter,” you can expect that there’s far less of the main ingredient.

    You will also want to keep an eye out for phrases like “with” or “flavor.” When dog food is labeled as “Dog Dinner with Salmon” or “Beef Flavor Dog Food,” you can expect that the percentage requirement of the main ingredient is much lower.

  • Quantity

    Whether you purchase large bags of kibble, small containers of wet food, or pouches of treats, the quantity may vary between count, weight, and liquid measurement. When determining which type of food is a better deal, don’t forget to calculate the cost per pound or ounce.

  • Guaranteed Analysis

    With dog food, there are various regulations about the minimum amounts of nutrients and maximum amounts of crude fiber and moisture that must be listed on the food packaging. Included percentages for crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and water should all be easily found on your pup’s food bag. When looking at these percentages, you will notice that if a food guarantees a particular element, such as “low fat,” it should be reflected as such under the guaranteed analysis.

  • Ingredients

    The ingredient list is, perhaps, the most important part of any dog food label. The ingredients included will be listed in descending order by the weight included, they should be listed by their common name, and the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) regulates that collective ingredient terms such as “animal protein products” are not allowed.

    Of course, if your dog is allergic to or has an intolerance for specific foods, the ingredient list will be where you can find out if a particular brand can work for your dog. While you scan the list of items included, you may come across the term “byproducts.” Although that is something most people may not want in their food, for their canine counterparts, some of the included byproducts may provide helpful vitamins and some delicious flavors—at least for your pup.

  • Nutritional Adequacy Statement

    You may need to look at the back or side of your dog’s food or for the fine print to find this information. Whenever an item claims to be “complete and balanced,” it’s also saying that it has met specific requirements and standards, including containing the correct amount of nutrients for a dog to be healthy.

    This statement on some products may also list the stage of a dog’s life it is tailored to (puppy, adult, senior), along with their size and breed.

Don’t forget to check the expiration date on your dog’s food before purchasing it. Like human food, a dog’s food can go bad and lose nutritional value once the sell-by and best-by date have passed.

As you look over all this information listed on your pup’s food, you will also come across the feeding directions. Although these can provide an idea of how much food your dog will require, it is best to talk with your veterinarian about their recommendations for meal size. Depending on if your dog needs to gain or lose weight, how active they are, and any number of factors, these can each affect how much food they should have per meal.

Dog food trends can change from one year to the next, including consumer buying habits and up-and-coming pet food brands. However, some things about dog nutrition remain unchanged, including dog parents wanting to provide high-quality and nutritious food for their best pal.

An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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