Dog owners all over the world always ask what they should feed their dogs. The same is true in the Philippines, where dog owners are faced with a wide array of choices that can be confusing for any pet owner.
For the purposes of this blog, I will put dog food under five categories — dry kibbles, wet or canned, fresh, raw, and home-cooked.
If you would check the internet, experts have varying opinions on what you should feed your dog, some of them conflicting. As a long-time dog owner, what I can say is that there is no hard and fast rule on what you should feed your dog. That’s because what works well for one may not be good for another.
Other factors to consider are availability of the food. Some brands are not available outside Metro Manila, while others do not have a steady supply, which can be difficult since some dogs experience stomach upset whenever their diets are changed. Your lifestyle is also a factor — preparing a home-cooked meal means you should make time for it, and for some, this is just not possible. The dog’s preference is also a factor — you can buy what is supposedly the healthiest food out there, but your dog may simply choose to ignore it. And of course, you should also listen to what your vet says.
Allow me to discuss the pros and cons of each type of diet from a pet owner’s point of view.
Dry kibbles – In terms of convenience, nothing beats giving dry kibbles. You simply open the bag, put it into your dog’s bowl, and he’ll wolf it down with delight. Having said that, let me say that that sounds far easier than it actually sounds. That’s because dry dog food vary greatly in quality–there are very good brands as well as trash brands on the shelves of pet supplies stores in the Philippines. Ask your vet or your breeder for his recommendation of a good brand. Make it a point to look at the list of ingredients of your dog food. Remember that the first item mentioned constitutes the bulk of ingredients used. While we’re at it, let me emphasize that you should NEVER buy your dog food from a hardware store simply because it’s cheap. Many of those low-cost brands have been implicated in cases of bladder and kidney stones, which are definitely not cheap to treat. If you go with an all-kibble diet, make sure to give your dog plenty of water. You can also add treats like vegetables and fruits to give him enough fiber. Personally, dry kibbles form part of the diet of most of my dogs. I must stress that I only use high-quality kibble. My dogs’ mainstay faves include Royal Canin (I know it’s not rated five-star but my dogs love it for its palatability); Go Nat Salmon; and for some of the less finicky ones, Acana and Orijen. I also used to give Diamond Naturals and Taste of the Wild but stocks are not always available in Metro Manila. Someone recently gave me a bag of Nupec and our younger dogs liked its taste.
Canned food — You’ll find plenty of these in grocery stores and dogs generally like the taste of these. Again, you can find extra good stuff as well as plain trash when it comes to canned dog food. That said, you could probably imagine the amount of preservatives in anything that is canned.
Fresh food— There has been a spike in the number of fresh dog food choices now in the market, especially in the US and Canada, but this is not the case in the Philippines. Having said that, there are a number of fresh food suppliers here who take orders and can deliver a week’s supply of fresh food to your home. The nice thing about this is that the meal can be especially designed to suit your dog’s preferences and nutritional requirements. I’ve heard pretty good reviews and outcomes among those who use this diet. On the downside, it is not the cheapest option out there and delivery areas are also limited. Hopefully, the number of fresh food suppliers in the Philippines would grow.
Raw – A lot of people swear by the benefits of a raw food diet, but it still remains controversial at this point. I have tried to go raw for my dogs, but gave up because I saw how it could be time consuming, meaning, I will have to personally shop for my raw stocks , a task which I cannot delegate given the risks that I believe are involved. I am not too sure how raw cuts are handled in butchers and markets in the Philippines, so I prefer not to go this route. That said, I know of some people who have done this with good results. What’s more, they say it is really affordable.
Homemade – I’ve seen a growing number of dog owners switch to home made diets because it gives them a sense of security knowing exactly what their dogs are being fed. If you can find time to cook your pet’s meal every day, then this may be a good option to check out. If you want to go this route, check with your vet before proceeding. Your vet may even be able to recommend a good recipe that you can try out. Make sure to check your vet for vitamins and supplements that you may need to add to your dog’s diet. Personally, I combine homemade food with kibbles for my dogs.
Whatever you choose for your dog, make sure that it meets his nutritional and health needs, i.e., it does not make him too fat, he gets no allergies, etc. And most of all, don’t scrimp on his dog food, which is false economy. Feeding cheap food might seem easier on your pocket, but if that leads to some disease like allergies or worse, stones, you’ll end up paying so much more.
Remember, your best buddy’s health is dependent on the nutrition he receives, and getting him the best is the least you can do for your friend.