Food plays such a significant role in our dogs’ lives, and it’s a massive part of our lives as pet parents, too. Every meal we serve weighs in the balance of our furry friends’ health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. It’s no surprise that our friends and Healthy Hounds Newsletter readers have so many questions about dog food. We took the most-asked questions from real Healthy Hounds readers to our resident veterinary technicians to finally get some no-nonsense, straightforward answers.
Meet Our Experts
Dina Fantegrossi, a retired veterinary technician with more than 15 years of veterinary experience, has researched and written hundreds of articles about canine care and volunteers with All4Paws Rescue and other shelters in underprivileged areas of South Carolina.
Amber LaRock is a licensed vet tech with over 10 years of experience in the field. She is currently living in Phnom Phen, Cambodia, where she works with as many animal rescues as possible, including Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society.
Amber LaRock, @vettechandtravel
Amber and Dina put their heads together and provided real answers, plus, an excellent solution for pet parents who want to know what to feed their pups.
How can I get my picky eater to eat?
DF: Picky eating habits may be a result of a medical condition, but more often than not, the problem can be traced back to the owner. Providing too many options, giving table scraps, and offering endless treats allow dogs to hold out for something better. Why should they eat their boring kibble when there’s a strong chance you’ll slip them some bacon?
We recommend choosing a fully balanced, high-quality diet made from fresh ingredients. Picky pups are much more likely to respond to human-grade meat, veggies, and grains than they are to bland commercial diets. Ollie recommends a one-to-one ratio of high-quality meat protein, natural fats, and nutrient-dense carbs like vegetables and seeds to combat heart disease.
Make sure the entire family is on board with the feeding plan. No one should be slipping your dog extra treats or giving in to their begging. Keep dog food and human food separate. Your pup should always eat from their own bowl – never from the table.
What foods are healthy, easy to eat, and safe for dogs?
AL: Many human foods are safe and healthy for your dog that he will really enjoy. In fact, eating some “people foods” daily can really benefit your pup’s health and improve his quality of life. A human-grade, highly digestible lean meat protein source, such as chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef kidney, should be the number one ingredient in your dogs’ food. Dogs love meat, but they also enjoy – and should have – some fruit and veggies in their diet. Sweet potatoes are an excellent slow-burning carbohydrate source. They are rich in plant-based nutrients that support a healthy immune system.
Ollie can help you and your pup find the perfect balance by building a custom meal plan based on your dog’s weight, activity levels, and body type. All you need to do is open your dog’s pre-portioned meals and serve
The superfoods we eat to pack in nutrients are “super” for dogs, too. Chia seeds are gluten-free and rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids omega -3, -6 and -9. This superfood is tiny and mildly flavored, so it’s easily added to a raw or home-cooked diet. Cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA which promotes healthy skin and coat, a strong immune system, and supports brain and vision development in puppies. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are high in iron and antioxidants.
Can certain dog foods cause seizures?
DF: Dogs prone to seizures should not consume any potentially inflammatory ingredients, including foods that trigger allergies or intolerances/sensitivities, such as chemical additives, wheat, corn, soy, beef or cow’s milk products. But remember that this also includes any foods that cause problems for your individual dog.
AL: There are no specific diets for dogs with seizures, many veterinarians recommend homemade meals with high-quality fat and protein sources and lowered carbohydrates – similar to the “Keto” diet popular in humans with diabetes. Higher levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may also help reduce seizures.
What is the best dog food for seniors?
AL: Our canine companions are not exempt from the effects of aging. Along with the greying of their muzzle comes joint pain, a decline in energy, and susceptibility to serious medical conditions. While we can’t prevent them from getting older, we can certainly help them enjoy their senior years a bit more!
A beneficial diet is one of the best ways to keep your pup comfortable in their senior years. The senior recipe recommended by fresh dog food company Ollie includes cod liver oil that is rich in omega fatty acids for joint health, lean proteins to keep your pup slim and trim, and berries packed with antioxidants for fighting off free radicals like cancer cells. These ingredients are gently cooked, meaning all their beneficial nutrients stay intact!
What is the best dog food for diabetic dogs?
DF: While your dog’s food cannot cure their diabetes, it can certainly help manage it. Since your pup is now being regulated with insulin injections to help them stay in a safe blood sugar range, it’s essential to choose a food that’s not too high in sugars or starches.
Sugars and starches can impact the blood glucose levels in your dog’s bloodstream, which can make it much more challenging for their daily insulin injections to do their job. Fresh food diets, such as those by Ollie and other fresh dog food makers, are free of any fillers or artificial ingredients. Since they contain lean proteins that aid in a healthy metabolism, diets tailor-made for your dog are exactly what a diabetic pup needs to thrive!
By removing any ingredients that can impact your diabetic pup’s wellbeing, they have a better chance at a well-managed diabetic condition.
What ingredients should I avoid?
AL: Avoid foods packed with fillers, excess salt and sugar, preservatives, artificial coloring, and additives you can’t pronounce. These “ingredients” contain no nutritional value for your pup and can even have negative effects on his health. Excess sugar has been linked to canine obesity, diabetes, and dental problems. An abundance of salt can cause heart-health issues in dogs just like it can in humans.
When it comes to dog food, you get what you pay for. Many cheap, big-bag dog foods use fillers to make sure your dog’s stomach feels “full,” but that’s all they do. They’re often items we would put in the trash and never feed our dogs. Common fillers include cereal by-products, feathers, hulls from nuts, seeds, beans, grains, weeds, and straw. Not only do they provide no nutritional value, but they can also cause allergic reactions in dogs who have sensitivities.
Check the label on your dog’s food. Ollie uses whole foods in their recipes and doesn’t add anything your dog doesn’t need. No by-products, fillers, artificial coloring, excess sugar or salt, and no preservatives.
What is the best dog food for dry skin or allergies?
DF: Dry skin and allergies are extremely common among our furry friends. Our pups can even be allergic to certain ingredients in their food, making their allergies even more challenging to deal with.
The best food for dogs with skin sensitivities include fresh ingredients that are free of preservatives, free of common allergens like corn or wheat, and are rich in omega fatty acids that help to hydrate the skin. Since Ollie allows you to choose the recipe that best suits your furry friend, you can choose the diet that is packed with nutrients for skin health and free of any allergens that are known to irritate your dog’s skin.
What is the best dog food?
AL: Look for foods made from human-grade meat, veggies, and grains sourced in the United States or Australia. Those mixed in small batches and tailored to your dog’s weight, age, breed, activity level, and allergies are best. Some even come pre-portioned according to how many calories they need.
DF: Though there is no perfect answer to the question, “What is the best dog food?” Like humans, what works for one may not work for another. The best you can do as a loving pet parent is to choose the highest quality fresh ingredients that fit your dog’s individual dietary needs.
One great way to make sure your dog is getting everything he needs to thrive at any stage of his life is Ollie.
Here are just a few reasons we love Ollie:
1. Ollie’s vet-formulated recipes are tailored to meet your special dog’s unique needs.
2. Every meal starts with delicious, high-quality meat, and you can choose allergen-free options like turkey and lamb.
3. They’re packed with nutrient-rich veggies and superfoods and are perfectly balanced to give your dog a meal that fills his bowl, belly, and dietary needs!
4. Ollie ships your dog’s food straight to your door and individually packages each meal – so all you have to do is open and serve!
5. We trust Ollie for their commitment to providing complete recipes with human-grade food that meets AAFCO standards. Thanks to their attention to safety and health standards, they have never had their food recalled and have the highest rating possible from DogFoodAdvisor.com – five stars!
iHeartDogs wants you to try and see for yourself what high-quality dog food can do for your pup. Ollie is offering iHeartDogs readers 60% off their first box of tasty, human-grade dog food. Each recipe that you’ll receive will be formulated especially for your pup by veterinary nutritionists. Your dog will clean his plate and you’ll love the convenience and transparency that Ollie has to offer!
Do you want a healthier & happier dog? Join our email list & we’ll donate 1 meal to a shelter dog in need!