Post sponsored by Open Farm Dog Food. We only partner with brands we believe in.
New Year’s is the perfect time to reflect on the past year, and set goals for the year to come. But humans aren’t the only ones who benefit from resolutions! Now is the perfect time to reassess your dog’s health and happiness, and plan for the next twelve months.
According to pet nutrition expert Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, author of the Ultimate Pet Health Guide and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, “the single biggest thing you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is provide them with optimal nutrition.”
With that in mind, this year, resolve to invest in a quality dog food.
Why to switch dog foods
Before switching food, take stock of your dog’s current health. These are some signs that it might be time to switch dog foods:
- Frequent soft stool or upset tummy
- Food sensitivities
- Dull or flaky coat
- Weight problems
- New life stage (transitioning from puppyhood to adulthood, or into their senior years)
Even if your dog is doing well on their current food, there may be a healthier option available. Many major brands promote healthy or natural ingredients, but don’t actually give details about where those ingredients come from. That’s why we were so excited to learn about Open Farm.
Open Farm is a family-run company that’s committed to making the highest-quality pet food from farm to bowl. Their grain-free foods contain only all-natural, humanely-sourced ingredients, and are formulated with optimum nutrition in mind. Best of all, they’re compatible for dogs of all life stages!
Quality dog food matters
Switching to a high-quality food like Open Farm can ensure good health for your dog for years to come. To understand why quality dog food matters, it helps to think of human nutrition. Most of us are guilty of eating unhealthy, high-calorie foods like pizza. It’s delicious, we know, but it isn’t something we should eat everyday. It’s the same way for dogs: there’s a lot of stuff they can get away with eating, but dogs thrive with appropriate nutrition.
So, what makes a quality food? According to Dr. Richter, “the first step with pet foods is to keep the ingredients natural. No artificial ingredients/ preservatives should ever be used.” In addition, quality dog food is free from unnecessary fillers. Many major dog food brands include fillers like corn, wheat, and high-carb products that don’t do anything for your dog. Feeding a diet high in fillers is almost like eating pizza for every meal. A good, nutritious food satisfies your pup’s hunger and nutritional needs without any extra junk.
Finally, a quality dog food will have transparent sourcing and manufacturing practices. According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, pet food manufacturers should practice quality control measures like testing ingredients and end products for nutrient content, and conducting supplier audits. In other words, you should be able to find out where your dog’s food comes from, and how it gets made!
Very few companies are transparent about their ingredients. However, Open Farm’s commitment to ethical and transparent sourcing practices means stands out in the business. It means you can trust that your dog’s food comes from a good place. Open Farm partners with third-party organizations like Certified Humane and Ocean Wise that are leaders in humane farming and sustainable fishing standards. They abide by their strict mandates and undergo audits to certify their supply chain and ensure that they’re maintaining the highest possible standards.
Understanding ingredients: how to decipher the dog food label
Choosing a food with healthy ingredients sounds simple, but isn’t. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to decode nutrition labels on commercial dog food. It helps to know what the wrong ingredients look like on a label. Food with generic ingredients like “meat meal” or just “meat” may contain icky rendered meat products. Similarly, fillers like corn, soy, and wheat signal lower-quality food.
One thing missing from most pet food labels is information on where exactly the ingredients come from. A food can say it contains a “natural” ingredient, but how do you know what that really means? According to an investigation in Slate, “there is essentially no federal enforcement of standards for the contents of pet food,” and meat rendering facilities have different standards from state to state.
In general, quality dog foods list easily-identifiable whole foods and safe supplements. The ingredients list should focus on single-source proteins and natural fruits and veggies. Open Farm takes their labels (and website) a step further, allowing pet parents to instantly trace the origin of every ingredient in their bag of Open Farm pet food. All you have to do is enter the lot code on the back of your bag, and you’ll see where each ingredient came from and was purchased. By naming the farmers who grow their protein and produce, Open Farm takes all the mystery out of dog food ingredient sourcing.
How to switch your dog’s food
Once you resolve to invest in quality dog food, it’s important to change your dog’s diet gradually to prevent tummy trouble. Start by substituting a little bit of their new food in place of the old food in their regular meals. Then, over the course of 7-10 days, gradually decrease the amount of their current dog food while increasing the amount of new dog food.
As you transition your dog’s food, keep an eye on their behavior (and also their poop). If they become itchy or exhibit signs of digestive upset, speak to your vet.
The bottom line: quality dog food = quality life
Premium dog foods can cost a bit more up front, but over time, they can actually save you money. For one thing, your dog will eat less: high-quality protein is more satisfying than bulky filler. Above all, healthier, safer food means a healthier dog over time, which will save you money (and emotional distress) on vet visits.
For more, check out The Top 7 Reasons to Switch Your Dog’s Food.
Make a New Year’s resolution that counts: switch to a high-quality food like Open Farm with ingredients that you can trust in every bowl.