How do you know what and how you feed your furry friend? Is your dogs food giving them enough energy, adequate nutrients, the right ingredients, the right amount?

In this article, we'll talk about how to evaluate your dogs food, the nutritional needs for different dogs, and understanding the difference between 'commercial' and 'non-commercial' dog food.

How To Evaluate Your Dog's Food

Evaluating dog food is a simple and straight-forward procedure of comparing certain characteristics of one food with those of other types of foods that are available to feed your dog.

Regardless of whatever procedure you learn and use in order to effectively evaluate your dog's needs should have enough built-in flexibility that innovative dog feeders can adapt it to best fit your own situation and further reduce their margin of error.

When making an evaluation, the four characteristics of a satisfactory dog food, discussed below, should be used as the minimum standards that any food must meet.

Those four basic standards are:

1) A food should contain sufficient energy for daily activity

2) A food should contain adequate nutrients, in proper relationship to each other

3) A food should contain ingredients that are usable by a dog

4) A food should be acceptable in a sufficient quantity to fully supply items 1) and items 2) above

Whilst evaluating your dogs food, it's important to recognise there are also different nutritional needs for different dog types.

Nutritional Needs For Different Dog-types

Whilst the first dogs were undoubtedly kept as companions, it probably did not take long to realize the working value of this newly-made friend.  Even before the history of dogs was recorded, these pets were helping man for a variety of purposes, mainly to hunt for food.  In those days, however, hunting was not a sport, but serious hard work.

Today some dogs still help man in his quest for food, but the nature of the job has taken on a different form. Whatever the purpose or nature of the job, the performance of work always requires time expenditure of energy. As a consequence, every working dog's primary dietary need is increased energy.  Whenever dietary energy is increased, those B-complex vitamins, minerals, and the water necessary for burning the energy must also be increased.

Except for this increased need for energy and the nutrients to burn it, working dogs require most nutrients at no greater levels than non-working dogs.  When working dogs eat large quantities of ordinary maintenance dog foods to obtain all of the energy they need, they frequently consume some of the nutrients in excessive amounts.  Paradoxically, they may also eat such large quantities that the digestibility of all the nutrients in their diet are adversely affected and some nutrients may actually be obtained in inadequate amounts.

In other cases, a working dog simply cannot, physically, eat all of a food needed to supply its energy needs.  In these instances the dog suffers from the lack of total digestible energy, and loses weight.  If the condition is allowed to continue, the dog will reduce its activities in order to reduce its caloric demands.  If the dog is forced to continue working at the same pace, it will lose weight faster and laster, and eventually work itself to death.

Therefore it's essential when evaluating your dogs food, you take different dog types into consideration.

Understanding The Difference Between Commercial and Non-Commercial Dog Foods

As a dog owner you have two options on the type of food that you can provide for your dog; commercial foods and non-commercial foods.

Non-commercial foods, are not necessarily foods which are not associated in some manner with a commercial enterprise, nor are they foods that do not cost money.  The term ''non-commercial'', refers to those foods which are not a part of the commercial pet food industry or are not sold exclusively as dog food.

Actually, the first food fed to a dog was a non-commercial food, which are  leftovers of some caveman's meal.  Some of the earliest records provide both descriptions and pictures of dogs being thrown food from the table.  It is likely that most of these scraps that were thrown to modern dog's early ancestors were an assortment of unbalanced morsels that were unfit or unwanted by human owners.  Some of the more obvious skeletal and growth defects from improper nutrition are depicted in some of the earliest drawings and figures of dogs.

For over 3000 years dogs survived an existence from the food left to them by the owners who had domesticated them.  Gradually, as dog-raising became more common, elaborate formulations of natural ingredients were compounded for feeding dogs.  These formulations were meticulously designed to duplicate exactly the dog's wild diet.  They were carefully kept from generation to generation.  A few that were inherently balanced have survived.  But, for the most part, the preparation of a dog's diet from complex formulas and elaborate ingredients have disappeared in exchange for a cheaper, more practical, and far better balanced commercial foods.

Dog owners who provide non-commercial foods for their dogs claim to do so because of economy or better nutrition.  Although it is possible to provide economy and a good source of nutrition from a diet of non-commercial foods, an examination of most such feeding programs quickly reveals that neither economy nor better nutrition prevail.  In fact, in many occasions, the dog owner is unknowingly providing his pet with a poorer quality nourishment at a price higher than he would have to pay for commercial foods.

Further Reading...

If you enjoyed this article, please check out 4 Important Tips When Feeding Your Dog.