Skip to content

    Healthy Pets

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Dog Food: Why Ingredients Matter

    By Mary Jo DiLonardo
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM

    Is your pup's coat a little dull? Or maybe he could lose a few pounds, has icky teeth, or the occasional tummy problems.

    You may be able to help. Start by taking a look at his dog food.

    Recommended Related to Pets

    Best Pet Deshedding Tools

    It’s on the sofa. It’s all over your favorite sweater. Tufts of it drift across the living room floor like tumbleweeds. Face it. Our furry friends will shed. But fortunately, there's an ever-growing array of deshedding tools to help us handle the hairy onslaught.

    Read the Best Pet Deshedding Tools article > >

    "These days you can find a dog food that is specifically engineered for pretty much whatever you're looking for,” says Kwane Stewart, DVM, chief veterinary officer of the American Humane Association.

    Skin and Coat

    If your dog has skin problems, the first stop should be your vet, suggests veterinary nutritionist Amy Farcas, DVM. "There are many reasons why a dog could have itchy skin and flaky skin, and most of them have nothing to do with food."

    Once your vet rules out problems like fleas, mites, and allergies, you may be able to help your dog get a shinier coat by choosing food with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids or by giving a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement. Talk with your vet about the best way to do that.

    Stomach Problems

    For a dog that has a short bout with vomiting or diarrhea, your vet might suggest feeding him chicken and white rice for a couple of days. That's just a short-term fix, cautions Stewart, and shouldn't be his regular diet.

    "A lot of times a home-cooked meal is just a Band-Aid. Chicken and rice is bland and easy for a dog's stomach to digest, but those foods long term aren't nutritionally balanced," he says.

    Stewart suggests a diet with prebiotics -- a type of fiber that helps feed the good bacteria in your dog's gut. One of the most common types of prebiotics is FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Look for it on the label.

    If that doesn’t help or you’re concerned that it is something in your dog’s food that is causing the problem, it may take some trial and error to figure out what it is, Stewart says. "A lot of time we just don’t know what ingredient your dog is sensitive to."

    Your vet may suggest trying a low-fiber diet or a low-fat diet, to see if it helps.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Puppy digging hole
    Are you putting your pet at risk?
    Cat looking at fish
    Things we can learn from our pets.
     
    dog and kitten
    27 ways pets help your health.
    tick
    Get the facts about prevention.
     
    Woman holding puppy
    Article
    Sad dog and guacamole
    Slideshow
     
    Siamese cat eating from bowl
    Slideshow
    cat on couch
    Evaluator
     
    Cat People vs Dog People Slideshow
    Slideshow
    Kitten playing
    Quiz
     
    Orange cat nuzzling woman
    Slideshow
    German shephard reading a book
    Quiz