Just like humans need proper nutrition to be healthy, so do our dogs. But the decision on what to feed our dogs can be a confusing one. Pet stores usually have a whole aisle dedicated to dog food with a large assortment of brands. And the fact that there lacks regulations in pet food labeling only makes things harder for consumers. But with the very real concern of contaminated food from bacteria and chemicals, we need to put some effort into educating ourselves for the sake of our pet’s well-being.
This topic is especially close to my heart since I had a beautiful Doberman die young of cancer. To this day, I wonder if it was my fault for feeding her cheap dog food. I didn’t know better back then and there weren’t many options for healthy dog food. Luckily today things are different, we have some good dog food companies, and information is easily found about raw food diets. (FYI, I’m currently feeding the Acana grain-free dog food.)
So what Doberman food should we buy?
Ideally, we would want to feed our dogs home-made, human-grade, raw meat meals but this is just not practical for most people. I’ve considered the raw diet but decided against it.
Here are some common reasons people don’t feed raw.
- more expensive
- need to ensure it’s “nutritionally balanced”
- can be time-consuming
- the risk of salmonella
- MESSY! Who wants raw chicken spilling out of a dog bowl onto the kitchen floor?
- small freezer space
- and it’s just not practical if the dog is boarded or during travels
A new option and alternative to raw food is dehydrated dog food like The Honest Kitchen.
Note: Most dog food sold at the grocery store is garbage.
Good dog food now exists, but depending on where you live, you might have to do some searching. If you’re going to feed dry dog food, find a good quality kibble food and supplement it with other “real food” goodies to ensure your dog is getting a “balanced” diet. It also makes things more interesting for your dog.
When looking for good dog food, you want to avoid kibbles high in grains (corn, flour, etc) and choose one with a meat or meat meal in the first three ingredients. Also, look that the label says “meat” and not ” by-product”. (But realize that not all by-products are bad. Dogs in the wild would eat most of an animal. It’s the non-digestible stuff that is bad, like hooves or hair.)
I’ll repeat this since it’s an important thing to consider: You want meat listed in the first 3 ingredients. And try to find a company or farmer you can trust that uses quality meat, not diseased animals. Preferably from human-grade, grass-fed or free-range animals. Dogs are carnivores and need a high protein diet. To help you compare different dog food brands, you can read a previous post for more tips.
- Add chicken broth, bone broth, or natural gravy to dry kibble. This adds needed moisture. But avoid broths with lots of sugar, salt, spices, or preservatives. Extra moisture is especially important if your dog doesn’t drink much water.
- Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top.
- Add low-fat plain yogurt, kefir, or sour cream for probiotics.
- Add a teaspoon or two (depending on your dog’s size) of flaxseed oil or fish oil to the kibble (omega-3 acids)
- And my dog’s favorite flavor enhancer is a can of salmon or sardines in water. They start whining as soon as I open the can.
- Or add a hard-boiled egg to their kibble
Don’t forget if you have a fast-gulping eater, get them a food dish that makes them work a bit. Dobermans are susceptible to deadly bloat so watch for this. It’s a good idea to buy them a Slow Feeding Dish. I love mine, it’s stainless steel, dishwasher safe, and has an anti-skid bottom.
As for dog treats, if you can’t find a product that has organic, human-grade ingredients then try a home-made recipe. Dried liver treats are easy to make and dogs love them. Bake it in the oven and you have a cheap and nutritious dog treat for your Doberman. But if you hate cooking, an easy alternative is to give your dog a vegetable or fruit treats like apple slices or green beans. Ideally, you want to give protein treats instead of high carb/grain, store-bought cookies.
Instead of raw hides that may have preservatives, are bleached, and have artificial flavors and colors, ask a butcher for bones or chicken necks. To kill any surface bacteria, you can freeze them first or you can submerge the bones in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just long enough to kill the bacteria. Remember that cooking bones make them easier to splinter so avoid giving your dog cooked bones.
Beware hard bones and antler chews!
If you can’t bend it or wack it on your own knee, it’s probably too hard for your dog’s teeth. Dogs love beef marrow bones, but they can chip your dogs’ teeth. Once he’s chewed the meat off the bone, throw it out! Don’t risk a tooth fracture. In the wild, dogs wouldn’t eat a large heavy animal like a cow, their teeth are meant for smaller prey. Again don’t risk your dog breaking a tooth. Seriously you don’t want an expensive dental vet bill.
A good alternative for recreational chewing are Bully Pizzle sticks. These are a good option to keep dogs busy chewing and give you some quiet time.
Lastly, know which foods to never give your dog. Some foods to avoid include chocolate, onions, macadamia nuts, grapes/raisins, soy, citrus, and sugar xylitol.
I don’t think anyone would recommend vegetarian diets for dogs. Domestic dogs are omnivores who favor meat. In the wild, dogs naturally eat meat, bones, vegetables, fruits, and any grains present in the stomach of the dead animal. You should aim to give your dog a diet similar to what their wild family relatives eat.
Also, don’t worry too much about whether your dog likes his food. Compared to humans, who have about 9000 taste buds, dogs only have about 1700 taste buds. They shouldn’t be picky eaters like we are. But of course, their sense of smell is better than humans, so do try to make their food smell interesting. The stinkier the better. Sardines and eggs smell great to dogs.
In another post, I’ll provide you with guidelines to find good quality dog food for your Doberman.
And for unbiased reviews of common dog food brands, check out dogfoodadvisor.com.