Choosing food for our dogs can be a confusing task. From kibble, to canned food, raw to fresh, there are so many options, brands and diet philosophies, each with passionate advocates and convincing marketing.

There are also quite a few myths and misconceptions floating around about what the “best” food is for dogs.

So how do you decide? Here at Puppo, we’re all about making your life easier, so we’re breaking it down for you in this article.

Three Magic Words: Complete and Balanced

Here’s the thing — there’s no one “right” food for every dog. Every dog has different needs and preferences, and those needs change throughout their lives. That’s why personalized nutrition is so important to us!

That said, every dog does need a complete and balanced diet in order to thrive. So what does that mean?

Put simply, there are about 40 essential nutrients dogs need (that’s the complete part) and each must be present in the correct amount and in a form dogs can use (balanced). That includes the 4 macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and  minerals).

In the US, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes the nutritional requirements a pet food must contain in order to be 100% complete and balanced for a specific lifestage.

Meeting these requirements means selecting just the right ingredients and vitamin and mineral mixes to provide all the micro- and macronutrients a dog needs, while meeting their caloric requirements. It’s a precise science, which is why many homemade dog foods fall short, according to experts.

Not so with Puppo! Every personalized nutrition plan is 100% complete and balanced for the appropriate lifestage, and made from wholesome, high-quality, ingredients. You can even change it up — swap out proteins, go grain-free, try some new veggies — we do all the number-crunching for you to ensure every vitamin and mineral your dog needs is present in the right amounts, and can be absorbed by their body.

What Does Your Dog Really Need?

As humans, we often think that what’s right for us must also be right for our dogs. After all, if I’m eating grain-free or low-carb, shouldn’t my dog too?

Another common idea is that dogs need to eat like canines in the wild do — no grains, just raw meat and bones. Here’s what you should know about these misconceptions.

Does My Dog Need Grain-Free Food?

The fact is that while some dogs are sensitive to grains, many are not. In fact, animal protein sources tend to be the most common food allergen in dogs.

When balanced with other essential macronutrients, whole grains can actually be an excellent source of nutrients, providing protein, fats, and vitamins/minerals. They also provide a variety of carbohydrates, some of which serve as energy sources. These carbohydrates are balanced by fats, to provide both short and longer-term energy. This balance helps keep a dog’s blood glucose stable and energy levels stable.

In addition, grains also provide fiber, which firms up feces and cleans the GI tract, helping to keep it healthy.

Of course, if your dog is sensitive to grains, Puppo has your back. We include  grain-free carbohydrate sources like potatoes, peas, and lentils. And we always leave out wheat and corn, opting instead for wholesome whole grains like brown rice.

The Truth About Raw and Fresh Food

Let’s start with raw food.

The bottom line is that the CDC, the FDA, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) all discourage owners from feeding dogs raw food. It is not always safe for dogs, or the people who live with them.

Even “human-grade” USDA-inspected raw meat can harbor dangerous bacteria like Salmonella, listeria, and E. coli. These and other pathogens in raw meat can make both dogs and people in the household very sick, especially vulnerable groups like children, immunocompromised people, and the elderly.

One alternative is a freshly cooked diet, but these have downsides too. They’re again expensive, time-consuming to prepare, and inconvenient. Like raw food, fresh meals are highly susceptible to spoilage and must be used promptly. Food past its prime can make your dog sick or end up going to waste.

Safely sourcing and preparing a balanced raw or fresh diet at home is an expensive and time-consuming task — and even when all precautions are taken, not without risks. Opting for a commercial refrigerated or raw pet food isn’t much better. These also run the risk of spoilage and microbial contamination, and there have been many recalls of pet foods in this category this year alone.

On the other hand, with a shelf-stable food like Puppo, we add vitamins and minerals to ensure the food is complete and balanced every day, and over the entire shelf life of the product.

The Bottom Line

The fact is, whether freshly cooked or raw, many of these diets simply are not complete and balanced. The average person just isn’t a veterinary nutritionist. And you shouldn’t have to be!

The important thing is that you give your pet the love and nutrition they need to thrive. We believe nutrition is the basis of a dog’s wellness and we also believe it doesn’t have to be expensive, dangerous, or inconvenient to give your dog the nutrition they need.

With Puppo, your dog’s food arrives at your door in the precise amount you need, so it never goes to waste, and you never run out. We do all the work of sourcing the very best ingredients from the most trusted suppliers and farmers. And you can be confident your dog is always getting their ideal blend of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, with absolutely zero junk.