High quality food is the cornerstone of good nutrition—and a healthy, happy dog. And when deciding upon what food you will give your besty, we recommend you consider cost more broadly than the price of the food. Think ‘total cost of ownership’:
- For you. The better the diet, the healthier the dog—and the lower the vet bills. High quality foods have fewer ingredients that produce allergies, intolerances or digestive problems.
- For your besty. Fewer problems associated with high quality dog food means a happier dog.
We recommend that for a newly adopted dog you stick for the first two or three months with whatever he was receiving in foster care, so make sure to ask. When you change food, do it gradually over a week or so by mixing the two, raising the share of the new food you intend to give him. If, after two or three months on his new food, your Basenji has behavioral, skin or digestive issues, the new food may be the cause.
There are several types of dog foods to select from, and each has particular considersations.
- Veterinarians are split on raw food diets. Advocates say it is closest to a dog’s ancestral diet. Owners have reported improvements in their dogs’ health after starting them on a raw diet. But critics observe bacteria in raw meat pose threats to both dogs and humans and that the diet is unbalanced. What’s more, some dogs refuse to eat raw food. If you want to try raw food, we recommend you try different brands of prepared raw meals to identify the one that agrees best with your Basenji.
- Freeze dried food is more expensive but easier to feed.
- Some canned foods have fewer additives because they are prepared under sterile conditions. Also, canned food frequently provides more protein than dry food. That said, make no assumptions: read the label to determine the food’s nutritional value, and whether it has low cost or filler products.
- Kibble is generally the easiest to feed and can be inexpensive. But it also has the highest risk of having low quality ingredients and generating allergic reactions, intolerances or digestive problems. If you opt to feed your B dry food, stick with known higher quality brands. And remember that dry food poses dehydration risk, so always add water or broth (no or very low sodium) to moisten it. Allowing the kibble to soak up the fluids for 15 minutes before feeding also will aid your dog’s digestion.
It is also possible and desirable to feed home-prepared food, raw or cooked. However, take care to ensure the food contains all the nutrients necessary for good health. Meat alone is insufficient.
Considerations for selecting a particular food:
- Protein ingredients matter. A named meat (i.e., beef, lamb, duck), the protein source, should be the first ingredient listed on the label. If the label says something generic like poultry or meat, this means the product is low quality. If the label says “meat byproducts”, skip it. This is low quality food that can contain nasty things. Switch foods with different primary meat ingredients such as venison, goat ,rabbit, bison or duck. Dogs can develop food intolerances if they are always fed the same meat.
- Fruits and vegetables are a plus. But pay attention to calories per cup, particularly if your Basenji is overweight. And keep in mind that foods labeled for weight control are not always low calorie.
- Chemical preservatives are bad. Avoid foods containing those such as BHA, GHT or ethoxyquin. Natural preservatives such as vitamins C & E, or green tea polyphenols are ok. Rosemary is ok unless your dog suffers from seizures.
- Organic is good. Select organic products if they are available.
- Less is more. Foods with fewer ingredients are better. And fewer additives are better.
- Grain- and gluten-free foods are best, especially if your dog has skin or gastro-intestinal issues.
Finally, there are special diets for specific health issues. See ‘Additional Resources on Food’ for more information.