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Feeding your Australian Cattle dog high quality, healthy food extends their active years as a herding dog. Think of it this way: Feeding your blue heeler cheap, low-quality food is equivalent to feeding them greasy chips and fizzy sugary drinks. These foods have little to no nutritional value, and in the long run, they impact the overall health of the dog. The best dog food for an Australian cattle dog should contain lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and vegetables as well.
On our list below, we found the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula to be the overall best option. That is because it features highly digestible ingredients, a canine-friendly blend of probiotics, and comes from trusted sources. But we have more options to choose from so you can find the best food suited for your dog.
Here is a closer look at the best dog food for an Australian Cattle dog, and we will also look at what to look for when choosing the right food.
Related post: Top 6 Best Toys for Australian Cattle Dogs 2020
Best Dog Food for Australian Cattle Dog in 2020
Best Overall – Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula
The protein in the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula is tasty roasted buffalo, venison, and bison meat. The best part is that the animals producing the meat are all pasture-raised in humane conditions and with the best food and access to veterinarian services. This lean protein is excellent for building and repairing muscles required for the dog to sustain their active lifestyle.
Also infused in the food is the brand’s proprietary K9 strain probiotics, which promote your heeler’s gut health and digestion. Gut health is crucial in this breed because they require proper digestion of their food to keep up their energy levels for their work.
Every pound of this food has 80 million active, live culture to aid the digestive and immune systems. In addition to probiotics, the food also features prebiotics fiber derived from the chicory root in the recipe. The prebiotics creates a healthy environment for the probiotics to thrive.
Vegetables and fruits are also part of the recipe, and they provide the dog with vitamins and minerals, including zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. The food includes blueberries, raspberries, peas, legumes, and tomatoes. It also features sweet potatoes which are complex carbohydrates that burn slowly releasing energy to sustain the dog until the next meal.
Finally, your dog will also get some Omega-3 and Omega-6 which help with keeping the skin healthy and the coat lustrous. The grain-free formula ensures that your dog doesn’t risk allergic reactions to some of the grains typically used in most dog foods.
Best Premium Protein Option – Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral Diet Formula
Red meat is essential for blue heelers because of their active daily lives. With the Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral Diet your Australian cattle dog gets six different red types of meat in each meal. The regionally sourced meats include deboned lamb, venison, goat, wild boar, and bison. The food also features pork meal. Cattle dogs thrive on high animal protein ingredients, and each of the meat sources has been ranch/farm-raised or caught in the wild where they feed on nature’s organic ingredients. The specific meats have been chosen because they are safe for dogs with sensitivity.
Each 20-pound bag contains nearly 17 pounds of meat products. Although the food is dry kibble, it is coated with raw meat flavor to make it even more delicious for your dog. The recipe also features vegetables and legumes to provide fiber, probiotics to support digestion, and antioxidants for a strengthened immune system.
All ingredients found in the recipes come from the local farmers and are regionally available, ensuring that the high quality of the food is sustainable. You can expect some carrots, peas, potatoes, lentils, squash, and sweet potatoes in the food. Also, do not be surprised to get the aroma of sage and parsley in there. These herbs are used to spice up the food. The formulation of the recipe follows the canines’ ancestral diet.
Best Budget Option – Purina One Smartblend True Instinct Natural Adult Dog Food
Purina One High Protein Dog Food is not only affordable, but it also contains real beef and salmon. Beef makes up the primary protein to aid in building and maintaining the muscles of the dog. There are no fillers in this dog food so, you do not have to worry about artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors that can trigger allergies in your dog. However, the formula has added vitamins and minerals to provide overall nutrition and health to the dog.
It features no poultry by-products guaranteeing that the food will not have unsavory poultry body parts like claws, beaks, and offal. This food comes in dry and wet form. The dry kibble has tender morsels of meat mixed with the rest of the dry ingredients. The wet food either comes with tender meat cuts inside gravy or as a classic ground formula.
Ingredients used are highly digestible. The wild-caught salmon provides adequate levels of omega-3 to keep your dog’s coat shiny and the skin healthy. It also contains pork lungs, which are an excellent ingredient in dog food providing healthy proteins, calories, and vitamins. Overall the formula has well-balanced quantities of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Best for Fresh Food – Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
Since an active dog needs very high-quality protein, consider freshly prepared food like the Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food. This is one of the best freshly prepared dog food subscription services. The main protein ingredient is real meat, which can be beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, depending on the recipe. There are four recipes to choose from. Additional ingredients include russet potatoes for carbohydrates, carrots and peas for vegetables, and vitamins B2, B12, B1, and E.
Being a subscription service means that you receive your furry friend’s food right at your doorstep. All you have to do is fill in the relevant forms with the right information about your dog’s needs and choose the best recipe from the choices provided. The good news is that you can customize the recipe to meet your dog’s specific needs, especially when it comes to the number of calories required.
This dog food is formulated by a board-certified veterinarian, Dr. Justin Shmalberg, to the strict guidelines of AFFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) and, of course, his expertise with dog nutrition. Each recipe helps to prevent chronic disease while providing the best constitution of nutrients for such an active dog. Nom Nom Dog food features human-grade ingredients, and that always guarantees your dog the best ingredients with each meal.
Best for Puppies – Blue Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Puppy Dog Food
The puppy stage of life is generally very energetic and active in anticipation of the herding lifestyle ahead. That is why Blue Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy Food is an excellent option providing the best protein needed to build strong muscles and carbohydrates to sustain their energy levels. It doesn’t contain any by-products or fillers, which are cheap and not nutritious. All the food components in the formula are useful for the physical and brain development of puppies.
The formula has the input of veterinarians and animal nutritionists who emphasized the use of vegetables and real meat as the main ingredients. It also has a generous amount of fatty acids to help with brain development, which is crucial for this highly intelligent breed. Peas, cranberries, and blueberries provide fiber, while sweet potatoes provide complex, slow-burning carbohydrates that keep the dog fuller and energetic for longer.
This recipe is grain-free, eliminating ingredients that can cause allergies in dogs. The brand’s LifeSource Bits infuses in the formula provides a balanced mix of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. With every meal, your puppy will be enjoying real deboned chicken, fresh produce, turkey, and chicken meal.
Best for Senior Dogs – Nutro Ultra Senior Dog Food
NUTRO Ultra Senior Dog Food offers your dog three primary meat proteins, which are lamb, chicken, and salmon, with the poultry featuring prominently. In addition to the high-quality protein, it also features 12 superfoods that help your heeler to stay healthy and vibrant as they age. These include chia seeds, kale, spinach, egg, coconut, flaxseeds, blueberries, carrots, apples, sunflower oil, tomatoes, and pumpkin.
This formula also has chicken meal, which provides your senior dog with glucosamine and chondroitin. These components promote joint health that deteriorates in aging dogs, especially those that have led a very active lifestyle like Australian cattle dogs. Glucosamine and chondroitin help alleviate arthritis and other joint inflammations.
The salmon provides much-needed fish oil content that also helps with different inflammations in the joints. Fish oil also boosts the immune system promoting its ability to beat infections that become more prevalent with age. This formula contains non-GMO ingredients. With this dog food, your senior blue heeler is going to remain relatively active and mentally sharp even as they grow older. It is ideal for dogs over the age of eight years.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Dog Food for Australian Cattle Dogs
The healthy formula should consist of well-balanced proportions of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, and vitamins. Protein should be the primary ingredient in dog food, and it is best if they are animal proteins like beef, venison, bison, chicken, or turkey. Adult dogs need a minimum of 18% protein in their food, while lactating mothers and puppies require a minimum of 22% protein for healthy growth.
Look for 5-8% fat content, respectively, depending on the age of the dog. Also, consider whole foods, fresh produce, and real meats instead of foods with by-products, too much meal, and processed ingredients. Sweet potatoes, squash, and other whole carbohydrates offer more energy for longer. Peas, legumes, and vegetables like kale and spinach provide vitamins and minerals as do.
Food Shelf Life
Dry kibble is popular because it has a longer shelf life than wet food. Dry dog food is typically into dry bits known as kibble, which the dog can eat without having to reconstitute using water. Dry recipes can be eaten by the dog for weeks after the package is opened, as long as the bag is stored properly.
However, consume wet foods within a day of opening the can. Wet food formulas have little to no preservatives so, they get invaded with bacteria within a short time. Also, because the ingredients are wet means they can be very messy to store once opened.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and starchy carbohydrates are highly digestible for dogs. Ingredients that are hard to digest can cause the dog to become bloated and uncomfortable, making them inactive. They can also cause gas or runny stool.
A formula with a long list of ingredients may contain the hard to digest foods. So opt for dog foods with a short ingredients list and make sure that you can identify the components. This fast rule cuts across from puppy food to adult and senior foods.
Only choose a dog food formula that has an AAFCO statement of nutritional quality. This statement certifies that the recipe meets the minimum nutrition requirements of your dog. It is recognized internationally and means that the food has undergone standard testing to ensure it is safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I feed my heeler dog?
How much you feed a blue heeler depends on whether the dog is a pet or a working dog. A working cattle dog is hard at work for most of their day and as such, they burn more calories. They need to replenish these calories so, 150% to 250% calorific intake is healthy and sufficient. The good news is that because of their level of activity, they are not at risk of becoming overweight or bloating.
Australian Cattle dogs need about 100% calorific intake because they are sedentary for most of the day. Remember that although this breed is generally active, they don’t have a higher metabolism than other dogs of the same weight and build.
Blue Heeler puppies also need a high-calorie intake ranging from 150% to 200% to help them with the growth bursts they are experiencing. So pups should be fed more often in their first year of life. Senior dogs, on the other hand, have slower metabolisms so, 30 calories per kilogram are sufficient. Apart from puppies in their first year of life, all the other dogs should be fed only twice a day to keep them at a healthy weight.
However, there is a general overall rule when feeding any Australian cattle dog: at least 30% protein and less than 30% carbohydrates. So choose a dog food that offers this ratio in each serving.
What are the common health problems that can be solved with diet?
Herding breeds like the Australian Cattle dog are bred for work, but they face fewer regularly occurring health challenges because of their active nature. But they can have three main health conditions that commonly afflict them.
- Arthritis – an inflammation of the joints due to damaged or distorted cartilage
- Elbow dysplasia – lameness in the front limbs because the elbow joints don’t fit properly due to weight or activity levels
- Poor eyesight – inability to see properly because of age
Elbow dysplasia and arthritis are both joint-related conditions characterized by episodes of inflammation. Eating food with glucosamine and chondroitin helps reduces inflammation, promoting healthy joints. Sweet potatoes and carrots in the food provide beta-carotene that helps with the eyesight of the dog, slowing the loss of sight with age. However, you have to make sure that the dog is eating foods with these ingredients from a young age.
The good news is that even these three medical conditions are not prevalent in this breed as with other purebred dogs. Their active lifestyle allows them to live to a ripe old age while remaining fit and healthy. But you must schedule visits to the vet for regular checkups and provide a well-balanced diet to keep them in optimal health as they grow older. However, in case your dog has a genetic problem, a dietary solution may not work, but your vet will advise accordingly.
What foods should you keep away from Australian Cattle dogs?
The best food for heeler dogs contains vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, and protein. But some specific foods may be harmful to your cattle dog. To begin with, do not feed your blue human food. For example, chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains theobromine, a harmful substance to canines. Even grapes, nuts, and raisins are dangerous to dogs.
Some vegetables like garlic, onion, and chives damage the red blood cells in the dog’s body leading to anemia. These vegetables are predominant in human food. The best vegetables to feed this breed include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green beans, peas, spinach, and kale.
Dogs love bones but always exercise caution when giving your heeler cooked bones. They can splinter in the dog’s mouth, causing damage to the teeth and gums. Also, eating bones frequently can lead to intestinal blockage.
Foods that feature artificial ingredients and cheap fillers can cause allergic reactions in your dog. So ensure that you are feeding your dog food that is as close to their natural diet as possible. Cheap dog foods for blue heelers are typically made with cheap fillers like low quality, inexpensive grains, unnamed by-products, artificial flavors, preservatives, and coloring. Also, avoid foods like wheat, corn, and soy, which can cause food allergies.
The good news is that the Australian cattle dog is a robust breed that is less prone to food-related allergies. However, to be on the safe side, it is best to stay away from the above foods.
What are the important facts to know about Australian cattle dogs?
A healthy cattle dog can live up to 16 years. They have a sturdy and hard muscular body that can withstand the elements and the rigors of active life for longer than other breeds. That is why they excel at moving cattle, chasing down strays in the herd, and even hunting.
A female heeler will give birth to about five puppies in each litter. They are born with a white coat that turns blue or grayish as they grow older. They also get white patterned spots, black patches around the eyes, and brownish markings around the legs and chest.
The males grow to weigh between 35 and 50 pounds and reach a height of 18-20 inches, while the females can weigh up to 45 pounds with a height of 17-19 inches. They have a double coat and small triangular ears that are always alert.
These dogs have speed, agility, and focus. So do not be surprised to find them hyper-focused on their target when herding or when chasing down a stray. They are also very protective of their herd and their families, including you. You will find them very sociable and obedient as well as highly intelligent. If you are keeping a cattle dog as a pet, it is best to carve out adequate time for play, exercise, and walks. They need these exercises to remain happy and healthy, otherwise, they become bored and destructive.
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Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API