Whether you’ve recently adopted a Bulldog or are thinking of getting one to be your guard and companion, you need to know what your dog will need from you. Besides your company, love, and attention, he will need to be fed right. But worry not; if you’re wondering what the best diet for Bulldogs is, you’re in the right place.
The best diet for Bulldogs is high in natural proteins and free of extra fillers such as soy, wheat, and corn. It must also have enough fat and carbs (healthy grains, veg, and fruit) to cover its daily macro nutrition requirements and be around 500 calories per serving for less active adult Bulldogs.
Bulldogs are prone to weight gain, being somewhat of a sedentary breed. They are also susceptible to food allergies or intolerance, sensitive stomachs, and gas! Simply put, feeding your Bulldog the best diet can be challenging.
In this article, you will learn more about the best diet for Bulldogs and nutrition requirements, including the types of food they can eat, what to keep in mind when picking dog food, and what to avoid when feeding your dog. I’ll also tell you how much food to provide, and how often you should feed a Bulldog puppy, plus loads more…
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And, if you want to know the best diet for Bulldogs, you’ll love this all-new guide. There’s a lot to this topic so let’s get started!
- What Nutrients Do Bulldogs Need?
- Are Bulldogs Carnivores?
- What Foods Can Bulldogs Eat?
- What Foods Can Bulldogs Not Eat?
- What Kind of Food Should I Feed My English Bulldog?
What Nutrients Do Bulldogs Need?
The nutritional requirements of Bulldogs are a minimum of 22% protein during growth stages and 18% protein for adult dogs. Puppies need 8% fat, and adults require 5% fat to meet their energy requirements. Carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water are also required for survival.
English Bulldogs need a lot of protein compared to some other breeds. And if you have previously or currently have a different breed (especially a smaller one), you might be accustomed to a completely different type of diet.
Small dogs are energetic, and that’s why they require more carbs. But Bulldogs, by comparison, have higher muscle mass and need enough protein to maintain it. Of course, this also is enhanced by genetics, so you don’t need to put your Bulldog on a Dwayne Johnson gym diet to ensure he maintains his muscle mass!
Still, you cannot starve him of his nutritional requirements, particularly essential proteins, while expecting genetics to do all the heavy lifting (no pun intended). As a rule of thumb, ensuring your Bulldog consumes 1 gram of protein for every lb of bodyweight will ensure he’s consuming sufficient amounts to sustain his lean mass.
English Bulldogs are considered 5th most muscular dogs, ranking well above Bandogs, Huskies, and German Shepherds. However, since Bulldogs are not as active as their leaner canine brethren, they do not need as many carbs.
Carbohydrates, still, are essential to a Bulldog’s diet, and you need to make sure these are clean carbs. Unfortunately, most food allergies that Bulldogs have are often associated with carb-rich sources, which is a shame as novices can end up harming their dogs simply by trying to feed them.
Make sure that your Bulldog eats food with carbs sourced from whole grains. It helps to have vitamin and mineral additions, but these wouldn’t be considered as crucial as proteins, carbs, or fats.
You must make sure your Bulldog gets the bulk of his fat consumption in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Meat, poultry, and fish all have significant fatty acids though these can be isolated and injected into commercial dog food.
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Are Bulldogs Carnivores?
As mentioned above, Bulldogs need protein-rich food with enough carbs and fatty acids. At a glance, these requirements are fulfilled by meat, fish, and poultry, which makes one wonder whether Bulldogs are obligate meat-eaters.
Bulldogs are not strict carnivores but omnivores. Although meat-based diets are better suited for their digestive system and nutrition requirements, they are adaptive to various foods, textures, and forms. Even though Bulldogs prefer animal protein, they can survive on a vegetarian diet.
While Bulldogs can get their protein requirements from plant sources, turning your English Bulldog vegan is highly impractical and risky.
If you’re a vegetarian, this might not sit right with you, leaving you with a few options. You can purchase dog food manufactured from free-range meat like farm-raised cattle. This keeps you from partaking in the industrial farming cruelty that broilers and industrial cattle have to endure.
You can also decide that it is not your place to interfere with your Bulldog’s meat requirements as long as you are not personally consuming meat. This is the most practical and gives you the broadest choice.
Alternatively, you might take it upon yourself to find vegan Bulldog food with the appropriate amount of vegan protein alongside the correct ratio of carbs, healthy fats, and vitamins.
For an omnivore species, there’s always the option of going total carnivore or herbivore. But since English Bulldogs are only omnivorous in a supplementary context (they can eat veggies in addition to meat, but not as a replacement), taking them down the herbivore route is impossible without factory-made food that relies on isolating macros like protein, carbs, and fats, and readjusting ratios to mimic meat.
The subject was recently explored in a Washington Post article where some promise was shown for dogs’ omnivorous nature. Erik Axelsson, an Uppsala University Geneticist, was cited as saying, “dogs digest starch more efficiently than wolves.”
This should be considered alongside a quote from Cailin Heinz, a Vet nutritionist at Tufts University. “There are some Amino Acids (found in meat) that are essential for dogs, that are not so for people,” says Heinz.
Synthesizing the two leads us to conclude that Bulldogs can thrive on an omnivorous diet but would be unhealthy if taken down the vegan path without a vet nutritionist overlooking the transition.
Taking your dog down the middle road is the best for your pocket and saves you a lot of time.
By buying specific food manufactured for Bulldogs, you can automatically ensure that the protein requirements alongside other macros are well cared for. Additionally, such food is made at scale, bringing you the advantage of less expense.
So whether you’re doing it to save time or money, it is much more convenient to overlook one’s desire to turn their Bulldog into a carnivore (practical but expensive) or vegan (time-consuming, expensive, but possible) diet.
What Foods Can Bulldogs Eat?
Now that you know what nutrients your dog needs to remain fit and healthy, you have to contend with the fact that Bulldogs’ stomachs are extremely sensitive. You can deal with this by making a list of foods they can’t eat or going the simpler path of learning precisely what you can feed your Bulldog. So what foods can Bulldogs eat?
Bulldogs can eat meat and fish such as pork, beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, tuna, cod, etc. They can also eat fruits and veggies like carrots, pumpkin, apples, berries, and healthy grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, and eggs. Some dairy, e.g., cheese and yogurt, can be fed in moderation.
There is also a range of “human food” that Bulldogs can eat, such as organic peanut butter (no xylitol) or a small serving of bread. During the early years of dog domestication, we mustn’t forget that dogs survived alongside humans by living off leftovers, including scraps of meat, potatoes, and bread.
IMPORTANT POINTS WHEN FEEDING YOUR BULLDOG!
- If a fruit contains pits or seeds, these must be removed as they are toxic in large amounts. They are also a choking hazard and can cause intestinal blockage.
- Most vegetables should be cooked first to help with digestion.
- It’s best not to feed raw eggs or raw fish due to the risk of salmonella or listeria.
- Some Bulldogs are lactose intolerant and can not eat dairy foods.
- Although Bulldogs can eat some nuts such as cashews or almonds (macadamia and walnuts are toxic), they are not advised due to their high-fat content, which can also cause an upset stomach.
Please note that “can eat” doesn’t mean “should eat!” The definition of food items your Bulldog can eat is simply safe food and hopefully without causing an adverse reaction. This is by no means an indication of standard nutrition recommendations.
However, it helps you manage how you handle your best friend’s puppy eyes when he’s hoping to get a bite or two during dinner. If the food you’re having belongs to the list above, feel free to let him have a bite or two.
If you’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you may not be free to give him jelly, but peanut butter and bread are fine. So you can add a little bit of peanut butter on a bite of bread and serve him. Do not go overboard and make an entire sandwich for your Bulldog!
Moderation is key. A good rule of thumb is that treats must make up no more than 10% of your English Bulldog’s diet. Anything he has is in addition to his meals means you must help him walk it off! Here are the main foods that are safe for your Bulldog to eat.
What Foods Can Bulldogs Eat?
|Celery & Corn||Kiwi Fruit|
|Peas||Peach & Plum|
Read more: The Ultimate List of Human Foods Your Bulldog Can Eat
One of the key things to remember when feeding human food to your canine companion is that he can’t handle condiments as you do. So, even though meat is on the menu, you cannot share a bite if your dinner is garlic-heavy or sauteed with onions. In fact, any heavily spiced food is bad for your dog, which leads me nicely on to the next section…
What Foods Can Bulldogs Not Eat?
Many foods are toxic to your Bulldog, and it’s crucial to know what these are, as some of the worst offenders, like grapes, can result in kidney failure and death just by consuming a minimal amount. So what foods can Bulldogs not eat?
Bulldogs cannot eat chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, xylitol (sweetener), ethanol, and unbaked yeast dough, as all of these are toxic. They should also not eat high-sugar products, or spicy food and avoid foods they may be sensitive to, such as soy or dairy.
In general, poisoning episodes in dogs result from a lack of knowledge of the risk these household foods pose to dogs. Here is a handy table of the main foods toxic to Bulldogs.
Foods Bulldogs Can Not Eat Due To Their Toxicity…
|Moldy Food||Cocoa||Macadamia Nuts|
|Xylitol (sweetener)||Yeast Dough||Walnuts (Black)|
|Tomato (green)||Raw Potato||Shallots|
If you are excessively empathetic towards your dog and have a tough time saying “no” to puppy eyes, you might turn around your own diet and only eat from a tiny pool of food options for humans that translate well to the canine stomach. However, this is extremely impractical and requires more discipline than simply saying no to your dog.
The easiest way to offset your desire to treat your dog for being a good boy is to have low-calorie dog treats on the dinner table like Tricky Trainers Chewy Low-Calorie Dog Training Treats from Amazon. That way, you won’t have to share whatever you’re eating, shielding your dog from harmful foods in the process. I like these treats as they are ideal for Bulldogs, being only 3 calories each.
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What Kind of Food Should I Feed My English Bulldog?
There are many different types of foods you can feed your dog, such as dry, wet, raw, or home-produced, to name but a few. However, some breeds are better suited to certain types than others. For example, in general, toy breeds are more suited to wet food, whereas giant breeds are more suited to dry foods. So what kind of food should you feed your English Bulldog?
English Bulldogs should be fed a mix of dry and wet food. As a brachycephalic breed having shorter noses and flat faces, their short muzzle makes it harder to pick up food, and chewing and swallowing can be difficult. Choose a small kibble with a unique shape and add wet food that is more palatable.
However, you may have different ideas, but when choosing dog food, you should always check the food’s list of ingredients and nutritional content. Dog food must be complete and balanced and meet nutrient profiles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
High-quality proteins (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, fish, etc.) should be high on the list, as should quality sources of fats as these meet all your dog’s nutritional requirements. The best dog foods will also include additional protein sources, such as eggs and plant-based proteins like vegetables, legumes, and grains.
Let’s look at the popular kinds of dog foods, which should help you decide on the type to feed your Bulldog…
Many companies manufacture quality dry food for dogs, and such products usually contain essential nutrients. Dry food is the best option if you prefer easy storage convenience as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated once opened. It’s also easy to transport, and you can take dry food with you on walks and trips away.
Dry food is also the least expensive and is usually the first choice for medium to large breeds. It’s good for your dog’s teeth, and many owners often add warm water or broth to soften it and increase the aroma and change the texture.
Check Out This Video to Learn What’s in Kibble…
If you opt for kibble, ensure you choose a top brand that uses high-quality ingredients without added fillers.
There is also a healthier alternative to kibble called cold-pressed dog food, and it’s what I feed my dog. Cold-pressed foods are cooked at a much lower temperature (and quicker) than extruded kibble, which allows them to retain more nutrients per bite. It’s trendy in the UK and Europe and becoming more widespread in the US and other regions.
If you’re in the UK or Europe, go for Guru Pet Food, as this family-run business offers a range of cold-pressed foods and healthy treats. My dog has been fed Guru since a young pup and still thrives on it to this day.
Canned Wet Food
Canned wet food is different from kibble in that it contains a lot more moisture, takes less chewing, and is generally more appetizing. Your dog is more likely to accept wet food than dry treats.
Adaptability alone can make many turn to canned wet food, though it is messier because of its water content. It’s also a lot more expensive, especially if you have a large breed.
As stated above, your Bulldog will be suited to a mix of both dry and wet, and this is exactly what I do. I feed my dog a diet of quality cold-pressed dog food and add some wet food on top. Occasionally I’ll add leftover chicken, beef, or salmon to mix things up for her.
Related: Why Won’t My Bulldog Eat: The Top 11 Reasons!
If you don’t want the messiness of wet food, but your dog refuses kibble, you can go with a semi-moist food option. Remember that this will be more expensive in terms of energy per lb because about 65% of the food is water. You must also be cautious and pick a variety that doesn’t contain too much salt and sugar, which are used as a preservative and a flavoring agent, respectively, but aren’t ideal for Bulldogs.
Home Produced Diet
Home-produced diets can save you money but cost more in time. If you’re retired, a stay-at-home parent, or work from home, or preparing food for your dog is semi-therapeutic to you, it makes sense to make two weeks’ worth of Bulldog chow twice every month. This gives you more control over the macros and can put your mind at ease regarding processing and chemicals in factory-made food.
Learn How to Make Homemade Nutritious and Balanced Dog Food…
If you choose to prepare a home-cooked diet, you should consult your vet or a certified pet nutritionist who has the expertise to customize a healthy diet for your Bulldog. The above video only shows you how to make one meal, and you will want to vary the meals you give.
Alternatively, you might not find cooking therapeutic but want to control macro nutrition by feeding a raw diet. Like homemade diets formulating raw diets can be difficult, especially if your English Bulldog is pregnant or sick and has different nutritional requirements. Again it is recommended to consult a pet nutritionist.
When feeding your Bulldog a raw food diet, you should also make sure you are fully aware of the safe and proper handling of raw foods and associated food safety issues. You can also buy commercial raw dog food products. These range from complete frozen foods to grain and supplement mixes combined with raw.
At first glance, dehydrated food might look like dry kibble, but the manufacturing process is different. Dehydrated food is cured raw dog food, so it has a longer lifespan. It is cooked at a slight temperature, and moisture is removed using different dehydration techniques. It’s a good choice for Bulldogs with sensitive stomachs as the food is easier on the digestive system due to the gentle cooking process.
When preparing dehydrated dog food, you simply add warm water. It is similar in texture to canned wet food but much less processed. If you’re looking to retain the nutritional value of a raw diet while having hassle-free storage options, dehydrated might be the best diet for you and your Bulldog.
The difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated dog food is, for the most part, cosmetic. In other words, both types of food contain similar ingredients but use different processes to get rid of moisture/water content. Freeze-drying involves cooking by cooling food so rapidly that moisture in it turns to ice.
The machine removes said moisture making the end product a brittle, biteable, solid. It doesn’t need to be rehydrated and, again, is a great alternative to raw, but it can be expensive.
Pros and Cons of Types of Dog Foods
|DRY DOG FOOD||WET FOOD (including semi-moist)|
|More practicable for medium-large breeds||Better suited for toy or small breeds|
|Inexpensive and less waste||Some dogs find wet more appetizing than dry foods|
|Denser-provides more nutrients per bite than wet||Good for fussy eaters and senior dogs|
|Convenient and easy to feed||Good for hydration|
|No need to worry about nutritional deficiencies||No need to worry about nutritional deficiencies|
|Refrigeration not required||Dogs can enjoy a larger portion per meal due to the high water content|
|Good for “grazers” as can be left longer in the bowl||Good for dogs who have trouble chewing|
|Can add “toppings” such as cooked meats, fish, or veg for added variety||Semi-moist may be good for dogs that find foods difficult to digest|
|Add water to make a tasty gravy||Has a longer shelf life than dry, but there can be more waste if the food is uneaten|
|Available in many shapes and sizes to suit your dog||More expensive than dry foods|
|Ideal for interactive feeders and slowing down ‘gulpers’||Be aware of added salt and sugar in semi-moist|
|Kind to the teeth||May contribute to gum disease|
|Poor quality brands often add “fillers” and low-quality ingredients||Poor quality brands often add “fillers” and low-quality ingredients|
|MIX of DRY & WET||HOME PRODUCED|
|Have the best of both dry and wet||Have complete control of your dog’s diet|
|Can mix in the same bowl or at separate feeds||Good for picky eaters|
|Provides variety||Can help with bonding|
|Recommended to keep to the same brand||Can help with a medical diagnosis or healing|
|Need to track calorie intake||Expensive and time-consuming|
|May require the advice of a pet nutritionist||Need to ensure correct nutrition is fed, so regular health checks are advised|
|RAW||DEHYDRATED & FREEZE-DRIED|
|You control your dog’s food and nutrients||Most of the moisture is removed|
|Need to ensure correct nutrition is given||More natural as no preservatives are added|
|May be unsuitable for senior or sick dogs||Nutrients remain intact|
|Risk of food contamination||Freeze-dried is fundamentally raw|
|No proven health benefits except for improved digestion||Long shelf life and easy to store|
|Expensive and time-consuming if preparing at home||Convenient|
|Regular health checks advised||More expensive|
How Much Food Should a Bulldog Eat?
On average, a Bulldog should eat between 1,000 and 1,200 calories a day, depending on weight, activity level, age, and health. An inactive adult Bulldog weighing 50lbs (22.5kg) only needs 1,000 daily calories, whereas an active dog of the same weight will need 1,200 calories.
I would always recommend seeking the advice of your vet if you are ever doubtful about what to feed or how much to feed your Bulldog, but you can always refer to the National Research Council’s science-based guide for your dog’s nutritional needs. So, what about puppies, you may ask. How much food should a Bulldog puppy eat?
On average, a Bulldog puppy needs about twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult Bulldog. Therefore a puppy weighing 25lbs (11kg) needs around 1,200 calories, the same as an active adult twice its weight. Use feeding charts on dog food labels to find the amount of food for your pup’s weight.
For about ten years before the 2000s, dog feeding relied much more on hunches than quantities. Now that nutrition has advanced hand-in-hand with the dog-food industry, we face a double-edged sword.
So what do I mean by this?
On the one hand, we now know more about how much each breed needs, but at the same time, such messages are being controlled by the dog food industry. That’s why it is crucial not to give in to “package instructions” regarding serving sizes. With the 1,000 to 1,200 calorie mark for the average adult Bulldog, here’s the process you should go through to figure out how much you need to feed.
Calculate calories per cup. Some manufacturers mislead about serving sizes to increase repeat orders; they’re legally liable if they misrepresent the calorie count. That’s why you should use nutritional information as your initial barometer.
Figure out how much a cup of dog food weighs and find the number of calories per cup. Some packages have calories listed per cup, making this entire step redundant. The best brands will also have helpful calculators and charts on their websites.
I also found this helpful dog calorie calculator to work out your dog’s daily energy requirements. Just input your dog’s weight and activity level. For example, if your Bulldog weighs 50lbs (22.5kg) and is not very active, the calculator tells me he needs approximately 1000 calories daily.
Calculate cups per serving
It’s better to feed your Bulldog twice per day. So, once you know how many calories are in a cup, you need to figure out how many cups you need to feed your dog for his 500-600 calories. Depending on the food, it could be two cups, three cups, or even half a cup. Whatever this quantity is, you can work out how much to feed your Bulldog in one sitting.
You’ll need to do this every time you switch to a different brand or change the type of food. Another alternative is to consult a vet nutritionist and determine exactly your dog’s calorie needs.
How Often Should I Feed My Bulldog Puppy?
Puppies have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs and require more frequent feedings at different stages of development. So how often should Bulldog puppies be fed?
Bulldog puppies between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks should be fed four meals daily. Puppies between 12 and 24 weeks require three meals a day, and from 24 weeks onwards, Bulldog puppies should be fed twice per day.
|AGE OF PUPPY||MEALS PER DAY|
|6 to 12 weeks||4|
|12 to 24 weeks||3|
|24 weeks onwards||2|
Dogs can sustain themselves on a single meal, provided it meets the calorie needs of the specific breed. But feeding twice a day helps with hunger control which is great for Bulldogs as they’re prone to obesity. Spacing out meals is also important for optimal digestion and prevents the life-threatening condition, bloat (GDV).
Can Bulldogs Eat Bones?
Speaking of metaphorical bones, you might be thinking about Spike, the lovable Bulldog from Tom & Jerry. His fondness for bones is quite iconic and has kept people entertained for over three decades, but do Bulldogs really eat bones?
Bulldogs can eat bones but prefer to chew on them rather than swallow them. Dogs can derive some nutritional value from chewing a bone, such as calcium and phosphorus. For safety’s sake, ensure that the bone isn’t cooked, sharp, or brittle. Bones should be raw and larger than your dog’s muzzle.
Giving your dog a bone should be compared to you and me chewing gum. The comparison doesn’t end because both are chewed and not eaten, as both also present a choking hazard for the one chewing.
If the bone is small enough, your dog might swallow a fragment. Fragments of brittle bones can often break off and scrape the inside of your dog’s throat.
The best way to avoid this is to opt for larger uncooked bones. It might be more convenient to throw him a bone after you’re done with a drumstick, but that’s dangerous. To make it simpler, I have compiled the best practices for giving bones to your Bulldog.
The Don’ts of Giving Your Bulldog a Bone
Don’t give him bird bones
Whether it is a chicken leg or a turkey leg, chances are it is cooked and too small. If you’re deboning a turkey and have a Bulldog puppy, the raw thigh bone or leg bone might be big enough for him to chew on safely. But that situation is likely to be rare!
Don’t give him cooked bones
Even if you have a large enough bone that your Bulldog could never accidentally swallow, you can’t give it to him cooked. Heat weakens the bone and makes it brittle. Bulldog jaws are no joke and can easily break apart cooked bones.
Don’t give him a bone before feeding
When you’re just about to feed your Bulldog, you don’t want him to be already satisfied. He needs to consume the necessary nutrition, and if he gets satisfied by consuming a fraction of the calories while chewing a bone, he will quickly lose mass.
The Do’s of Giving Your Bulldog a Bone
Give raw bones from a butcher
Getting your Bulldog a raw bone is the best way to ensure he can safely chew on it without breaking it apart. Of course, a dog has enough strength to break it if he wants to, but that’s a matter of instinct.
Give him a cattle bone
It doesn’t matter if a bone is raw if it belongs to a pigeon! This is just the flip side of not giving your dog a bird bone. I’m just making sure all other animals, from squirrels to alligators, are off the menu. Stick to beef shank bones, and ensure it’s bigger than your Bulldog’s muzzle.
Use a bone as a hunger suppressant
If your Bulldog is very food motivated and always hungry, you can use a bone as a pacifier. He will chew on it hungrily for a while. Please ensure that you don’t do this too close to feeding time, though.
How Much Water Should a Bulldog Drink?
From dehydrated dog food to freeze-dried options, you’ll notice that a major part of feeding your dog without making a mess involves subtracting water from his consumption. This means you have to be intentional about how much water you provide him to remain hydrated independent of the food he consumes.
A Bulldog needs one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight if he is on a dry food diet and half an ounce per pound if he consumes wet food. They may drink more water if thirsty due to warm weather or have a higher activity level. Puppies and lactating dogs will also drink more.
If your pooch isn’t eager to drink water, you can try switching bowls to ceramic ones as some dogs don’t like to see their reflection or change the bowl’s location. Ensure your Bulldog’s water bowl is always full and that the water is changed every few hours.
Dog water fountains, such as the PetSafe Drinkwell from Amazon, are also a great idea, as they entice your dog to drink. I love this one because it’s the perfect size for Bulldogs, looks good, and even includes carbon filters to keep the water free from odors and bad tastes.
Giving ice cubes, adding warm water to dry food, or making fun playtimes with a hose in warm weather are other ways to keep your Bulldog hydrated. If nothing works and your dog consumes insufficient water, you should contact a vet and discuss the problem.
Final Thoughts – The Importance of Nutrition
Bulldogs are strong, and that strength comes from how they consume food and the quality of their nutrition. To ensure your dog is at his healthiest, feed him an omnivorous diet of 500 to 600 calories per meal (adjust for age/activity) twice a day and ensure that he drinks 0.5 to 1 ounce(s) of water per pound of body weight.
Choose a suitable diet for your Bulldog’s age that fits your lifestyle and beliefs. If you invest in the highest-quality dog food you can afford, your doggo will enjoy a longer and healthier life.
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