How to select the best dog food
Much like humans, dogs rely on high-quality sources of nutrition to live healthy lives. Since most people feed their dog the same kibble, day in and day out, it’s even more important to ensure that the one you choose has all the nutrients your dog needs.
Keep your dog healthy with quality food
Much like humans, dogs rely on high quality sources of nutrition to live healthy lives. Since most people feed their dog the same kibble day in and day out, it’s even more important to ensure that the one you choose has all the nutrients your dog needs.
Selecting a good quality pet food is similar to selecting the foods you eat. High-quality ingredients, a variety of ingredients and as few additives and preservatives as possible, are among the things you should look for when you scan pet food labels.
Pets are subject to diseases like diabetes, cancer and obesity, much like their human counterparts. Since they don’t get to pick what they eat, it’s your job as a pet owner to make sure they are eating well and staying healthy so you can avoid serious illnesses all together.
What’s in it?
Of course ingredients matter when choosing dog food and the quality of the particular ingredients in any dog food matters even more. A high-quality protein should be the first ingredient on any dog food. Avoid food that lists corn, grain or other fillers as the first ingredient. Dogs require a diet high in protein and their digestive tracts often can’t handle large amounts of grain and corn. In the wild, dogs eat raw meat, not corn, so keep that in mind when selecting a food. In addition, any “by-product meals” like chicken by-product meal are basically ground up scraps and bones, much like the human equivalent of a hot dog. Meal products should be avoided, or at least kept to a minimum. A version of whole protein, like salmon or turkey breast is ideal.
The first 10 ingredients generally make up 80-percent of the food. Those 10 ingredients should hit on the majority of your dog’s needs for protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Ingredients listed toward the end are often present in very small quantities. Whole grains, like rice or barley, are much better for your dog and more easily digested than products like corn, gluten and processed grain products. Preservatives and addivitves should be avoided, as they can cause allergies and other health problems. Plus, they offer no nutritional benefits.
Wet vs. dry
There is often debate over which version is better with arguments on both sides contributing to the pros and cons of each. Wet food is often less processed and contains fewer preservatives because the canning method itself serves as a preserving method. In addition, it contains more moisture, which helps to hydrate your dog and is thought to be easier on the kidneys. However, wet food is generally more costly than dry food.
Raw dog food diets are a big trend as of late. Essentially, they involve owners preparing meals for their pets with human-grade food, just like they would do for any member of the family. Some companies now offer freeze-dried food packs that include high-quality products, like beef hearts and liver, that are fed to the dog in the raw state. Preparing your dog's food at home can be costly and time consuming. Ensuring your dog is getting all the nutrients they need can also be tricky unless the diet you are feeding them is varied significantly each day.
Most dog food bags contain a recommended serving size, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is how much your dog should eat. Serving sizes are based on averages and may not apply to your dog, depending on their activity level, other treats they get, or just their metabolism in general. If your dog is particularly active, he may require more food, but if your dog gets little to no activity, he should probably eat less than the standard serving size.
Switch things up
Switching your dog’s food every few months can help ensure that any deficiencies in one food are met by another food. You can switch between wet and dry food, between wet food brands or dry food brands, or even feed a little of each every day. Just remember that dogs can have sensitivities when you switch foods, so monitor them closely and consider mixing a little new food with old food, gradually working up to a complete switch to make the transition easier. You can also consider supplementing your dog’s foods with vitamins, flax seed oil, nutrient-dense treats or raw food from your own kitchen.
For more information on the dog food you buy or to look for other high-quality dog food brands, visit DogFoodAdvisor.com. They provide ingredients, reviews and other information to help you determine the best food for you and your dog’s needs.
Our favorite brands
Wellness CORE grain-free recipes are filled with high-quality nutrition and free of grains, which can be irritating to many dog's digestive systems. It includes Omega-3 fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and skin, and it is packed with all the protein your dog needs. It is available at some large pet supply stores, small holistic pet stores and online.
Blue Buffalo dog food lists protein as the main ingredient and includes several other healthy nutrients from vegetables to pro-biotics. It is available at most pet supply stores and reasonably priced, making it an easy favorite. The site also provides detailed information on dog food and nutrition and allows you to compare other common brands with their line of foods.
Halo pet food might sound familiar, as it is co-owned by Ellen Degeneres. It's all-natural, includes no rendered meats and is proud of the fact that it has never been recalled. In addition to being a high-quality dog food, Halo is a philanthropic company that gives back to animal related charities and animal related causes to help all animals live long, healthy and happy lives.