Dog Food 101: How To Choose Your Dog Food

When you are trying to choose the right kind of dog food for your dog, it can be a difficult decision. There are literally hundreds of brands to choose from on the market. You also have the option of physical stores and online companies when you’re trying to decide on the right product.

The right diet is one of the first things you will want to do to keep your dog healthy and happy. However, veterinarians, groomers, breeders, and dog owners often disagree about the best food for dogs. Asking an expert can leave you just as confused as you started out to be. This is because there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” answer when it comes to the best dog food out there.

Good thing you don’t have to research your options on your own. There are websites like The Pampered Pup who already made a rundown and guide on choosing the most beloved pup products for your dog today. This way, you’ll make an informed decision about what is best for your dog’s diet. Let’s take a look at some of the other factors that will help you further.

What Choices Are Out There?

There are a number of choices you’ll consider when you’re researching dog food. They typically fall under the following categories:

  • Generic brands
    • Premium brands
    • Natural or holistic diets
    • Raw food diets
    • Whole food cooked diets
    • Vet-prescribed diets

When you purchase dog food from your local retail or pet food store, you’ll have the choice of wet and dry food. When you decide which one you want, research different food companies to learn more about what they put into their brand. Your vet will also give you some advice on what brands to stay away from. Check to see if any of the brands have recalled a particular option before you purchase it. If you find that one brand has had numerous recalls, it is a good idea to stay away from it.

You may decide to forgo commercial dog food brands altogether and make your own at home. If this is a choice you’re considering, remember that it takes a lot of time, research, and commitment. Making dog food from scratch requires a lot of preparation and care in order for it to be balanced for the needs of your dog. Again, your vet can help you understand exactly what you need to make your own dog food if you go this route.

Check the Label

The dog food you choose should always be made with high-quality ingredients. The label of a brand will have the phrase “complete and balanced” on it when it is a quality choice. The FDA uses this exact phrase to regulate dog food nutrient profiles. Take a look at AAFCO, or The Association of American Feed Control Officials, to learn more about dog food nutrition. This company can give you an idea of what should and shouldn’t be in your pet’s dog food. The brand should exceed the guidelines of the AAFCO in order to be superior dog food. You should also check the adequacy statement, located along with the nutritional information.

Read the Ingredients

You always want dog food that lists meat as their first ingredient. Remember, your dog is an omnivore. There are only a couple of extreme circumstances that would require them to need a vegetarian diet, such as bad allergies. The meat in your dog’s food can include the tissue from the esophagus, heart, diaphragm, and other parts of an animal as well as skeletal muscle. A “meat by-product” contains the non-rendered part of an animal without the meat, including blood, bone, kidneys, and lungs. There should be no hooves, hair, teeth, or hair in the product you pick.

You may also see the phrase “meat meal” in the product. This refers to a product that is rendered from animal tissues.

Choose Dog Food Based on Your Pet

Different breeds will often require different types of dog food, and the age of your dog can play a role in what type you need as well. If you have a puppy or a pregnant mother, they will need dog food that is higher in calories. A senior dog will require a food lower in calories. Dogs that are more active will also need dog food that has more calories while a more sedentary dog will need fewer calories a day. Again, your vet can help you decide how many calories per day your dog really needs.

Make Sure They Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Whether or not you choose commercial or homemade dog food, your pup needs to have omega-3 fatty acids in its diet. You may need to add an omega-3 supplement if your dog eats commercial dog food. They need this supplement for a number of reasons. These include the following:

  • Omega-3 can improve their energy levels
    • Omega-3 gives them a healthy coat
    • Omega-3 improves their joint health
    • Omega-3 can act as an anti-inflammatory, great for dogs with arthritis
    • Omega-3 may improve the cognitive functioning of senior dogs

Deciding on Grain-Free Dog Food

If you think your dog may have a food allergy, take them to your vet. Grains are fine for dogs to eat unless they suffer from a severe allergy. The most common grains found in dog food are corn, wheat, rice, soy, barley, oats, and rye. Whole grains can provide your pet with a lot of nutritional resources, such as Vitamin B, magnesium, iron, and carbohydrates. However, you may need to switch them to grain-free dog food if they are allergic to the meat in their dog food.

Ask Around

Once you have narrowed your selection down as much as possible, you might want to talk with others about their opinions and thoughts. This is especially helpful if you want opinions on a specific breed. Besides your vet, you can talk to breeders and groomers to hear their recommendations and thoughts. Remember, even professionals are not going to agree on the best type of dog food. Take what you hear and consider it during your own research. What is best for one dog won’t necessarily be best for yours.

After You Decide on a Brand

Your dog may not like the brand you buy, so be prepared to try a few varieties before settling on one certain type. If you are changing from one brand to another, it is important to do so gradually. Add a little more of the new food to the old brand every day for a few days until you can make the switch completely. If your dog begins to act ill after making the change, talk to your vet. You might have to switch up their diet again.

Changing Up Dog Food

A lot of pet experts believe that you should rotate the brand of food every few months if you decide to use commercial dog food. Your dog, just like humans, can get bored eating the same thing for months at a time. If you choose to make your own dog food, it is extremely important that they get a complete and balanced diet. Every dog has individual needs, so take this into consideration when you change things up. And as always, talk to your vet if you have any questions. It is also essential to invest in affordable pet insurance, like Bivvy, to ensure your pet stays healthy without unexpected vet costs hurting your wallet!