How to Choose the Best Pet Food for Your New Friend

Bulldog Turning Nose Up At Pet Food

Getting a new pet is an exciting and even a little mysterious experience. Whether you’re getting a dog or a cat, a pedigree or a shelter rescue, one of the most important decisions you can make right now is what to feed your new lovable fur-ball. Each pet has unique needs when it comes to food; whether they need a high-energy, high-calorie diet or a practical low-cal diet for a more chill lifestyle.

You may be tempted to pick up the cheapest bulk-sized bag of pet food at your local grocery store, and that could even be the right choice. But first, take a few minutes to double-check whether that bulk-sized bag has the right formula, ingredients, and trustworthiness to really keep your pet bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. We’ve put together everything you need to choose the right food for your new pet.

Formulated for Age and Breed

The first thing you want to determine is the right food for the age and breed of your pet. Pet food by age is pretty easy to match up; most pet foods have their intended age group right there on the front of the package. If your pet is still in their baby form, a puppy or kitten, they will need more calories and a higher percentage of fats to power their furry future growth. Nursing mothers also need extra calories, though few people adopt a nursing mother as their first pet.

Larger and more energetic breeds tend to need more calories and protein-packed foods. More sedate breeds and older pets will need lower-calorie food; they often do better when blends include vegetables.

Short Ingredient List

Next, take a look at the ingredient list on the back or side of the bag. Whatever it says on the front, the ingredient list will tell you what’s really in those kibbles and bits. Skip any food that has a dozen different ingredients you don’t recognize. Modern pet-owners have discovered that short lists of readable ingredients tend to be loads healthier than foods packed with food-like chemical components.

Then take a look at the order of those ingredients. If the first listed ingredient is a meat or meat-meal, you’re in good shape. That means there is more meat than anything else in the mixture. Eggs and vegetables are a good sign. Corn and grains are OK, but tend to be calorie filler.

Trustworthy Pet Food Brands and Reviews

In the past, imported pet foods and lower-quality brands have been known to include things that are downright poison for pets. It’s best to stick with US brands that you recognize and that experienced pet owners trust. Do your online research before making a decision about which brand of pet food to buy. It doesn’t matter what is cheapest or comes in the biggest bag. It’s an unfortunate necessity, but now one of the most important steps to keep your new pet safe from harmful unmonitored ingredients.

Start by prioritizing brands that are solely based in the US. Imported pet food has been the primary source of poisoning concerns. Next, do your homework. Read up on the ingredients, pet-owner reviews, and recent recalls. Recalls are a bad sign, happy pet-owners are a good sign. You don’t have to invest in the most expensive pet food to be sure that your pet will be safe with every single bag of food you buy in the future.

Check With Your Vet

If you have adopted a stray, a rare breed, or a pet that has a health condition then you’ll want to check with your vet before investing a giant bag of pet food. You can take care of these questions when you bring your pet in for their first-time vet visit for vaccination shots and a full check-up. It’s important to remember that pets sometimes have dietary restrictions just like people. Your pet might have some specific meal requirements that you can easily take care of just by knowing about them. You might have a breed of pet that needs more protein, more veggies, or has a grain allergy that could influence which pet food you buy.

If you’re adopting an elderly pet, it’s especially important to visit the vet before shopping for food. Or take the advice of the pet’s previous owner if they already know about special dietary needs.

Don’t worry, it’s not actually that hard to feed a pet with dietary requirements; there are thousands of other pet owners who have made sure the right food is on that store shelf. Worst-case scenario: you’ll have to pop into a PetCo for a special formula. But most first-time pets are healthy, happy, and don’t have any special allergies.

AAFCO Approval

Finally, just to be on the safe side, check that bag of pet food for the AAFCO approval rating. AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. This is the organization that makes sure pet feed from farm animals to house cats is safe and up to a high safety and nutritional quality. AAFCO-approved feeds are in the same price-range as non-approved feeds; but you can trust that they’ve been tested here in the states and that animal feed experts have put their stamp of approval for being safe and healthy for your new pet.


When you’re preparing to welcome a new pet into your home, possibly for the very first time, picking the right pet food can have a huge influence on your shared future happiness. Make sure to get a formula that is properly designed for their age, size, breed, and energy level so your pet can stay trim and energetic for years of loving companionship. Younger pets of healthy mixed breeds likely don’t need anything more than safe, healthy foods with short ingredient lists. Specialty breeds and older pets are more likely to need more attention paid to what you feed them.

For more helpful tips and guides on how to prepare for your new pet, contact us today! We are here to provide all the advice a first-time pet owner needs; plus vaccinations and check-ups to help you start pet ownership on the right foot.

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Abigail Lee
Abigail Lee
posted 2 months ago

We absolutely LOVE Tipp City Vet! All of the staff are professional and friendly, always happy to see us and my girl, Ollie! I have been bringing Ollie here for care for about 2 years and always had a wonderful experience. They are thorough and make sure you feel at ease about your pet.
About two months ago, we started bringing my girl here for doggy daycare once or twice a week and she loves it! She has a chance to get all her Aussie energy out while I'm at work. She's always so happy when I pick her up!!
My family has also utilized their lodging services several times. You can board your pets separately or together. They offer extra play sessions, bathing, etc. And if you're still worried about your pet, you can text their lodging phone number and they will send you pictures of your pet! Great for nervous Dog Moms like me!
Can't say enough good things!

Amy Walker
Amy Walker
posted 2 months ago

Anytime we go out of town we keep one of our dogs at the boarding portion of the hospital. She LOVES it. After a couple of stays she has realized how much she loves this place and no longer tries to pull us out the door when we arrive (this in my book is a good sign)! She’s always exhausted when we pick her up, so that reassures me that they take the time to play with her and that she doesn’t have any built up energy she needs to release once home as attention was not given. The staff is amazing and take great care of the animals. Also very reasonable pricing on boarding for what they offer!

Andrea Arnett
Andrea Arnett
posted 6 days ago

Dr. Harrington and the rest of the staff were very welcoming to my cat Annie. I brought Annie in on an emergency call and all of the staff was very friendly and helpful . Dr. Harrington constantly let me know what was going on with my cats care. Thank you all very much !

Laurie Johnson
Laurie Johnson
posted 2 weeks ago

Lizzie has been going to this vet since she was born. We love how they care for her, Most of all she loves to go to day care. The honest valuation is great!

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