When it comes to feeding our families, we read labels, buy organic, and research the latest trends in nutrition. But are you as particular when it comes to purchasing dog food?

Unfortunately, trying to find a quality dog food that’s also budget-friendly is where most dog owners become frustrated. Not all dog food is created equal, and the price is not a deciding factor in quality, either.

Careless dietary choices in animals can have the same effect as they do in humans: obesity, cancer, digestive issues, heart disease, diabetes, exposure to toxins, and overall poor health. Not to mention, if you feed your dog from the table, the chances of poor health increase drastically.

How do I choose the right dog food?

Finding the right dog food may require a little research. A quick phone call or appointment with your veterinarian will give you a better understanding of the specific needs of your dog.

As you research, keep in mind these basic guidelines for quality dog food.

1. Consider your dog’s age, activity, breed, and reproductive status.

Different breeds, ages, and physical characteristics are all important factors when considering dog food. Puppies and their mothers require a different diet than senior dogs. Just like more active humans require more nutrition than those who are sedentary. The type and amount of food will help your dog avoid health issues like diabetes or obesity.

In some cases, foods are distinguished by breed, but most are labeled as small breed formulas or large breed formulas. The main difference between them is the kibble size as it’s important for all breeds to eat comfortably and safely.

2. Understand the packaging.

Would you believe that the actual wording on the package is a code for how much of one protein is found in the food?

The best way to understand the labels is to compare them to a restaurant order. The more that is included in the label, the less protein the food contains.

For example, most commercial pet foods use the 25% rule because it is less expensive to manufacture. These foods commonly include words like “dinner” and “entrée”, such as “Fido’s Beef Dinner”.

Other examples include “Fluffy’s Delicious Dinner with Chicken” or “Beef Flavored Dog Food.” These are required to be made up of only 3% of the named ingredient. Food labeled as “Chicken Dog Food” requires the protein source to consist of 95% of the named ingredient.

There are thousands of choices for protein and meal combinations, which should be decided on by you and your veterinarian. Too much protein or too little protein can cause health issues in your dog.

3. Learn to Read the Ingredients

In contrast, along with understanding the make-up of the food, knowing what ingredients to actually avoid is just as important.

Ingredients to avoid:

  • Corn and wheat gluten
  • Meat and grain meals and by-products
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE)
  • PG (Propylene Glycol)
  • Rendered fat

Focus on labels that have few preservatives and list a protein-rich, meat-based diet. Dogs are omnivores and therefore rarely benefit from a strictly vegetarian diet.

If you have questions about what dog food is best for you and your pup, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.