When it comes to selecting the best dog food for their pet, dog owners are faced with an overwhelming array of options. Here, our Everett veterinarians share some tips on how to choose the right dog food for your pup.
Best Foods to Feed Your Dogs
The majority of dog owners feed their pets dry kibble or canned wet food. Commercial dog foods of high quality are strictly regulated and have undergone rigorous testing by veterinary specialists. The healthiest, vet-recommended dog foods will include meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits. These non-meat foods are not just fillers; they can also be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Nutritional Needs of Dogs
Your dog's nutritional needs should be met by most dog foods. Most commercial brands are specially formulated to meet at least the basic nutritional needs of dogs. Not every dog, however, has the same nutritional requirements. Keep this in mind when shopping for dog food.
Dogs need a variety of nutrients in varying amounts throughout their lives. Because a puppy's nutritional needs, for example, differ from those of an adult dog, it is best to feed a puppy formula or an "all life stages" food.
Reading Dog Food Labels
Reading the label is one way to tell the difference between good and bad dog food. The FDA requires dog food labels to include eight key pieces of information and individual states may have their labeling requirements:
- Product name
- Net weight of the product
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Guaranteed Analysis
- List of ingredients
- Intended animal species (i.e. dog or cat)
- Statement of nutritional adequacy
- Feeding guidelines
The name of the product tells you a lot about what's inside the can or bag. The term "beef" implies that beef must account for at least 70% of the total product. In contrast, the terms "beef dinner," "beef entrée," or "beef platter" only require that beef account for at least 10% of the total product. "With beef" only requires that 3% of the total product be beef, and "beef flavor" simply means that the product contains enough beef to flavor it (less than 3 percent). The same can be said for other named ingredients, such as "chicken."
A dog food label's ingredient list does not indicate the quality of the ingredients. Some manufacturers divide the ingredients to achieve a more even distribution. Corn varieties, such as flaked corn and ground corn, can be listed separately. Because whole meats contain a high percentage of water weight, the overall percentage of meat after processing is lower than appears. Meat meal, on the other hand, sounds less appealing to people but contains more meat than "whole meats".
While the ingredient list does not provide information about the quality of the ingredients, it does provide information about what is in the food. This is especially important for dogs who have special dietary needs or allergies, and it is also useful for owners who want to feed their dogs specific fiber, protein, and carbohydrate sources.
Dog Food for Small & Large Breed Dogs
Small and large breed dogs have different nutritional requirements. Because large-breed dogs are more prone to musculoskeletal issues, they frequently require large-breed dog food. Small breed dogs can choke on large kibble and have unique nutritional needs. Investigate your dog's breed to see if there are any special nutritional requirements you should be aware of.
Dog Food for Puppies
Dogs' nutritional requirements change throughout their lives. Puppies have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs and senior dogs have unique nutritional requirements. Most dog food companies sell puppy foods that are specially formulated for each stage of a dog's life. Consult your veterinarian to determine what stage food is best for your dog.
The best food for your puppy is determined by its size and breed. Some puppies do well on both "puppy food" and "for all life stages" food. For puppy feeding advice, always consult your veterinarian.
Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Senior dogs, usually those aged 7 and up, have different nutritional requirements. Many older dogs prefer wet food, while others may require their food to be warmed to enhance the aromas. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best dog food for an elderly pet.
Dog Food for Dogs With Special Dietary Needs
Allergies, sensitive stomachs, and dietary restrictions affect both dogs and humans. It can be difficult to feed dogs who have special dietary requirements. Your best bet is to seek advice from your veterinarian on the best dog food to help with their condition.
Wet & Dry Dog Food
Ingredients such as meat and grains are combined and cooked to make dry dog food. The main advantage of dry dog food is that it does not need to be refrigerated. The best dry food for your dog is determined by his or her dietary requirements. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist about the healthiest option for your pet.
Wet dog food is an excellent substitute for dry dog food. Wet food has more fresh meat, poultry, fish, and animal byproducts, as well as more textured proteins derived from grains. Although canned dog food has a long shelf life, it must be refrigerated once opened. The best-wet food for your dog is determined by its age, breed, and any special dietary needs or allergies.