You want your dog to live a long, healthy life. And, you know that picking out that right dog food can help ensure that happens.
However, there are thousands of different dry dog food options out there, so how are you supposed to know which one is right for your pooch?
Picking out the right dry dog food doesn’t have to be complicated.
Check out this guide to learn how to pick out the right food for your pooch.
First things first, you need to look at the actual ingredients.
Don’t let marketing buzzwords like “organic” and “whole-grain” on the front-packaging fool you into thinking you’re buying the best stuff for your dog. The ingredients list is where you’ll get the full story, so be sure to check it out before buying.
But, what exactly should you be looking for when reading the ingredients?
For starters, it’s important to know that ingredients are listed by weight. Therefore, ingredients that contain a lot of moisture, such as poultry, beef, and chicken, are usually listed near the top. Ingredients listed further on may contain even more key nutrients, but because they weigh less, they’re listed toward the bottom.
While the exact nutrients your dog needs will depend on a number of different factors, in general, you want to choose a dog food that contains meat for protein, grains, vitamin-packed fruits and veggies, and some type of omega-3 for a shiny coat.
The best dog foods will contain high-quality versions of these ingredients that are also appropriate for your dog’s digestive system.
2. Understand the Lingo
When reading dry dog food labels, it’s important that you understand what everything means.
Here’s what you need to know:
- If a dog food says it contains a single ingredient, it must contain 95 percent of that ingredient
- If a phrase like entree, dinner, or plate is used, then it must contain at least 25 percent of that ingredient (for example, “beef dinner”)
- If the dog food says it’s made “with” something, then it only needs to contain 3 percent of the ingredient that it’s made “with” (for example, “made with cheese”)
- If a product advertises specific flavors, then it only needs to contain a detectable amount of that flavor
- “Meat by-product” can refer to non-rendered parts of the animal, such as the kidneys, lungs, brains, bones, or blood
Also, you should make sure that the first grain ingredient on the list isn’t corn. This is because corn has a very low nutritional value and low amounts of protein. While it isn’t bad for your dog, it’s better to pick a dog food that has higher amounts of other grains and veggies.
3. Consider Age
When choosing a dry dog food, it’s also very important to consider the age of your dog.
This is because dogs have different nutritional needs at different points in their lives, just like humans do.
Luckily, dog food companies formulate their foods for the different stages of a dog’s life. So, if you have a puppy, look for a dog food that says “formulated for puppies”, on the label.
For those who don’t know, your dog is considered a puppy if they’re one year old or younger, an adult if they’re one to eight years old, and a senior if they’re older than eight years.
4. Consider Size
In addition to age, you’ll also want to consider your dog’s size.
Some dogs do better when they’re consuming dog food that’s specifically formulated for their size. Typically, larger or giant dog breeds do best consuming a dog food that’s made with glucosamine. This is an ingredient that helps to support healthy joints.
Small dog breeds, on the other hand, often find it easier to dig into food that’s made with bite-sized kibbles.
5. Consider Activity Level
Just like humans, dogs also have different dietary needs based on their activity levels.
If your dog works or competes, then it may be a good idea to feed them dog food that is extremely nutrient-dense.
Also, if your dog is lactating, they may also require a higher amount of calories per day, so they may also fare better with a nutrient-dense dog food brand.
On the other hand, if your dog just goes for the occasional walk and spends most of the day lying around, then you may want to consider buying dog food that is formulated for weight management.
You should talk to your veterinarian to see whether or not your dog is at a healthy weight.
6. Watch Out for the Myths
There are many myths out there surrounding dog food that are not at all backed by science.
For example, many people think that they should be buying grain-free dog food, simply because they read it somewhere on the internet.
However, unless your dog has been diagnosed with a grain-allergy, they shouldn’t avoid grains, as grains are actually a source of wholesome nutrients for your dog.
Another area of confusion is with animal by-products. For whatever reason, many people hear the term “animal by-product” and automatically assume that they’re feeding their dog something that’s loaded with chemicals and harming their bodies.
However, animal-byproducts, if they’re made from quality ingredients, can actually be quite nutritious for your dog. Typically, animal-byproducts contain entrails and organ meats, which actually contain more nutrients than muscle meat.
But, it’s important to note that regulated byproducts should not contain hair, hooves, manure, or intestinal contents.
If you’re ever confused about an ingredient in your dog’s food, the best thing to do is to speak to your veterinarian.
Are You Ready to Buy the Best Dry Dog Food for Your Pooch?
With these tips in mind, it’ll be much easier to buy the best dry dog food for your pooch.
Just remember, if you’re unsure about the dog food that you’re buying, ask your vet for some help.
And, if you liked this blog post, be sure to check back in for more pet-related tips and tricks.