All dogs are different. They come in different shapes, sizes, breeds and with varying energy levels. Dog food is as different and varied as dog breeds. Our pups are beloved members of the family, and we want to feed them that way. There are so many things to take into consideration when selecting dog food, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Age, breed and activity status
It’s important to consider your dog’s physical characteristics, behavior and age when choosing an appropriate dog food. Puppies require more calories a day than senior pets. Also, active breeds require a higher daily caloric intake than breeds likely to hang out on the couch during the day. Finding the right type of food and the correct amount will help your dog avoid health issues associated with obesity.
Reading the label
Most of us read the labels before we buy our own food. When we read labels, we’re looking to see what the first three to five ingredients are. We want as many natural ingredients as possible a minimal amount of preservatives or processed ingredients. Searching for dog food shouldn’t be any different. Dog food labels are required to tell you eight pieces of information:
- 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
Look for brands that offer high-quality ingredients. Premium dog food often contains meat, vegetables, fruit and omega fatty acids. Just like with human food, the fewer ingredients, the more natural the food.
As with human food, every word on dog food packaging is important and indicates the quality of the food inside. This is especially true of language used to describe proteins in the food. For example, words like “beef for dogs” and “chicken for dogs” are clear indicators of the base protein and, in fact, labels that use this phrasing indicate that the food contains at least 95 percent of the specified protein. On the other hand, phrases that contain ‘filler’ words such as “dinner” or “meal” — as in Chicken Stew Dinner — indicate that the food is made with a minimal amount of the listed protein. At a minimum, the food formula is required to contain at least 25 percent of that particular ingredient.
Does your dog have health issues? Do they have allergies? Or do certain types of dog foods irritate their stomach? Those are some questions to consider when selecting a dog food. If your dog has allergies, sensitivities or weight problems, a special diet may be best. There are also dog foods that specifically target dental problems and specific conditions.
We all want the best for our dogs, especially when it comes to their health. As with shopping for our own food, it’s important to check the labels and understand what we’re feeding our pups.