A Step-by-Step Guide on Choosing the Best Dog Food for Your Pooch
As a pet owner browses through the pet food aisle of a grocery or pet store, the task of choosing the best dog food can feel daunting. The shelves are lined with hundreds of options, ranging dramatically in price and ingredients. According to all of the packaging, each dog food brand claims to be the best in terms of nutrition, making it extremely difficult to decide on one.
The most important thing to remember is that every canine is different, meaning each dog has different needs when it comes to diet. Knowing about your dog’s health needs is the first step, but what happens after that. This step-by-step guide on choosing the best dog food for your furry friend can help.
Step 1: Think about your dog’s age, breed, weight, and activity level
Considering a dog’s physical characteristics is the first step. It makes sense that a Great Dane will not benefit from the same dog food as a Dachshund, so consider the breed first. Along with breed comes weight; typically there are three weight categories separated into small, medium, and large. On the packaging of any dog food, you should be able to find specific weight recommendations. It might also just say something like “Best for Small Dogs”.
After breed and weight, age is an important consideration. A puppy will need a dog food that helps with development, whereas an older dog will benefit from a food that specializes more in repair. Activity level has a lot to do with age, since a 15-year-old Cocker Spaniel is unlikely to experience the same bursts of energy as a 1-year-old Golden Retriever.
Step 2: Read dog food labels (and understand proteins)
Now that you have a general idea of your dog’s kibble needs (like puppy vs dog, large breed vs small breed), it’s time to read some labels. Just as you might read the label of a salad dressing or pizza crust, you should be reading dog food labels as well. This can seem difficult at first since dog food ingredients are nothing like human food ingredients.
Your best bet is to have a solid understanding on the different types of proteins found in dog foods. Protein is a must in a canine’s diet, but even if a dog food package claims to deliver on protein, it is your job as a pet owner to dig deeper than that. Choose dog foods containing high quality proteins, rather than cheap plant-based ones that contain no nutritional value.
Step 3: Decide on whether grain-free is the right choice
There has been a lot of controversy on grain free diets in dogs these days. Some pet owners claim to have bad experiences with it, but it all depends on the specific grain free ingredients. In other words, some grain free foods will do wonders for your pooch, just try to avoid ones with extremely high levels of legumes, like peas and lentils. Your grain free dog food should also contain a healthy amount of high-quality protein from animal products.