In a perfect world, all dog food would be equal. However, today dog owners are presented with an overwhelming array of options when it comes to dog food, all claiming to be the best. It seems everybody has a different idea about what’s best to feed their dogs and why, and most information is contradictory.
Wading through this deluge of information to zero down on dog food that is healthy, affordable, and appealing to your pet is daunting. But we have some advice to help you narrow down your options.
What constitutes good dog food?
Most of us feed dogs processed kibble or wet food. While they are not highly appealing, they do contain all the essential nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy. Plus, most quality commercial foods have undergone rigorous testing by veterinary specialists.
Dogs are not strictly carnivorous. While meat does make up a majority of their diet, domestic dogs can also derive their nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables. Plus, they are a valuable source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
A good dog food, hence, should contain meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits of the highest quality.
But do remember, the nutritional needs of a puppy are different from an adult dog, which is why it is a good idea to feed a puppy formula or an “all life stages” food to your young dog. If you are unsure about the differences in nutritional requirements between puppies and adults, check this Merck Veterinary Manual.
Check your information source
Follow one simple rule – check your sources. When you do your research about dog food, check to see if the information is supported by a credible source, like a veterinarian, nutritionist, or scientific study. As with any pet-related inquiry, always discuss your concerns about your dog’s food with your veterinarian.
Learn how to read a dog food label
One of the many ways to determine a good dog food from bad is to read the label. Lables can be hard to read, though due to the small print, and also because some labels can be misleading. But make sure it has these eight key pieces of information:
- Product name
- Net weight of the product
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Guaranteed analysis
- List of ingredients
- Intended animal species
- Statement of nutritional adequacy
- Feeding guidelines
All this might seem like another information overload, but the good news is that dogs are actually quite flexible eaters. So remember to base their diets around a complete and balanced pet food, and they’ll be fit and fine.