We all want what’s best for our canine best friends. It can be difficult to find the best dog food among the myriad of brands that are available everywhere you look. You can’t trust prices, because the most expensive brands aren’t necessarily the best, and the cheapest isn’t always the worst for your dog.
So how do you figure out what will work best for your furry friend?
Start when your buddy is a baby. The right nutrition in the first year of their life is extremely important for a puppy’s growth and development. Finding the right dog food for puppies can seem like a big task, but at least there are special puppy formulas in almost every brand with additional nutrients and vitamins that puppies need to grow.
One main difference between puppy and adult dog food is that puppy food has a much higher protein content. Look for puppy foods that are at least 30% protein, and contain 10-20% fat, depending on your dogs’ size and breed. One way to judge the value and quality of your puppy food is to make sure the first ingredient listed on the label is protein-rich meat, such as salmon, chicken, duck, or others.
In addition to the nutritional benefit, puppy food also has smaller pieces, which are easier for your little buddy to chew, swallow, and digest!
Your dog should have the best-balanced food for his adult needs, too. Some breeds are prone to bone issues, allergies, or weight problems and you should talk to your vet about special diets or supplemental needs if that is the case. Adult dogs should be fed twice per day, and require the carbohydrates, fat, and protein to maintain their energy and repair their body tissue.
The most common adult dog food is dry kibble. It has the nutrients your dog needs, it’s relatively inexpensive, and you can find it everywhere. Canned, also known as wet, dog food is another great option. Make sure you’re still checking ingredients, but many picky dogs will happily eat wet food, and wet food tends to have more protein than dry.
You can also make dog food at home. This option will definitely allow you to know exactly what you’re feeding your pet but can be more expensive and definitely more time consuming than buying food at the pet store. There are a lot of recipes online if you’re interested in looking into this option!
Fillers, By-Products, & More
Some commercial dog foods can have ingredients like meat “by-product,” which means a part of an animal not intended for human consumption. Though that may sound bad, according to PetMD, “in many cases, by-products are high in nutritional value and are not an issue.”
You may also have heard about fillers. In cat food, fillers such as corn may be bad for them. In dog food, the right fillers in the right amounts, like corn or chicken meal, can have the carbohydrates and fats your pet needs.
Unless your dog has an iron stomach and no digestive response to different foods, the prevailing method for transitioning between dog foods is to change over gradually, over a period of 5-7 days. Start with 80% old food and 20% new, mixing a little more new into every meal until it is 100% new food.
If you are switching foods suddenly due to a health issue, you can make the transition as easy as possible by checking labels and finding a very similar formula of food. Also consider feeding your dog smaller meals more often, so that you can monitor if they eat it and if they have any stomach issues. If you do need to switch food suddenly, make sure your veterinarian is aware and has checked over your pet for any health issues they may have.
When it comes to picking your dog’s food, you should start when he is a puppy. Make sure to get high-protein puppy-specific food, then transitioning to an adult dog food at 8-12 months, when their nutritional needs change depending on their size.
As they grow, continue looking for real ingredients and always check with your veterinarian to discuss any specific needs your dog might have. Always watch out for your dog’s energy levels and if their appetite changes. There are a lot of options, but having this information will help you make the right decision for you and your four-legged bestie.
Featured photo credit: Winsker via pixabay.com