What This Article Will Cover:
- Which Factors To Consider Before The Dog Food Purchase
- Pros and Cons of Home Made Dog Food
- Which Ingredients To Look For … And Which Ones To Avoid
- Finding The Best Dog Food For Puppies … Small & Large Breeds
- Finding The Best Dog Food For Adult Dogs … Small & Large Breeds
- Finding The Best Dog Food For Seniors
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What dog food is best? Answering this question depends on a number of factors as you could probably imagine. With so many dog food brands on the market today, choosing the best dog food can be difficult. My goal in this article is to help you with choosing the best dog food. We will cover a number of items pertaining to this question so please read the full article. Let’s get started.
Details To Consider Before Choosing That Dog Food
As mentioned earlier, selecting the best food for your pooch depends on a number of factors. Just like us, our four-legged companions are unique in their dietary needs. In other words, what’s good for Rover may not be for Fido. Consequently, we must consider the needs of our own pet and not what appears to be the most popular. Here are a number of factors that dog owners should consider when selecting the ‘best’ dog food for your pet.
- Dog Size (Puppy, Small, Large)
- Activity Level of Pet (Dogs who have an active lifestyle require a recipe different from the coach potato)
- Health of Dog (Are there any underlying health issues that require a special diet?)
- Cost (Best food based on dog owner’s budget)
- Availability (Is it sold at your local pet store?)
- Reputation of Product (What do other customers have to say about product? Check out reviews)
- Nutritional Value/Quality (Read the ingredient label and become familiar with ingredient quality)
- Veterinarian Suggestion (They can advise dog owners of what and what not to look for regarding ingredients)
Although this list above is not all exclusive, it does give you a solid start in finding a quality dog food. As you can see, your canine will have specific needs that must be acknowledged when beginning your search. Let’s now turn our attention to a few specific types of dog food that may be of interest to you.
Home Made Dog Food
For those dog owners who enjoy preparing meals, home made recipes have become quite popular. Furthermore, these dog owners will proudly suggest that this type of dog food is best. In my opinion, this type of diet comes with pluses and minuses. For your convenience, I have listed a number of these points below:
- Taking the guess work out of what your pet is actually eating. You choose the ingredients.
- Home made dog food may resolve issues such as allergies, obesity and other health concerns. In some cases, veterinarians will suggest home made meals after identifying an ingredient that is causing an allergic reaction.
- Variety of meals. Your canine, with home made meals, doesn’t have to consume the same dog food recipe day after day.
- The absence of unwanted filler or artificial flavoring.
- Freshness – You can be sure that your pet’s diet has not been laying on a shelf for weeks before consumption.
- Knowledge – Not all dog parents are aware of ingredients that are harmful to their pet. Such things as onions, grapes, garlic, dairy products (milk included) are just a few of the ingredients that should be avoided.
- Consultation with a veterinarian and/or animal nutritionist should take place before taking on this type of food choice.
- Cost – I am not implying that the cost of a quality commercial food is not costly, but preparing home made meals for your canine will get costly.
- Nutritional Value – How much nutritional value is being lost in the cooking (preparation) of these recipes.
- Time – Without question, the research and preparation needed to produce these meals will be time consuming.
Ingredients Label … What To Look For
How many of you actually take the time to read the ingredients label? If you were like me, I just walked into my local pet store, found the recipe I wanted, and took it straight to the cashier. Sound familiar? Through my research I soon realized that paying close attention to the ingredient label was critical in finding a quality food.
When it comes to ingredients, it is important that we understand that there is no ‘one recipe fits every dog’ when it comes to dog food. You will soon learn why this is as you keep reading. Like us, dogs are unique and have different nutritional needs depending on such things as age, size, breed and health issues.
The ingredient label, for the most part, will be placed on the back of both the bag and can dog food products. Take the time to become familiar with the ingredients listed on this label. Let’s take a deeper look at what you should be looking for when reading these ingredient labels.
Ingredients … The Good Stuff
The first thing you may notice when finding the label is the amount of ingredients that are actually listed. Quite a lengthy list! I’ve actually written an article that deals with this topic in detail, but let’s make it simple for this article. It is my belief that the first five to six ingredients listed are the ones to pay close attention to.
Below I have listed five ingredients that are ones that I look for when reading these dog food labels. Finding these ingredients listed at the top of the dog food labels, allows me to feel confident in choosing this product. Let’s take a look at these ingredients now:
- Meat – This should be the first ingredient listed on the dog food label. Meat sources like chicken, beef, chicken, fish, etc. provides a healthy source of protein.
- Another source of protein is an ingredient that states ‘meat meal’. It actually describe the source of meat. Examples would include such ingredients listed as Chicken Meal, Lamb Meal, Duck Meal, etc. Notice how each meal actually defines which animal source is being used.
- Carbohydrates and grains – Carbohydrates provide your pooch with a source of energy and a quality source of grains to help with the digestion process. Grains to look for would include barley, oat and rice. With that said, many dog owners prefer serving their pets with a grain-free diet where others believe certain grains are beneficial to the overall health. Check with your veterinarian should you have questions.
- Vegetables and Fruits – Vegetables can provide your with a certain level of minerals/vitamins that are significant to your pet’s overall health. Fruits provide Vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber.
- Fats – Good fats provide your pet with an energy source and helps with digestion. A quality fat to look for include such things as chicken fat and fish oils.
In addition to finding and reading the ingredient label, there is also a bit of information to look for. “The AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy or purpose” also called a “nutrition claim” is a statement that indicates the food is complete and balanced for a particular life stage, such as growth, reproduction, adult maintenance or a combination of these.” This statement can be found on quality products. Be sure to look for it!
For all the healthy and nutritious ingredients we look for in our dog food, there is also a number of ingredients we should avoid. A disclaimer before I go any further. When it comes to grains, there are those including veterinarians and animal nutritionists, who are on both sides of the fence. Some will tell you that grains should be part of a dog’s diet, others will not. From my viewpoint, I feel there are healthy grains (Rice, Barley, etc.) and others to stay away from.
If you are unsure or have questions regarding a grain-free diet, talk with your vet. Okay, with that said, let’s take a look at some ingredients that may be harmful to your pet. Once again, read and pay close attention to the ingredient label. Here we go:
- BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin – Some dog companies will use these chemicals to prolong the shelf life of products. These artificial preservatives should be avoided, put the bag down and go to the next one!
- Meat Meal – Although meat meal will provide some protein value, keep in mind that it may come from diseased and dead animals. Stay away!
- White Flour – A carbohydrate used primarily as a filler, that provides nothing in nutrition.
- Corn Syrup/Corn – Neither of these ingredients will enhance the overall health of your pet. Corn syrup being used to sweeten your dog’s palate and corn as a cheap filler.
- By-products – This nasty ingredient is derived from the internal organs in some animals as beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, etc. Stay away!
Some of these ingredients will be listed towards the bottom of the ingredients label, so make sure to take a look. The list you see above is just a sample of what to look for. If you are unsure about an ingredient, do some further research and/or consult with your local vet.
What Dog Food Is Best For Puppies?
Is there anything more adorable than that sweet puppy? So, what dog food is best for puppies? To answer this, I researched and found a statement that puppy owners should adhere to. According to Dr. Karie Anne Johnson, a mobile veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, “recommends choosing a puppy food that carries the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) seal of approval, which means it has been thoroughly researched and tested for nutritional adequacy.”
In addition to these guidelines listed above, it is important to understand that puppies have unique nutritional or dietary needs. For example, your pup requires more protein than your adult dog may. As you know, puppies grow up quickly and need a specific recipe designed just for them. Joints, bones, muscles, internal organs to name a few are growing rapidly, and require a nutritional well-balanced diet.
There are a number of puppy food brands on the market today that also target specific breed ‘types.’ Recipes designed and formulated for small breeds and the large breeds can be found at your local pet store and online. Here are a few things to keep in mind should you be an owner of a small breed puppy.
- Small-breed puppies will mature much faster than the large breed pup. They will reach their full-size (most) by the 6 to 8 month mark.
- The small-breed pup will require a substantial amount of protein in their diet. This will help them in providing the activity and energy level the small-breed pup requires.
- In addition, small-breed puppies will require a healthy source of phosphorus, calcium, and fat to support overall growth.
The large-breed puppy will grow much faster (genetically) than the small-breed pup. As a result of this, it is imperative that the large-breed pup grow at the appropriate pace. Growing up too quickly may cause skeletal (bone) concerns as the pup reaches adulthood.
The large-breed pup has its own unique characteristics. So what should we concern ourselves with the ownership of a large-breed puppy? Below are a number of items that help to answer this question:
- These pups need to exercise daily. In other words, they need to have the opportunity to burn some calories. Obesity will also play havoc on the skeletal system in the large-breed pup.
- A complete and healthy diet is essential to ensure proper growth rate.
To keep this simple, always follow these guidelines when choosing a dog food for either the small or large breed puppy. That is, puppies should have a complete and balanced diet, consisting of a healthy protein(s) source, carbohydrates, vitamins and fats. Here are a couple of recipes that are formulated for the large breed pup.
Check out this short video that puts all of this into perspective:
What Dog Food Is Best For Small Dogs?
Let’s now take a look at the small breed dog who has reached adulthood. Which dog food is best for these little guys? Once again, there will be a number of factors to consider before making that purchase. With all the dog foods on the market, finding the best dog food for small dogs can be troublesome.
Obviously, the small dog has a much smaller mouth than the larger breeds. As a result of this, dog owners with small dogs should find a quality food that contains smaller kibble. This choice (kibble) will allow your pet to comfortably chew and swallow his meals.
Small-breed pooches will also require a little more calories than the larger dog. They tend to be much more active than the large breeds, and will burn off these calories (metabolism) very quickly. Word of caution here however, don’t overfeed these little guys thinking they have not got their bellies full. This may very well result in unwanted pounds, which may cause a number of health concerns.
As with our puppies as we discussed earlier, the small breed requires a healthy, well-balanced diet. There are a number of quality brands and recipes on the market that I feel good about. Click on the products below and take a look for yourself.
What Dog Food Is Best For Large Dogs?
When I think of the large dog breed (fifty pounds or more), the first thing that comes to mind are the bones and joints. As we discussed earlier, allowing these large breeds to grow in optimal fashion is so important. When these dogs grow too quickly and/or become obese, their skeletal system may be compromised. Finding a healthy recipe that allows these large fellas to avoid this issue is so important.
Recipes aimed at the large-breed group will usually be less calorie dense than small-breed formulas. This is significant as it allows larger dogs to eat more to fill their stomachs. This does not mean that we feed them in excess as it may result in some health issues.
What Dog Food Is Best For Seniors?
Our canines who have reached their ‘Senior” life stage also require a specific type of diet. Just like our senior citizens, dogs who have reached this stage of life, tend to slow down. Their activity level is simply not what it once was. As a result of this, these dogs will require less calories in their diet.
Senior dogs may have various health issues that may include such things as arthritis, joint pain, and obesity. There are recipes on the market that addresses these issues and may help to alleviate these health concerns. Furthermore, senior dog food recipes consist of nutritional profiles that may help with the overall aging process.
Veterinarians as well as pet food nutritionists seem to agree that the following items should be included in these senior recipes. Following these guidelines will go a long way to ensure your old friend is consuming a diet made just for them. Here you go:
Some Helpful Guidelines
- A healthy, well-balanced diet with the AAFCO approval.
- Additional Fiber – Helps with the digestive tract as well as possible constipation.
- Less Calories – Due to less activity, less calories are needed. Metabolism will slow down with age.
- Protein – A healthy source of protein will assist in sustaining and maintaining muscle mass.
- Fat – This ingredient is based on the health of your pet. If your senior dog has a few extra pounds or has reached obesity, less fat is required. On the other hand, if your pet is losing weight or has become too thin, consult your vet. There may be an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed. Your vet may recommend more fat to your dog’s diet.
Here are a couple of recipes that may be of interest to you when deciding on a senior dog food diet:
I certainly hope this article has helped you in some manner, and you now have a better understanding of what to look for in finding a quality food. What dog food is best? As I mentioned earlier, the answer to this question depends on a number of things that we discussed earlier.
Pet owners have now become quite diligent when it comes to choosing a dog food. They have become educated in the various types of dog food and which ingredients are healthy and which ones are not. This is a huge win for our four-legged companions.
In this article, I have given you a number of products that are specifically formulated for the life cycle and breed size. These are products that I have extensively researched and have no problem in recommending. Take a look for yourself and see if it may fit the nutritional needs of your pet.
Thanks for visiting my website, and I hope you have gotten some value from this article.
For those unfamiliar with dog food grain-free recipes, there has and is a controversy taking place as I write this article. The FDA has made public that it has launched an investigation between a possible connection between the grain-free diet and heart disease within dogs. For further information, the American Kennel Club has provided further details. Click here.
The purpose of this site and articles are intended to provide a source of entertainment and information. As a dog owner and dog lover myself, I enjoy researching dog food products on the market to provide you with helpful insights. I am not a veterinarian nor an animal nutritionist, just a dog owner who wants to provide a healthy lifestyle to their pet. I use my research to express an opinion which may or may not be one you agree with.