How to Choose the Right Dog Food for Your Dog

dog eating food

When it comes to food, dogs may have a reputation for being one of least fussy household pets. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that they should eat virtually anything that is put in front of them.

As a responsible pet owner, you undoubtedly want to ensure that your canine companion is getting the vitamins and nutrition that he needs to live a long, healthy and happy life with you. But with more pet foods to choose from than ever before, and marketing jargon and labels becoming more confusing, how can you be certain that you are choosing the right food for your dog?

Breed-specific Pet Food

Not only do different breeds of dog vary in shape and size, they also have been known to develop breed-specific health problems. For example, large breeds such as the Golden Retriever are at risk of joint disease, if they have a diet that is too high in calcium or calories. Meanwhile, active breeds such as Siberian Huskies may need a higher fat content to give them the energy that they need.

The key benefit of breed-specific pet food is that it is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your breed of dog. Although it is certainly not essential to give breed-specific pet food, it can be a more convenient way of getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients in your pet, especially if you are trying to prevent common health problems in the breed.

Food Intolerances

Many people don’t realise that food intolerances are just as common in dogs as they are in humans. This is largely because they can be more difficult to diagnose, usually requiring veterinary intervention to pinpoint the cause. However, some common symptoms of food intolerances include persistent scratching - particularly of the abdomen or anus, red and inflamed skin, and vomiting or diarrhea.

Most food intolerances in dogs are attributed to sources of protein, dairy or wheat. However, once you find the cause of your dog’s intolerance, you must be certain to find food that is completely free from the allergen if you are to keep your dog comfortable, healthy and happy.

Wet Vs. Dry Dog Food

Whether to pick wet or dry food is a common confusion in many pet owners. Dry kibble is created by mixing and cooking the ingredients that are listed on the label, which are normally a combination of meat and grain. Dry kibble tends to be a popular choice as it doesn’t require refrigeration so is easy to store, plus it is widely available and the most inexpensive type of dog food.

Wet food tends to contain higher amounts of fresh meat, fish, poultry and animal-by products in addition to grains. Available in cans, it has a long shelf-life until it is opened, after which it will require refrigeration and consumption within three days. Many pet owners dislike the odor of opened wet food, and choose to have a separate refrigerator for their dog’s meals. Wet/canned food is marginally more expensive than dry kibble.

Read the Dog Food Labels

Labels on pet food are more complicated than ever before. However, there are certain things that you should look out for that indicate a high-quality product.

Labels list ingredients based on weight. As a dog’s diet should be primarily carnivorous, you should ensure you choose food with a label that states a meat product in the top spot on the label.

Keep an eye out for labels that list corn or soy as ingredients. Corn is a common cause of food intolerances in dogs, and soy is a cheap filler used to bulk out pet food that has absolutely zero nutritional value. In fact, soy has been known to play havoc with a dog’s delicate endocrine system, which could make your pooch feel very poorly.

Individually-tailored Pet Food

Did you know that you can have your dog’s food specifically tailored to his individual nutritional requirements? Several different manufacturers are now offering this option. Ideal for pets who may have very specific dietary needs due to intolerances or illness, individually-tailored pet food also comes with an unsurprising price premium, meaning that it is not a viable choice for many.

Choosing the right dog food for your best four-legged pal is often simply a case of trial and error. However, if you are still concerned about the food you are choosing, or you are struggling to find the right food for your dog, we recommend you seek professional advice. Visit your veterinarian for specific advice.