Selecting the right Dog Food
Visit any big-box pet store today and you will see rows and rows of dog food. Even the smaller stores offer dozens of brands with many additional options depending on a variety of lifestyle factors.
You of course want to select the food that is best for your dog, but with so many options, it can be difficult to make a decision. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the right food for your dog:
Age: You should consider your dog’s age when selecting food. The texture and ingredient requirements for your dog will change with their age-related needs. For example, a puppy has endless energy and needs to grow and put on weight. A high-calorie dog food will most likely be the right choice at that age. You can often find foods formulated specifically for a puppy’s needs, and it will usually state that on the bag.
However, an elderly dog will have different concerns and needs. As dogs age, their joints may start to ache. In this case, you might want to select a dog food option that includes vitamins that are good for joint health, like glucosamine. Some brands have products geared towards senior dogs, or a special joint formula if that is their main concern.
Weight: Another concern that starts to arise with age is weight gain. As your dog becomes less active, weight management can sometimes become an issue. A special weight management formula of dog food can be a good choice. These lower-calorie options will help keep your dog feeling full, but will help prevent them from packing on the pounds, or help them to lose weight if they’ve already gained some.
Some dogs might have trouble gaining weight, either due to health issues or even due to prior neglect. For example, if you are adopting a dog that is malnourished, you will want to make sure that you are feeding them a nutrient-rich food that is high in calories until they get back on their feet.
Size: Dogs of different sizes typically have different needs. A smaller dog like a chihuahua will most likely have different health concerns than a Great Dane. In this case, dog food brands will often have size-specific formulations. A large breed might be more prone to joint problems, so the formula for them will cater to those needs, whereas a smaller breed like a chihuahua will probably have a higher metabolism and could be prone to hypoglycemia, so they will need a food high in calories.
The shape and size of the food itself varies as well and it is an important factor to consider when selecting a dog food. You want to be sure the size of each kibble is well-suited to your dog. Smaller dogs will need smaller kibbles. A larger dog might choke if the kibble is too small, so you’d want to be sure their kibble is larger. While your dog will most likely not mind eating kibble no matter the size, it doesn’t mean it is safe for them. One size does not fit all when it comes to kibble.
Texture: When selecting a dog food, it’s important to consider which type of texture will be best for your dog. A lot of dogs have a preference when it comes to the texture of their food. Some dogs prefer one type over the other. The two typical options for pet food texture are wet or dry. Both offer distinct pros and cons, and a lot of the decision will simply come down to your dog’s preference.
Dry dog food is a good option for most dogs. It is the most affordable and is more shelf-stable so you can purchase it in large quantities and it won’t quickly go bad. It generally has the most variety, and can offer all of the nutrients a healthy dog needs.
On the other end of the spectrum, wet dog food is great for dogs with health concerns or elderly dogs with dental issues. This formulation is softer, so it’s good for dogs who are missing teeth or have tooth pain. If you have a picky eater on your hands, they may also prefer the wet variety of food to the dry version because it offers a higher fat content than most dry foods. The ingredients in wet dog food are usually of higher quality than dry as well.
Ingredients: Speaking of ingredients, you should always do the research on what is in your dog’s food. Reading food labels is something many people have become hyper vigilant about for themselves, but something they might not be doing when it comes to selecting a food for their dog. Always be sure to check the label and do your research when choosing a dog food, but keep in mind that what is right for you might not be right for your dog.
Recently, many pet food brands came under scrutiny when it was learned that the grain-free foods being marketed to dogs might not be as healthy as originally thought. Just because a food or diet is healthy for humans does not mean it is healthy for dogs, and this is a prime example.
Depending on your dog’s breed, size, and age, they need a certain percentage of fat, protein, and carbohydrates in their food, and the percentages needed will vary. When selecting a food, make sure it meets the criteria for your specific dog.
Make sure your dog’s food is also low in sugar, sodium, and processed ingredients like dyes. Before you head to the store or place an order online, take note of the ingredients you should always try to avoid when selecting a dog food, and make sure they aren’t present in the food you choose to buy. Look for whole ingredients and do your due diligence to check for any adverse side effects found in dogs eating that brand in the past. Cheaper is not always better when it comes to our dog’s food.
Following the criteria above should give you a head start on your next trip to the pet store and help you to make the decision that is best for your one-of-a-kind furry friend.