There are so many options when it comes to dog food these days, from ketogenic dog food such as visionary pet, to raw and home-cooked dog food. This can make things difficult for dog owners who want to look after their pet as well as possible, but are not sure which is the best option for their furry friend.
Here are some top tips for choosing the right food for your dog.
Read the Label
Every dog food product has its own specifications. It is therefore important to thoroughly read the label (or the corresponding information on the online listing) before deciding to buy. The label should give you important information including the type and age of dog it is suitable for, and whether they meet official guidelines.
In the USA, the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) has a set of guidelines for proper food for dog and puppy nutrition: look for their seal of approval on dog food. This is not a guarantee for high-quality, nutritious content, but it is a good start.
Be sure to carefully check the ingredients list, to check that is made up of high-quality, nutritious components, and free from fillers and other undesirables. Note that the ingredients are listed in order of quantity,
so you can check which components make up the bulk of the food. Ideally, dog food should have whole-protein ingredients at the top of the list, such as lamb, beef, chicken, and turkey. Vague terms like “meat”, “poultry”, and “animal” are red flags.
Be Wary of Cheap Products
The saying “you get what you pay for certainly has some truth when it comes to dog food. There are plenty of cheap dog food products around, but you can be assured that these contain cheap ingredients.
In order to find a high-quality dog food that will promote better health for your dog, you need to be prepared to pay for it. As a rule, the cheapest dog foods should be avoided, and most of the superior dog foods can be found only at pet stores, specialty stores, or through your vet.
However, this does mean you should simply buy the most expensive product available without further investigation. There are certain expensive dog foods that are specifically designed for certain circumstances or conditions, and there is no need to pay extra for this if your dog doesn’t need it.
Consider Your Dog’s Individual Characteristics
Your dog’s breed has a large amount of influence on the kind of food you should give them. The size of the breed, as well as other breed-specific characteristics affect the kind of nutrients they need for proper growth, a balanced immune system, healthy skin and coat, and bone development.
For example, smaller breeds have a faster metabolism and therefore need more fatty nutrients than medium and large breed dogs.
You also need to be very careful not to give small dogs too many calories as they are at risk of obesity, while more active breeds need a higher calorie intake to fuel all their activity.
Additionally, your dog’s age and reproductive status influences the kind of food you should give them. Puppies need more calories per day compared to senior dogs, and lactating mothers also need a higher caloric diet.
Check Your Dog’s Digestion
Once you think you have the right kind of food for your dog, you can check to make sure it is sitting well with their stomach but observing their digestive habits. There are certain digestive red flags that indicate the food is not right for your dog.
These include abnormalities in your dog’s faces or defecation habits, and unusual flatulence. Try a new dog food for at least a week and observe these factors.
You’ll also be able to tell whether your dog is getting the right amount of nutrients based on certain physical characteristics, such as whether they have a glossy, shiny coat, and their general behavior and energy levels.
If you notice any serious reactions, stop feeding your dog that type of food immediately and consult with your vet.
Be On The Look Out For Allergies
It is also important to be vigilant for signs of an allergic reaction when giving your dog a new type of food. In fact, this is important at any time in order to promote optimal health for your dog.
Signs of allergies include excessive scratching, thinning coat in patches, and red skin. If you know your dog has a pre-disposition for allergies, but careful when choosing a dog food. Search for foods that are designed to help manage allergies, and ask your vet for recommendations.