How to Choose the Right Food for Your Dog

As a former employee of Petsmart, I used to help people make choices about the right food for their dogs.

Dogs. They're your best friend. They're the ones who drive you insane, but you still love the crap out of them anyway. And they love you. Unconditionally. Forever.

So, isn't the kind of food you're feeding them important? Surprisingly, a lot of people don't believe it is. In fact, as a former employee of Petsmart, I used to hear people come in every day and complain about how many different dog foods we carried. They'd make a comment about how all of them were the same—and then they'd walk out the door with the cheapest bag.

The truth, however, is that it's not all the same. Some of it can actually be very bad for your dog.

In this article, I won't tell you which food or brand to buy, but I will give you a few tips to help you select the right food for your furry best friend.

Meat Should Always Be the First Ingredient

While dogs can eat plant material, evidence shows that they are carnivores and as such, it's much easier for them to digest meat. But beware, just because meat is the first ingredient doesn't mean it has a lot of meat in it. Usually, ingredients are weighed before they are processed, so the weight of the meat is actually much less after processing.

Also, always look for specifically named meats, such as lamb or chicken. If you see a generic term like "animal fat," that's a red flag because that meat could have come from anywhere (including roadkill or a bunch of different animals from leftover products at slaughterhouses).

Bottom line: If meat is not the first ingredient then it is likely a food with lots of filler plant materials that has little to no nutritional value for your pet.

Check Which Preservatives Are Used

Generally, dog foods will list what preservatives were used along with the ingredients. Some preservatives are very harmful to your dog, such as BHA and BHT, which are known carcinogens. Your dog food should be preserved with natural preservatives, like tocopherol.

Know Your Dog's Specific Needs

Dogs have different needs based on their breed, lifestyle, and age. For example, large-breed dogs should have glucosamine in their diet because it helps prevent the hip and joint problems that are common in large dogs. Puppies also need specially formulated foods to help stabilize growth patterns and to help with development. You should research your dog's specific needs in order to find the right food.

The Bottom Line

Always make sure to research a food before giving it to your dog: know the ingredients, know the preservatives, know any recalls on the food, and read about other people's experience with the food.

Don't believe everything that's written on the bag. Just like human food companies, dog food companies might spin the truth, too. For example, some dog food companies claim that their food is made in the U.S., but most of the ingredients are sourced from a different country.

If you switch your dog's food, make sure to do it gradually (over a period of 10 days is what is usually recommended). If you don't do this, your furry friend could have an upset stomach for a few days. Diarrhea after switching foods is pretty common, but if it lasts for more than a week you should stop giving your dog that food and consider seeing a vet. Your dog might have an allergy. Another sign of an allergy is a rash, usually forming on the dog's underbelly.

Good luck to you and your pet on your journey to find the best food!


© 2016 Danielle Hussey

Allisyn Nichols from Texas on November 16, 2016:

Great info! Thanks so much. I'm always wondering if my little Watson is getting enough nutrients and often supplement what I feed him with small amounts of healthy people food.

What Is The Best Food To Feed My Dog?

Dog Food and its importance:

Chicken Sticks for Dogs are rich in chondroitin and have high protein value. These elements are beneficial for dogs as they are natural and have low moisture content with no preservatives or additives added. Its nutrient value helps joint pain in dogs and promotes mobility and chondroitin is a nutrient that supports dental health. While feeding, supervision is required to ensure that the dog doesn’t swallow the entire stick at once.

Natural Treats

Natural bones for dogs are available in raw and cooked form. Pet owners should aim to choose the raw dehydrated bone options because they provide the right balance of nutrition for your pets. Veterinarians agree that pet owners should avoid cooked bones, as they can be dangerous for your pets. Broken teeth, mouth injuries or constipation among other ailments have been known to occur when choosing the wrong bone.

Because choosing a dog food, as well as treatment is such an important decision, pet owners should aim for an option with wholesome ingredients. Canadian Dog Food is a locally sourced product, made with high-quality ingredients which adhere to the necessary manufacturing standards. As for treats, Natural dog chews and dehydrated treats are a great way to compliment a balanced diet for dogs and provide them with complete nutrition to support good health.

How to Choose the Right Food for Your Dog

Good food is the key to good health and a long life for your dog, but there are dozens of dog foods to choose from. There are many different brands of dog food, with different blends for specific pet needs, different flavors, ingredients, and nutritional needs, along with wet, dry, and semi-moist foods – which one is best for your pet?

Factors in Your Dog Food Choice

Conscientious dog owners must take many factors into consideration when choosing the appropriate dog food, including:

    Age or Stage of Life: A puppy's nutritional needs are much different from an adult dog, and a senior dog has still different needs. Different foods are formulated to meet these changing needs.

Weight Control: Just like humans may have trouble controlling their weight, so can dogs. Some foods are formulated for weight loss, while others are designed to help dogs gain weight in a healthy way.

Activity Level: A very active dog needs more calories than a more sedentary pooch, and the proper food will give the dog the energy it needs for its lifestyle.

Size: A dog's size is a factor in food choice, because foods designed for larger breeds typically have larger kibbles that may be more difficult for smaller dogs to eat.

Health: Dogs with specific health concerns such as pregnancy or nursing, diabetes, cancer, or food allergies will need foods that are best formulated for those conditions.

Ingredients: Dog food ingredients are listed on the label, and higher quality foods will list protein (fish, chicken, beef, etc.) first, and other familiar fruits and vegetables should also be included. Grains, fillers, and unpronounceable ingredients are less desirable.

Pet Preferences: Dogs have different preferences just as humans have favorite foods. Owners should choose healthy, nutritious foods their dogs will enjoy.

  • Cost: Food costs can vary greatly, and pet owners need to be mindful of their budgets when grocery shopping for their dogs. The best rule is to opt for the most expensive, nutritious pet food that will fit the budget without causing difficulties.
  • No matter what type of food a dog owner chooses, it is important to always keep the dog's health in mind. When switching foods, it is best to blend the pet's old food and new food together for several days, gradually changing proportions for more new food as the dog's digestive system adjusts. If carefully chosen, the dog will enjoy every meal.

    What’s Your Favorite Tips?

    As a proud spaniel owner and all- round animal fan, I love sharing hints, tips and pearls of wisdom on the best ways to care for our furry little friends.

    If you’ve found any of today’s tips particularly useful, and think your friends would to, please feel free to share the list around.

    If you’ve already tried some of the tips and want to give your thoughts (or even add some extra ones to the list), please reply in the comments section below…. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Watch the video: How to Choose the Right Diet for Your Dog with Veterinarian Dr. Ashley Geoghegan

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