Dog owners know that there are a few crucial things you need to provide for your pooch. They need water, shelter, and, of course, food. If you’re feeding Fido food from the dollar store, you’re doing him a huge disservice.
You should know what to look for in dog food to ensure you’re getting your pup off to a good start. Poor quality food with the wrong ingredients can harm any animal.
Keep reading to learn how to choose dog food to ensure your pooch grows up healthy and strong.
Consider age, breed, and activity level
The physical characteristics of your pet are essential when choosing dog food for them. Puppies, for example, have many different nutritional needs than senior dogs. High activity breeds, like Labrador retrievers, have vastly different needs than a lazier pooch like a bichon frise.
Choose a food that’s formulated for the life stage your pup is in to ensure he’s getting his nutritional needs met. Puppies need diets with high-quality protein to support their growing muscles. Senior pups may need food that’s lower in calories with less fat.
Read the ingredients
Understanding a nutrition label is key when it comes to how to choose a good dog food.
Focus on the first three to five products in the ingredients list. Since ingredients are listed by quantity, the first few are what the manufacturer used most in constructing the food.
If you’re curious about how to choose dog food that’s actually good for your pup, look for meat. Protein should be one of the first ingredients. If it’s listed in the first place position, that’s even better.
Avoid foods that list “meat by-products” in their ingredients. Manufacturers can list “meat by-products” as an ingredient if they use any part of an animal in their food — beaks, feathers, intestines included. They can also use any part of a sick animal — not something you want to feed your pup.
If you see a protein followed by the word “meal,” you’re heading down the right path. Chicken meal, lamb meal, and salmon meal will only contain actual meat and no byproducts.
If your budget allows you to spoil your dog, choose foods without the word “meat” before the protein. They might also use phrases like “fresh lamb” or “whole chicken,” which tells you this is a premium-grade food.
Steer clear of any foods labeled with “flavor” after the protein. “Beef flavor” or “chicken flavor” only contains trace amounts of actual protein.
Do your research
It’s not enough to read the ingredients and choose food based on that alone. One of our best (and most time-consuming) tips on how to choose dog food is to research the manufacturer.
Find out how long the company has been in business and how it sources its ingredients. Do they have any specific steps they follow for quality control? Reach out to the manufacturer if you have any questions.
It doesn’t hurt to teach yourself the basics of dog feeding, either. Knowing how, what, and when to feed your dog can make a huge difference in their life. Websites like Hound Junkie are a great place to start teaching yourself the basics of dog ownership.
How to choose dog food made easy
Knowing how to choose dog food is easy if you use our helpful tips. Remember our guide when food shopping for Fido to ensure he’s the healthiest pup he can be.