One of the more challenging parts of dog ownership is choosing the right brand of food. There are some dog owners, breeders and vets that recommend specific types of diets or dog food options, while others may have just as many opinions about alternatives.
For most dogs and most dog owners, there are some basic guidelines to help to select the correct dog food. Choosing from high-quality, reputable companies or making your dog food yourself are all good choices based on your comfort level and your dog’s health needs.
Top Quality Food Options
There are four main types of dog food to consider. One is a natural diet, sometimes called the BARF or Bones and Raw Foods Diet, which is meant to provide the same foods as dogs have been living on since the beginning of time. This requires the owner procure not only raw meats, bones, vegetables and fruits for dogs, but also provide them in the correct amounts and combinations.
While it sounds complicated, the BARF diet is recommended by many vets and breeders. It eliminates additives and preservatives from the dog’s diet and can help with problems with skin, coat and overall health and wellness for dogs.
The other options include kibble or dry food, semi-moist or canned foods. These are the most commonly fed, but there are a variety of qualities and options. These foods need to be carefully evaluated for the quality of ingredients and their percentage of protein, fat and additives. Look for labels where you can read the ingredients list and understand what is in the food. Avoid those with a lot of “meals” and “by-products” or any type of grain, including corn, listed to the top of the ingredients list.
Avoid foods that are listed as having “beef flavor” or “chicken flavor,” instead look for foods that contain beef, chicken, lamb or other meats as the main ingredients. Dogs do not need grains, these are used as fillers and can often be a source of allergies for many dogs. If your dog does have allergies, look for a food that is recommended by your vet or try a home diet until you identify the allergens for your pet.
When it comes to puppies, food has to be selected to the size of the dog, which will be dependent on breed or mixed breed characteristics. While growing puppies need lots of nutrients and protein, large to giant breed puppies can have significant musculoskeletal growth problems is fed too high of a protein and fat diet.
Talk to your vet about the best type of diet for your puppy. Both kibble and moist or semi-moist foods can be a good option, but choose only the best quality.
Dogs with diabetes, older dogs or dogs that are very inactive often benefit from a lower protein and higher fiber type of diet. These are often sold in specialty brands, but again it will be essential to look at what is on the label. You want whole meats, healthy vegetables and no artificial preservatives to help your dog throughout his or her life stages.