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How to Choose Dog Food: What is the best food for dogs?

Your dog's diet is the foundation for a strong body and a healthy life. By meeting their nutritional needs you help to provide solid, long-term care for them. Our Argyle vets talk about how to choose the best dog food for dogs and what you should keep in mind while making your decision.

So, what's the best dog food?

Ensuring that your dog is happy and healthy is of the utmost importance for any pet parent. You can build this foundation on a good, nutritional diet along with exercise and routine care. But what type of food does your dog need? And what does all of the information on the labels mean?

The vets at our Argyle animal hospital are here to offer some advice and information about choosing the best food for your dog and what to watch out for.

Are there different types of food for dogs?

While dog food doesn't have the variety that you may find with your food, there are still many different types to choose from. No matter what food you choose to feed to your dog, you must be sure that it at least meets the nutritional needs of your pup.

Here are some of the most common types of dog food:

  • Kibble
  • Canned Food
  • Semi-Moist Dog Food
  • Home Cooked Food
  • Raw Dog Food

What are the nutritional needs of dogs?

The nutritional needs of your dog will depend on their size, weight, age, and health. If you have a large breed dog then you may want to choose a food that has added vitamins and minerals to help support bone health as large breed dogs commonly experience musculoskeletal issues.

Small breed dogs tend to need smaller-sized kibble as their small mouth and throat make it difficult for them to eat larger-sized kibble, increasing the risk of choking.

Choosing the best dog food for your dog should be taken seriously and done with plenty of research and a conversation with your vet.

What are the best dog foods for puppies?

If you have a young puppy they will have a specific set of dietary needs that can't be met by standard adult dog food. The good news is that all of the major dog food brands have special puppy formulas that contain all of the ingredients and nutrients that your puppy needs. If you still aren't sure which of these puppy formulas is right for your young dog you can reach out to your vet for some guidance.

You can find dog foo formulas that get even more specific such as puppy food that is specifically made for the size they will be, such as large breed puppy chow. These specialized puppy foods will help to ensure that your puppy gets all of the nutrients it needs and support to help manage any breed-specific concerns as it grows.

What is the best food for senior dogs?

As your dog ages and becomes a senior, they will need their diet to change with them. This is because their nutritional needs also change as they age. Depending on how old your senior dog is they may experience different types of weight issues such as gaining weight when they first enter the senior years and losing weight too quickly as they get even older.

One thing you may not expect is that at this stage you may just need to settle on a food that your dog will eat as they may become much more picky at this age. Your vet at our Argyle veterinary clinic can help you find ways to keep your old dog interested in their meals.

What if my dog needs a special diet?

Some dogs end up with sensitivities and allergies to certain ingredients. This can make choosing a food for your dog very difficult. Reach out to your veterinarian in Argyle, to develop a nutritional plan for your dog in these situations.

Always Check the Ingredients

The easiest way to tell if a food will be good for your dog is to read the label. While the label has all of the information you need it might be difficult to read everything you need to, especially if you are trying to do so right there in the store. Unfortunately, another issue is that some labels are purposely misleading, making it difficult to tell what the food contains. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors dog food and requires the label to provide you with eight key pieces of information. There are also labeling requirements that change from state to state. The 8 main pieces of information that are required on dog food labels are:

  • Product name
  • Net weight of the product
  • Name and address of the manufacturer
  • Guaranteed Analysis
  • List of ingredients
  • Intended animal species (i.e. dog or cat)
  • Statement of nutritional adequacy
  • Feeding guidelines

What will the product name tell you about the food?

The name of the product is usually the most important source of information about what is in the food itself. If a food says beef in the name, it means that at least 70% of the food product is beef. However, if it says beef dinner, beef entree, or anything similar then they are only required to have 10% of the final product containing beef. This carries on with beef and beef flavor to 3% or less. This standard of naming dog foods applies to all flavors across the board.

What should you pay attention to on the ingredient list?

Unfortunately, you will be unable to tell the quality of dog food based on their packaging. This means that some companies break up the different types of a single ingredient to have it appear further down the list, even if that ingredient is a major part of the formula.

Meat is another area where companies may cut corners as there are differences in meal weight both pre- and post-production.

Even though you may not know whether or not the ingredients are high quality, you will know what each ingredient is. This can be incredibly useful for dog owners who need to watch for certain ingredients due to dietary restrictions.

Some Dog Foods are Listed as 'Complete' or 'Well-Balanced'

If you are looking at a new brand of dog food, you should first scan the label to look for a statement that says “(Name of product) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.”

This statement is used by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to make sure that a product is complete and balanced for dogs (or cats). This means that the food contains the minimum amount of each nutrient needed by your dog for a well-balanced diet.

Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food

  • Preservatives
  • Corn Syrup, Xylitol, or Food Dyes
  • Meat Meal
  • Unhealthy Fats
  • Melamine

Ingredients to Look For in Dog Food

  • Proteins
  • Fats & Fatty Acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Vitamins & Minerals

What is the healthiest dog food?

The two most popular choices when it comes to dog food are wet foods and dry kibbles. While you may not have much interest in either of these options, they are formulated to keep your companion healthy. All common dog food brands have gone through extensive testing to ensure that they meet the basic needs of a dog's dietary needs.

Dogs do not only eat meat while they do eat a large amount of meat, their diet is also supplemented by vitamins, minerals, and even fiber. A good dog food will contain meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits. The best dog food for your pup has a well-balanced combination of these made with high-quality ingredients.

You can speak with your vet to learn about recommended dog foods that may meet the specific needs of your furry friend.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you would like to learn more about the nutritional needs of your dog and what a healthy diet might look like, consult our veterinary team in Argyle today!

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