Looking to improve your dog’s health but don’t know how to choose dog food? Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best type of food for your dog!
That’s the number of dollars spent on dog food projected for 2019.
If you have a canine companion, you’re contributing to this huge industry.
Many dog food manufacturers are looking to increase their share in that, without making the best product for your pup. It’s important to know the ingredients and quality of the food you’re feeding your furry friend.
Here’s a guide on how to choose dog food to increase your dog’s quality of life.
Not Every Dog Has The Same Nutritional Needs
Dogs aren’t that different from us. Just as children need different nutrients than adults, puppies need different things than adult dogs.
Small dog breeds, for instance, have high metabolisms. This means they digest their food quickly, so they should eat 3 to 4 times a day.
Small dogs need about 40 calories per pound, while large dogs need about 22.5 calories per pound. The little ones also need smaller food so they don’t choke.
Bigger dogs tend to run into musculoskeletal issues as they age, emphasizing that they have different dietary needs throughout their lives. Consult your veterinarian and research your dog’s breed and age to see what they need.
If your doggo tends to lick their paws excessively, scratch, vomit, or diarrhea, they may have a food allergy. Consult your vet if you think this is the case.
If they do have allergies, a sensitive tummy, or other dietary restrictions, keep those in mind when looking into dog food ingredients.
Unless one of those allergies is to grains, you shouldn’t buy grain-free foods. Grains are a good source of needed nutrients. Plus, grain-free dog food tends to be more expensive.
It’s worth it if your canine companion has an allergy, but otherwise, it’s unnecessary.
Regardless, you should understand how to read labels to choose what’s best for your dog.
There are laws in place protecting what we ingest. The FDA moderates this through laws on food packaging.
Similarly, the Association for American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets the standards for pet food.
They require the following information on dog food packages.
Brand and Product Name
The words used on products influences what we think is in them. With that in mind, laws are in place to hold manufacturers accountable.
For instance, if a product says “beef”, beef must make up at least 70% of the product. If it says “with beef”, however, it requires less than 3%.
Details on these distinctions are on AAFCO’s website linked above.
Name and Address of the Manufacturer or Distributor
By referencing this, you can call or research the company to get more information on the product.
Name of Species the Food is For
It’s as straight-forward as it seems. Companies must say whether the food is for dogs or cats, so as to be clear who should consume the food.
This requirement doesn’t actually have to do with the quality of the ingredients.
Rather, it states the bag must include net weight or net volume on the lower third of the bag.
In general, dogs should eat meat (including animal byproducts), vegetables, grains, and fruits to have a well-rounded diet.
The ingredient list ranks items based on weight, with the more available ingredients listed first. These ingredients must be GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and should include layman’s terms, if available.
This section lists the percentage of each of the nutrients. There are requirements in place limiting how packaging can say things like “high in Vitamin C”.
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Being adequate means the food is complete and balanced for the life stage listed. It’s based on standards for growth, reproduction, and general health.
The bag should list the amount and frequency they suggest you feed your dog. This is only a suggestion, as it may vary based on your dog’s species or age.
Consult your vet and do research to decide when and how much to feed.
Dry Versus Wet Food
Dry food is 90% dry and 10% water. Companies process and cook the food, which destroys toxins potentially present in the ingredients.
Dry food tends to be cheaper and has everything your dog needs. You may opt for wet food if you have a sensitive eater.
Also, wet food contains more fresh meat and textured proteins. This may be higher quality but tends to be more expensive. Plus, you must refrigerate the food after opening.
Rather than focusing on dry versus wet, focus on the brand to choose.
How to Choose Dog Food Brands
Once you understand how to read labels, you can decide which brand offers the best product. You want to find one that provides quality, well-sourced ingredients. You might not be able to find this on the label, so don’t be afraid to call different companies to ask questions.
This site rates the best dog food brands by using a rating algorithm.
However you decide to research, be sure to consult your vet and choose what’s best for your dog’s breed. Online information should come from a credible source backed by research or experts.
If you’re going as far as checking the ingredients in your dog’s kibble, go ahead and check the ingredients in their treats or other nutrition supplements.
A new trend in medicine includes CBD for dogs. CBD is cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive compound found in Cannabis Sativa L (hemp). There’s research supporting that it could help them with arthritis, seizures, anxiety, appetite, and cancer.
Should you decide to choose this route of medicine for your pup, do your research and consult your vet. The same thing goes for CBD as with food — everything isn’t made equally.
Knowledge is Power
So is nutrition!
Now that you know how to choose dog food, find the best brand to improve the quality of life for your little family member.
Read more articles on our website to grow your knowledge base so you can make the best choices in your life.
Be sure to check out our entire pets category.
Meg is an author at Cinnamon Hollow. She writes on a variety of topics sharing tips and ideas for daily life.
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