How To Choose A Good Dog Food
Why dog food matters:
A lot of people think that because a dog will eat anything, it’s okay to feed them anything. This couldn’t be less true. Food is a very big factor in your dog’s health and happiness. They need the right balance of nutrients so that their body can repair and perform at its best.
Many humans, if given the choice, would live solely off fast food. Does it mean it’s doing them good, simply because their brain told them they wanted it? Of course not. The same logic applies to dogs. If you want them to live a long, happy, and healthy life, you need to feed them a balanced diet formed of high quality ingredients.
How to choose a good food:
This is where it gets difficult – it’s all well and good knowing your dog needs ‘good’ food – but how do you spot it?
What to avoid:
Unfortunately, the branding, marketing, and advertising industry has a lot to explain when it comes to the foods dog owners all over the world choose to feed their furry friends, since it is usually the biggest brands that offer the worst food.
As a general rule, if a food appears to have a substantial advertising and marketing budget attached to it, it should be avoided.
By the same note, most food found in supermarkets is substandard too. Not all – but if you want to quickly and easily avoid the junk, just avoid buying dog food in supermarkets.
What to look for:
The ingredients list! There are a number of things that will quickly tell you whether a food is good or bad:
Meat content: this should ideally be the first listed food on the ingredients, and should be described using words such as ‘fresh’, ‘deboned’, ‘meal’, or ‘dried’. Avoid anything that uses the word ‘derivatives’.
Grains: Although grain free foods are widely regarded as the optimum diet to feed dogs, and are becoming increasingly widespread, grain based foods still dominate the market, and are not all bad.
Stay away from any foods that use the word ‘cereals’ in their ingredients. This is a general term that allows manufacturers to use whatever grains are cheapest at the time of production. The usual result being that the grains are very low quality.
You should also avoid foods that list maize, corn, and especially gluten in their ingredients. Choose foods that use whole rice instead.
Grain free: grain free foods are becoming increasingly popular, and tend to be the highest quality foods around. However don’t buy a food purely based off the words ‘grain free’. You should still check the meat content and source, as well as the sources of carbohydrates. Vegetables and sweet potatoes are ideal. Potatoes are fine, so long as they appear quite far down the list of ingredients.
Additives: any artificial additives or e-numbers should be avoided like the plague. They are generally used for flavor, but may be there to add color, or give the food a longer life. Whatever the reason they are there, they are not needed. Quality ingredients taste good naturally, your dog doesn’t care what color their food is, and the drying process needed to create kibble gives the food a long enough life without the need for chemical additives.
If you have questions about dog food or what you should feed your dog, make sure to ask your vet.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Sarah writes about choosing dog food for her specialist pet food review site, Campaign for Real Dog Food. Sarah is passionate about feed dogs a well rounded and healthy diet and decided to do her bit to change the eating habits of dogs around the world by launching her blog.