There are infinitely many different types of dog food out there. How do you choose the "right" one?
I'll let you in on a secret - there is no one "right" dog food! In fact, many dog food experts recommend changing up your dog's food frequently to obtain nutritional balance. If you've ever taken one of our obedience classes, you've heard some of this before. Your dog's food might be labeled as "complete and balanced," but that doesn't necessarily mean that the food is formulated to be "complete and balanced" for YOUR dog! Different types of dogs require different amounts of nutrients.
What might work for a Chihuahua won't necessarily work for a Husky. The wide variety of qualifying methods for a dog food to be nutritionally “complete and balanced” results in a large range of amounts of macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). If you feed your dog only one brand of dog food for years, you are concentrating the nutritional attributes of that food in your dog.
What if the food is a little higher or lower in minerals than it should be? What if the food contains the absolute minimum of certain vitamins? These things will probably not be a problem for any dog in the short term. However, after years of eating the same type of food, these imperfect nutrient levels can cause health problems such as toxic build-up of minerals or low vitamin levels in the blood.
Solution: Switch your dog's food frequently
These problems can be easily prevented by switching your dog's food frequently. We recommend switching manufacturers often too, since some manufacturers use the same vitamin/mineral mix in their products. This helps guarantee that your dog will receive nutritional balance over time.
Some dogs have more sensitive stomachs than others. If you find your dog has a sensitive stomach, assuming he or she has no allergies, your dog's body may be lacking in a variety of digestive enzymes and gut bacteria due to eating the same type of food for months or years. The trick is to start off changing your dog's food slowly. Take about a week to slowly integrate a new brand of food, then switch over completely. The more variety in your dog's diet, the more robust his or her stomach will be!
Choosing your dog's food
It can be a little overwhelming having to choose between all of the different brands of food out there. Target and Walmart will offer different brands of food than Petsmart and Petco, and Petsmart and Petco will offer different brands of food than specialty pet food stores. You can try using a dog food rating website, like Dog Food Advisor, or you can shop pet food stores yourself and compare the different brands they offer.
It's extremely important to read the nutritional labels when picking out your dog's food.
There is a wide range in the quality of the dog food available on the market - from the McDonald's equivalent to the Whole Foods equivalent
Watch out for brands including by-product ingredients! These ingredients are labeled as meat by-products, poultry by-products, meat by-product meal, or poultry by-product meal. "Meat" and "poultry" are not very specific - this could be any type of meat or poultry. Beef? Chicken? Pork? Something else? By-products are unfit for human consumption and are not exactly kept clean and chilled through processing and transporting.
You want to see animal protein identified by species at the top of the ingredients list. Dog food ingredients are listed in order of the weight of that ingredient in the formula. "Beef," for example, is a great thing to see at the top of the list. You know exactly what type of meat is in your dog's food, and you know it's higher-quality than by-product.
Watch out for artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners. We promise the color of your dog's food won't matter to your dog!
If you want more advice about dog food, please feel free to contact us!