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How to Pick the Best Dog Food

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Last time I talked about fun things you can do for your dog. In todays post, I want to discuss a very important issue- Your dog’s nutrition.

Dogs are not just pets that coexist with humans. Your Dog quickly becomes just another furrier member of your family. When you select items for your own children and family members to eat, you are very picky about the nutritional content of the food you are feeding them. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your dog? There are so many food items and diets available for your dog; it can be extremely difficult to choose the right one.  It is important to know what you are looking for to ensure that your dog is getting the proper nutrition.

When it comes to picking food for your dog, there are a few considerations to think about. Your pet’s age is important, as some foods are specially formulated with different life stages in mind. A puppy will have different nutritional needs than a senior dog. There are also often different formulations for larger and smaller dogs, which may not be an economical choice when you have dogs of different breeds and sizes. A final consideration comes down to your dog’s overall health. Some dogs may require special food for different ailments. A dog with sensitive stomach will require food that accommodates that sensitivity. There are even formulas that help arthritic dogs feel better. For special circumstances like this, getting a vet’s recommendation can be extremely helpful.

Here are some tips for picking the right dog food:

  • Labels

The labels are your friend. The ingredients label lists items by highest to lowest weight. The first ingredient may be a protein, which is incredibly important. However, if the next few ingredients are grains or cereal, it may not have high protein content, which is not ideal. Dogs need their protein. Labels also provide additional information such as the guaranteed analysis that is required and tells consumers what the minimum guarantees for protein and fat as well as the maximum guarantees of moisture and fiber. You will also need to look for the “Nutritional Adequacy Statement”, which informs consumers if the dog food offers complete and balanced nutrition and tells whether or not it is specifically made for a specific life stage.

  • Study Up

It is important to do your research. You can call the consumer relations department of the brand, and the companies will take the time to answer any of your questions. When speaking to a consumer relations person, ask if they manufacture the food in their own factories or if they outsource it. If they manufacture their own, than you know that they offer better quality control and it generally leads to a better quality food. You should research several brands before making a final decision, and there are numerous websites to help you with this.

  • Ask Your Vet

Your vet has a wealth of knowledge in this field. As part of their training, they take nutrition classes to help their patients pick the right food for their dog’s needs. If your vet cannot help you, there are specialized vet nutritionists that can help you pick the right dog food. If your dog needs a special diet, your vet can point you into the right direction

  • Nutritional Value

When you are looking at the commercial dog food label, you will want to find a product that is preserved with vitamin E and other natural preservatives. You will also want a high level of quality protein instead of meat by-products. You will also want to look for products that are supplemented with fatty acids.

  • Type of Food

There are different types of dog food to choose from. There are dry food options, as well as semi-moist and canned options. This is a choice that is based on the individual animal; however dry food is most often recommended for dogs.

If you already have your dog on a specific dog food and you are going to change it, you should take this process slowly. If you immediately switch your dog’s food, you can cause them intestinal problems because the bacteria needed to digest one food may not be applicable to another type of food. When you switch foods, it should be a week to 10 day long process. You will first want to mix 25% of the new food with 75% of the old food for their meal time for at least 3 days. If that is successful, you can then move to a 50/50 mix of the new and old food for 3 days. Then, you should move to a 25% old food, 75% new food mix for another 3 days. At this point, you can completely switch to the new dog food.

So which dog food is the best one for your dog? There really is no definitive answer to this question. Different dogs have different needs, much like humans do. It can take a bit of trial and error finding the right food for your dog, and finding one that they will enjoy eating. If your dog has an excellent body condition, great energy, and bright eyes, you will know that the food you are providing for them is the right one. If you ever have any questions, your vet will be able to assist you in any way they can.

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