Who would’ve thought that something as basic as choosing a food to feed your dog could be so complicated? But when you browse the shelves at your supermarket or favourite pet store, the choice of food available is simply staggering. There’s dry food and wet food, cans and bulk bags, fresh pet meat, cheap brands and expensive ones, and diets that have been specially created to suit all manner of canine dietary requirements.
With so much to choose from, you could be forgiven for being a little overwhelmed and even a bit confused. But feeding your dog a diet that provides all the nutrients he needs for a happy and healthy life is essential, so it’s important that you choose a dog food that’s perfect for your pooch. The four simple tips in our dog food buyer’s guide will help you do exactly that.
1. Choose a food for your dog’s life stage and breed
A common mistake many pet owners make when choosing dog food is simply assuming that all dogs need to eat the same things. Dogs’ nutritional requirements vary depending on a range of factors, the list of which is headed by their life stage. Puppies have different needs to adult dogs — for one, they need more protein to help their growing bodies and minds develop — while senior dogs also have their own unique food requirements. With this in mind, look for a dog food designed to suit your pooch’s life stage, such as a food for puppies or adult dogs.
At the same time, it’s also important to be aware that nutritional needs differ between breeds. A pint-sized Jack Russell and a hulking Great Dane will obviously have different dietary needs, so look for a food formulated for dogs of the right size. As an example, your Golden Retriever should love tucking into a large breed dog food.
2. Complete and balanced
Trying to make sense of dog food labels can be just as difficult as
choosing the right food. There’s a whole lot of information to take in, ranging from broad marketing claims through to the nitty gritty of the ingredients included, and it’s easy to feel a little overloaded. The most important thing to look for is a product that is labelled as ‘complete and balanced’. These words mean that the product has been specially formulated to maintain all the nutrients (and at the proper quantities) needed by the dogs at which it is targeted. Feeding your pooch a complete and balanced food is the best way to give her a healthy and happy life.
3. You get what you pay for
We’d all love to be able to give our dogs the best that money can buy, but unfortunately that’s not always an option. Cost is always going to be a factor when choosing a dog food, but it’s important that you balance the price charged with the quality of the food your purchase. Of course, just because a particular brand of dog food is expensive doesn’t mean that it’s the best diet for your dog but, generally speaking, the more expensive foods are usually better quality than cheap formulas.
If you can reasonably afford it, feeding your dog a super-premium quality dog food is recommended. These foods are backed by years of scientific research and contain all the nutrients your dog needs for good health. And while they may cost a little bit more now, they’ll also reduce the risk of health problems and potentially expensive vet bills later on.
With a super-premium food as the base of your dog’s diet, you can then add in the occasional extra treat or snack if you want to give your pooch a bit of variety —and what dog doesn’t love a big, juicy bone every now and then?
4. Ask your vet
Even after taking the first three tips on board, you might still be having trouble choosing a food for your dog. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for help. Vets know all the benefits and disadvantages of the different foods available, and they also know your pet and his or her unique nutritional needs. Your vet can help you decide on a diet and feeding plan that satisfies all your dog’s requirements and that will keep him in tip-top shape all year round.