We all want our dogs to be in the best state of health, which is highly influenced by the foods you feed them.
So you must ensure you are providing your dog with a well-balanced diet.
It can be challenging to choose the best food as many dog food options are on the market, and all claim to be the best.
Everyone, vets, breeders, and trainers, have their opinions on canine nutrition.
Note that there is no best dog food out there; you are the one to determine what food best suits your dog.
And you can do this by checking the type, quality, and ingredients.
Use these tips when choosing the right food for your dog based on its dietary needs.
13 Tips to Use When Shopping for Your Dog’s Dietary Needs
When looking for the right food for your dog, you might be overwhelmed by the choices in the market. Simplify your search by using these tips.
1. Do Your Research
There are many pet food brands in the market, and the chances of choosing the wrong food are high.
So do your research; if you see a brand you are interested in, check reviews on the websites and third-party review sites.
Ask your friends with the same dog as you if they’ve ever used that brand for their pet food and if they’d recommend it.
While researching, remember that your dog’s diet must be yummy and nutritious, containing amino acids, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, and carbohydrates.
2. Consult with a Vet Nutritionist
The web is flooded with canine nutrition information, both beneficial and misleading.
But the best nutrition advice will be from your vet nutritionist.
There are many choices of dog food, including:
- Organic commercial diets
- Raw food
- Premium dog food
- Generic dog food
- Veterinary prescribed diets
- Cooked diets
These foods differ in terms of quality, nutrient composition, and cost. For instance, commercial food includes both wet and dry foods, which require the addition of water before feeding.
Homemade dog food involves precision and care to ensure you are offering a balanced diet.
3. Read Dog Food Labels
Don’t just grab food off the shelf. Take the time to read what’s written on the product packaging.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires all dog food brands to have labels to help people make better choices.
The label must include the following information:
- Name of the product
- Product’s net weight
- Ingredients used
- Intended animal use (cat or dog)
- Manufacturer’s name and address
- Guaranteed analysis report
- Nutrient compositions
- Feeding instructions
According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the food must meet the strict profiles developed for dog and puppy nutrition. When shopping for dog food, consider those companies that use quality ingredients and meet AAFCO requirements.
4. Ask for Recommendations
You have done your research, checked several brands, and chosen a few of them.
The next step will be to ask other people who have dogs or deal with dogs about their experience with the brands you’re considering.
You can start by asking your vet, dog breeders, and trainers. These have all dealt with dogs for many years, so they’ll have helpful input.
You can also visit your local dog store, especially one that deals with quality diets.
With consulting, you’ll get conflicting opinions, so take that information and your research, and make your decision based on the facts.
And remember, no one knows your dog better than you. So as much as their insight is helpful, put your dog’s needs at the forefront.
5. Your Dog’s Life Stage
It is crucial to consider your dog’s life stage. Is it a puppy, an adult, or an older dog?
The nutritional needs of a puppy are different from that of an adult dog. Therefore, choose food fit for their life stage.
Puppies: They need foods that promote growth and development. They are also most active at this stage and include proteins for energy.
This can be in the form of chicken, lamb, beef, or turkey. Protein should comprise 25 percent of their overall diet.
Adults: Adult dogs are less active and need fewer proteins and fats. Another factor influencing the food consumed is where they spend most of their time.
If they have a kennel outside, they will need more energy to keep warm at night, so more food is required.
Senior dogs: These are dogs older than seven years.
Senior dogs are not as strong, so you will want to include soft grain-free dog foods in their diet. It can be tricky to choose the food and the amount, so it’s wise to consult your vet.
6. Mix Wet and Dry Foods
Although dogs love wet foods, as they are soft and yummy, you must also include soft dry dog foods.
The dry foods help maintain your dog’s oral health as they scrape food off their teeth.
Therefore, you can feed your dog a mixture of wet and dry food.
7. Research More about Grains
Meeting your dog’s dietary needs means carbohydrates are part of the equation, and the best source of carbohydrates is grains.
So it would help if you learned about different grains and how they benefit your pup. Grains are ideal for highly active dogs, so if your dog is not very active, choose food with low carbs.
That’s why reading the packaging is crucial, as it has information on the amount of carbs you get per serving.
While you’ll find that most dogs have food allergies related to proteins, it’s rare to find one allergic to grains.
8. Food Allergies
When choosing the right food for your dog, you must consider whether it has allergies.
For instance, if you feed your dog and notice that they are scratching all the time, have ear infections or redness on their skin, or their coat starts thinning, take them to the vet for allergy analysis.
To better feed your allergic dog, feed them proteins and carbs consistently for three months.
Alternatively, you can choose dog food brands that offer specialized diets.
This will help strengthen your dog’s immunity, creating a solid resistance to allergic reactions.
9. Use Samples
Most dog food companies offer their clients samples or a refund warranty, allowing them to test whether the food is the right match for their pup.
Therefore, before settling on a brand, use samples to see if your dog loves it and rule out allergic reactions.
If you don’t know your dog’s allergies or food intolerance, check for itching, skin redness, diarrhea, and vomiting.
These are all signs that the food is not the right match and that you should continue searching.
10. Switching Their Diet from Time to Time
It is wise to switch your pet’s food from time to time.
This helps you learn his favorites and find various options.
You can change from one company to the next, from commercial to homemade.
All in all, ensure that at all times, you are feeding your dog a healthy and balanced diet.
The reason experts recommend switching the food over time is that feeding your dog one type of food can become boring over time.
It can also cause your dog to develop allergies because too much of anything is poisonous.
11. Scheduling Feeding Times
Choosing the right dog food based on its dietary need also has much to do with their feeding schedule.
Most food companies include feeding guidelines on their packaging. Note that these guidelines do not work for every dog.
For instance, if you feed according to the instructions, it might be too much or too little, so start small and adjust accordingly.
You must also have a feeding schedule. If you opt to feed your dog at a specific time during the day, stick to that time.
Instead of giving your dog one big feed, it’s recommended to divide the food into two feedings, morning and evening.
But the feeding schedule will also largely depend on your dog’s lifestyle.
12. Check Expiration Date
When buying any food product, we always check the expiration date; do the same when shopping for your dog.
Look for words like “best before.” If you buy food with a short shelf life, ensure that you feed it faster, as wastage is frowned upon.
Also, check storage recommendations. Some food has specific storage instructions; if you don’t adhere, the food goes wrong faster.
If you work with higher-value brands, you will access quality packaging, such as BPA-free canned foods, quality plastic pouches, and portable packaging that prolongs the food’s shelf life.
13. Know Which Foods to Avoid
You should be aware of food to avoid when choosing the right food for your dog. These include:
- Raw eggs
- Raw fish
- Bread dough
- Dairy products, such as cheese and milk
Feeding your dog is crucial for their overall health and growth. So make sure to use the tips above when choosing the right food for your dog based on their dietary needs.
A nutritious and well-balanced diet prolongs your dog’s life. Consider consulting with your veterinarian and have them conduct an allergy analysis.