There are so many choices out there when it comes to dog food. Whether you're in a grocery store, a big box pet store, or a pet supply boutique, you're faced with a wall of different food options.
Here's the first step to choosing a quality food: READ the ingredients and KNOW what you're looking for. We realize that's kind of a two-fold deal. Knowing what you're looking for involves a little bit of light research.
Fat is an essential part of a balanced dog diet. Dogs get most of their energy from fat, unlike humans. No "rendered fats" allowed! Look for named fat sources like salmon oil, chicken fat, etc. That's a pretty easy one.
Here's where it gets a little controversial. At the end of the day, nobody wants to say they like chemicals. The fact is, they're really useful and we need them for certain things. Don't worry if you see some long funky names on the label. They're preservatives. Without these, your food would expire way too quickly. On the flip side, some chemicals really should not be used in pet foods and can have harmful side effects. So if you're concerned about the "-ates", "-ides", and "-enes" listed on your pet food label, pick the one that has the fewest. If you're following the rest of these guidelines, odds are that bad chemicals won't be an issue in the food you choose.
For the best of the best, you’ll see across the board that Orijen, Acana, and Wellness Core score the highest. These are fantastic foods that come in a wide range of wholesome varieties. BUT! It’s not all about brands and it’s not all about price. Don't be fooled into thinking that you've got to have a money tree in order to afford good pet food. There are some hidden gems out there in the pet food world that have both good quality ingredients and palatable sticker prices. Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul runs about $40 for a thirty-five pound bag. That's really good; it's not grain-free, but it doesn't have any sketchy ingredients. AvoDerm is a wallet-friendly grain-free choice. Depending on which protein you select (fish generally costs more than chicken), you can get a twenty-five to thirty pound bag for $40-50. A lot of folks dismiss Merrick because they label their foods with silly names like Turducken, Thanksgiving Dinner, and Wingaling. Merrick is actually a really nutritious, affordable, and palatable food. Canidae is another great quality, mid-budget, grain-free food. With independent companies like Canidae, you can rest easier knowing that you’re getting a cleaner, more consistent product in every bag than those generated by big-box brand food companies.
Bonus: take your dog shopping with you! He can’t go in the grocery store, but small pet supply stores welcome our four-legged friends. Going to pick up your buddy’s food can become another special little outing for both of you to enjoy together. Finally, it’s encouraging to know that if you need help choosing a food, your local pet supply store has plenty of knowledgeable employees who will be happy to help guide you in the right direction. You can’t get that kind of expertise in a grocery store!
For more help with exploring proper nutrition for your dog as well as a wealth of additional useful food info, please check out these helpful links: