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How To Choose a Quality Dog Food, Knowing What’s Inside

Knowing Which Ingredients are Best for Your Furry Friend

Choosing a dog food can be overwhelming with so many varieties on the market. So, how do you determine what is the healthiest choice for your dog? Here are some tips that can help you find the best quality food for your pooch:

Read the Ingredients Label 

No matter what the age of your pet, you’re going to want to see some specific things in the ingredients to be sure it’s good quality food. In pet food, the ingredients are listed by weight/quantity – so the first few ingredients will comprise the bulk of the food.

The first ingredients should always include some form of named animal protein like beef, chicken, lamb, or fish. Caution: avoid ‘meat by-products or poultry by-products’ as these are usually manufactured from low-cost parts that could come from any number of sources. If a listing includes ‘meal’ – a named type such as beef meal or chicken meal is better than ‘meat meal.’

Whole Vegetables, Fruits & Grains

Like humans, dogs get nutritional benefits from whole foods. Good quality dog food formulas will include added essential vitamins and minerals derived from legumes, fruits, vegetables, grains, or meat. If you prefer to leave grain out – whether by choice or necessity due to sensitivities – there are many quality grain-free foods on the market. If you’re not sure, talk to your veterinarian.

Quality Fats & Oils 

A balanced diet provides about 10-15 percent fat, which promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat. Animal fats in dog food provide energy, add taste and flavor to foods, and assist in the absorption of specific vitamins. Quality fats in dog foods can be found in vegetable oil, soybean oil, and fish oil. Various vegetable oils in dog food can be very beneficial in your pup’s diet — especially sunflower and flaxseed oil. Vegetable oils are commonly found in dog food; however, excessive vegetable oil can cause your dog to gain weight or experience diarrhea. Be mindful of how much vegetable oil your furry friend is taking in. Another option for quality fats is poultry fats. Other animal fats that may be found in dog food include beef, lamb, and pork fats. Avoid foods with a generic ‘animal fat’ listing as they can come from less than desirable sources. 

Choose a Food for Your Pet’s Particular Size, Activity Levels & Life Stage

The nutritional needs of a puppy are quite different from an adult or senior dog. Also, the size and activity levels of the dog can be significant. Some pet foods are formulated to meet the dietary needs of a specific breed. For example – a breed that’s susceptible to joint problems might benefit from a diet that includes vitamins and minerals that help strengthen bones.

What to Avoid

Say no to artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. Look for natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract instead. Watch out for added sugar or artificial sweeteners! Dogs love sweet things too, and these are often added to foods to coax dogs to eat sub-standard foods. 

Note the Important Dates on the Bag

Natural preservatives mean the food has a shorter shelf life than those using artificial preservatives. Look for the freshest products by checking the date of manufacture and’ best by’ dates.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

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