As a former employee of Petsmart, I used to help people make choices about
the right food for their dogs.
Isn’t it important to choose a high-quality and healthy food for your dog?
Four Tips for Choosing the Right Dog Food
Dogs: They’re your best friend. They’re the ones who drive you insane, but you
still love the crap out of them anyway. And they love you. Unconditionally.
So, isn’t the kind of food you’re feeding them important? Surprisingly, a lot
of people don’t believe it is. In fact, as a former employee of Petsmart, I
used to hear people come in every day and complain about how many different
dog foods we carried. They’d make a comment about how all of them were the
same—and then they’d walk out the door with the cheapest bag.
The truth, however, is that it’s not all the same. Some of it can actually be
very bad for your dog.
In this article, I won’t tell you which food or brand to buy, but I will give
you a few tips to help you select the right food for your furry best friend.
1. Meat Should Always Be the First Ingredient
While dogs can eat plant material, evidence shows that they are carnivores and
as such, it’s much easier for them to digest meat. But beware, just because
the first ingredient is meat doesn’t mean it has a lot of meat in it.
Usually, ingredients are weighed before they are processed, so the weight of
the meat is actually much less after processing.
Also, always look for specifically named meats, such as lamb or chicken. If
you see a generic term like “animal fat,” that’s a red flag because that meat
could have come from anywhere (including roadkill or a bunch of different
animals from leftover products at slaughterhouses).
Bottom line: If meat is not the first ingredient then it is likely a food with
lots of filler plant materials that has little to no nutritional value for
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2. Check Which Preservatives Are Used
Generally, dog foods will list what preservatives were used along with the
ingredients. Some preservatives are very harmful to your dog, such as BHA and
BHT, which are known carcinogens. Your dog food should be preserved with
natural preservatives, like tocopherol.
3. Know Your Dog’s Specific Needs
Dogs have different needs based on their breed, lifestyle, and age. For
example, large-breed dogs should have glucosamine in their diet because it
helps prevent the hip and joint problems that are common in large dogs.
Puppies also need specially formulated foods to help stabilize growth patterns
and to help with development. You should research your dog’s specific needs in
order to find the right food.
4. The Bottom Line Is: Do Your Research
Always make sure to research a food before giving it to your dog: know the
ingredients, know the preservatives, know any recalls on the food, and read
about other people’s experiences with the food.
Don’t believe everything that’s written on the bag. Just like human food
companies, dog food companies might spin the truth, too. For example, some dog
food companies claim that their food is made in the U.S., but most of the
ingredients are sourced from a different country.
If you switch your dog’s food, make sure to do it gradually (over a period of
10 days is what is usually recommended). If you don’t do this, your furry
friend could have an upset stomach for a few days. Diarrhea after switching
foods is pretty common, but if it lasts for more than a week you should stop
giving your dog that food and consider seeing a vet. Your dog might have an
allergy. Another sign of an allergy is a rash, usually forming on the dog’s
Good luck to you and your pet on your journey to find the best food!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
© 2016 Danielle Hussey
Allisyn Nichols from Texas on November 16, 2016:
Great info! Thanks so much. I’m always wondering if my little Watson is
getting enough nutrients and often supplement what I feed him with small
amounts of healthy people food.