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How to Choose Dog Food: What is the Best Food for Dogs?

Deciding which food to feed your pup can be overwhelming. Especially with the wide range of foods that are on the market today. Luckily, our Orange vets are here to share some information about the best dog foods for each stage in your pup's life and what you should know about meeting their nutritional needs.

What's the best dog food to feed my canine companion?

The majority of dog owners feed their pets dry kibble or canned wet food. Commercial dog foods of high quality are strictly regulated and have undergone rigorous testing by veterinary specialists. The healthiest, vet-recommended dog foods will include meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits. These non-meat foods are not just fillers; they can also be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Vet-Recommended Dog Food to Meet Nutritional Needs

Your dog's nutritional needs should be met by most dog foods. Most commercial brands are specially formulated to meet at least the basic nutritional needs of dogs. Not every dog, however, has the same nutritional requirements. Keep this in mind when shopping for dog food.

Dogs need a variety of nutrients in varying amounts throughout their lives. Because a puppy's nutritional needs, for example, differ from those of an adult dog, it is best to feed a puppy formula or 'all life stages' food.

Reading Labels When Choosing the Best Dog Food

Reading the label is one way to tell the difference between good and bad dog food. The FDA requires dog food labels to include eight key pieces of information and individual states may have their own labeling requirements:

  • Product name
  • Net weight of the product
  • Name and address of the manufacturer
  • Guaranteed Analysis
  • List of ingredients
  • Intended animal species (i.e. dog or cat)
  • Statement of nutritional adequacy
  • Feeding guidelines

Product Name

The name of the product tells you a lot about what's inside the can or bag. The term 'beef' implies that beef must account for at least 70% of the total product. In contrast, the terms 'beef dinner', 'beef entrée', or 'beef platter' only require that beef account for at least 10% of the total product. 'With beef' only requires that 3% of the total product be beef, and 'beef flavor' simply means that the product contains enough beef to flavor it (less than 3 percent). The same can be said for other named ingredients, such as 'chicken'.

Ingredient List

A dog food label's ingredient list does not indicate the quality of the ingredients. Some manufacturers divide the ingredients to achieve a more even distribution. Corn varieties, such as flaked corn and ground corn, can be listed separately. Because whole meats contain a high percentage of water weight, the overall percentage of meat after processing is lower than appears. Meat meal, on the other hand, sounds less appealing to people but contains more meat than 'whole meats'.

While the ingredient list does not provide information about the quality of the ingredients, it does provide information about what is in the food. This is especially important for dogs who have special dietary needs or allergies, and it is also useful for owners who want to feed their dogs specific fiber, protein, and carbohydrate sources.

What is the best food for adult dogs?

Small and large breed dogs have different nutritional requirements. Because large-breed dogs are more prone to musculoskeletal issues, they frequently require large-breed dog food. Small breed dogs can choke on large kibble and have unique nutritional needs. Investigate your dog's breed to see if there are any special nutritional requirements you should be aware of.

What is the healthiest dog food for puppies?

Dogs' nutritional requirements change throughout their lives. Puppies have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs and senior dogs have unique nutritional requirements. Most dog food companies sell puppy foods that are specially formulated for each stage of a dog's life. Consult your veterinarian to determine what stage food is best for your dog.

The best food for your puppy is determined by its size and breed. Some puppies do well on both 'puppy food' and 'for all life stages' food. For puppy feeding advice, always consult your veterinarian.

What is the best food for senior dogs?

Senior dogs, usually those aged 7 and up, have different nutritional requirements. Many older dogs prefer wet food, while others may require their food to be warmed to enhance the aromas. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best dog food for an elderly pet.

What are the best dog foods for pups with special dietary needs?

Allergies, sensitive stomachs, and dietary restrictions affect both dogs and humans. It can be difficult to feed dogs who have special dietary requirements. Your best bet is to seek advice from your veterinarian on the best dog food to help with their condition.

How to Choose Between Wet & Dry Dog Food

Ingredients such as meat and grains are combined and cooked to make dry dog food. The main advantage of dry dog food is that it does not need to be refrigerated. The best dry food for your dog is determined by his or her dietary requirements. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist about the healthiest option for your pet.

Wet dog food is an excellent substitute for dry dog food. Wet food has more fresh meat, poultry, fish, and animal byproducts, as well as more textured proteins derived from grains. Although canned dog food has a long shelf life, it must be refrigerated once opened. The best wet food for your dog is determined by its age, breed, and any special dietary needs or allergies.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have more questions about the nutritional needs of your dog? Contact our Orange vets today to request a consultation for your pup.

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