Good food is the key to good health and a long life for your dog, but there are dozens of dog foods to choose from. There are many different brands of dog food, with different blends for specific pet needs, different flavors, ingredients, and nutritional needs, along with wet, dry, and semi-moist foods – which one is best for your pet?
Factors in Your Dog Food Choice
Conscientious dog owners must take many factors into consideration when choosing the appropriate dog food, including:
- Age or Stage of Life: A puppy's nutritional needs are much different from an adult dog, and a senior dog has still different needs. Different foods are formulated to meet these changing needs.
- Weight Control: Just like humans may have trouble controlling their weight, so can dogs. Some foods are formulated for weight loss, while others are designed to help dogs gain weight in a healthy way.
- Activity Level: A very active dog needs more calories than a more sedentary pooch, and the proper food will give the dog the energy it needs for its lifestyle.
- Size: A dog's size is a factor in food choice, because foods designed for larger breeds typically have larger kibbles that may be more difficult for smaller dogs to eat.
- Health: Dogs with specific health concerns such as pregnancy or nursing, diabetes, cancer, or food allergies will need foods that are best formulated for those conditions.
- Ingredients: Dog food ingredients are listed on the label, and higher quality foods will list protein (fish, chicken, beef, etc.) first, and other familiar fruits and vegetables should also be included. Grains, fillers, and unpronounceable ingredients are less desirable.
- Pet Preferences: Dogs have different preferences just as humans have favorite foods. Owners should choose healthy, nutritious foods their dogs will enjoy.
- Cost: Food costs can vary greatly, and pet owners need to be mindful of their budgets when grocery shopping for their dogs. The best rule is to opt for the most expensive, nutritious pet food that will fit the budget without causing difficulties.
No matter what type of food a dog owner chooses, it is important to always keep the dog's health in mind. When switching foods, it is best to blend the pet's old food and new food together for several days, gradually changing proportions for more new food as the dog's digestive system adjusts. If carefully chosen, the dog will enjoy every meal.