Did you know that an estimated 69 million American households own at least one dog?
Despite their popularity, there are a lot of differing opinions about dog health and nutrition. As a result, many people have no idea what kind of kibble to give their canines.
Finding the best dry dog food for your furry friend is up to you as a pet owner. Doing so can be challenging, but we're here to help! Keep reading this dry dog food guide for more information.
Understand Nutrition Choices
As with human diets, numerous canine diets claim to be the best or offer more health benefits for your pup. That's why you'll notice that there are many different types of store-bought food in the pet care aisle. Let's break down the most popular dry dog foods into categories.
Generic Dog Food
Generic dog foods are usually the cheapest selection. They aren't the best choice because they contain fillers, artificial ingredients, and byproducts. They don't always identify the protein source but use words like 'meaty" or "beefy flavor" on the package.
Generally, it's best to avoid generic foods since they don't offer the same quality nutrition as other diets.
Holistic/Natural Dry Foods
Holistic dog foods come from natural, minimally-processed sources and are free of artificial ingredients. These dry dog foods are usually formulated with a specific purpose in mind, such as skin health or weight control. They use nutrient-rich ingredients that are easy for dogs to digest.
One of the market's more popular dog food labels, grain-free foods are free of corn, wheat, rice, or other grains.
Dogs still need carbohydrates to provide energy, so these foods use alternative sources. These may include potatoes, pea flour, or other fruits and veggies.
The idea of grain-free foods is to provide your dog with high-quality nutrition and eliminate fillers.
Premium Dog Food
Another type of kibble that prioritizes the quality of ingredients is premium dog food. This label ensures it's free of:
- Artificial flavors and colors
- Antibiotics and growth hormones
Unlike grain-free foods, premium dog food may contain rice or other grains. However, it's possible to find grain-free premium foods.
Veterinary Prescription Diets
Prescription diets treat specific health problems and are recommended by veterinarians, who sell the product to you directly. These foods are not the same as special-formula kibbles you can purchase in pet stores.
If your vet recommends a prescription diet, they will likely follow up on your pet's results and decide whether they can eventually switch to a non-prescription diet.
Your veterinarian can help you select a dog food that meets your furry friend's needs, even if they aren't ill. So, ask them for recommendations about diets and dog food brands!
Read Labels Carefully
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) maintains standards for canine nutrition. In most states, pet food must meet these criteria, but that doesn't make it the best dog food.
Instead, pay attention to the ingredient list on the dog food bag. It is a good sign when meat or poultry is among the first two ingredients. Meanwhile, you should avoid foods with excessive wheat, soy, and corn.
Remember that dog food labels are tricky since only some terms are regulated. That means that companies can advertise their food with specific claims without any way to back up the truthfulness of their advertising.
For example, foods labeled "premium" and "gourmet" are not required to contain higher quality ingredients and are not held to different standards than regular foods.
However, there are guidelines for natural dog foods. These must lack artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. So, if you aren't sure which food to choose, look for a natural one with ingredients you are comfortable feeding your pup.
Order Dog Food Samples
Once you've found a healthy and safe food, you'll need to ensure your dog will eat it. If your pet is picky, it may take a couple of tries to find a brand that pleases your dog's palate while providing the best nutrition.
The good news is that most dog foods come in small packages, so customers can try them out before committing to a fifty-pound bag only to find out their canine refuses to eat it.
You may also find free samples online or in stores. Choose a few and bring them home for your dog to taste.
Watch for Behavior and Health Changes
After settling on a specific food, you'll need to switch your dog's food gradually. Doing so helps avoid gastrointestinal issues. So, add a little of their new food to their meals for a few days, increasing the quantity until the majority is the new brand.
After switching your dog to the new food, keep an eye out for changes to their health and behavior. Good quality foods should lead to more energy and better digestion. If you notice your dog is sluggish or has an upset stomach, talk to your vet since this may be a sign of an allergy or that the new food doesn't agree with your dog.
Change Your Dog's Food as Needed
Dogs have unique nutritional needs during the different life stages. So even if your dog likes the food you feed them, you may have to change it over the years.
What's best for them as a puppy won't be adequate in adulthood. And once your dog is a senior, they'll need a special diet to keep them in tip-top shape.
We Can Help You Choose the Best Dry Dog Food
Choosing dry dog food for your canine friend can seem overwhelming with the hundreds of choices available. Thankfully, knowing your dog's nutritional needs can help eliminate inadequate brands, leaving you with only the best selection of foods.
If you need more help choosing dog food and treats, Pet Crates Direct can help! We offer product reviews to help you decide what to feed your pet, along with promo codes that'll help you save money in the long run!