Want to know how to choose the best food for your dog? Congratulations, you are a responsible boss!
Although cost is an important factor for dog owners, most people realise that buying good quality food saves them money in the long run. Cheaper food is cheaper because food companies use poor quality ingredients. Buying a better food means choosing better ingredients that will benefit your dog’s health. This results in a decrease in visits to the vet. Since there are good foods at low cost but also expensive foods that are not up to their price, you will need to know what ingredients to look for to identify these foods. The information provided here should be valuable to help you make the best possible nutrition choice for your dog.
To learn how to choose a good food you will need to take into account some key points. So let us start!
The more you pay, the more you have – Most of the time
Even if an expensive product is not always synonymous with good quality, there is some truth in the saying “how much you pay, how much you have“. Price is often an indicator of quality. However, there is no reason to pay more than you should or for something your dog does not need. Many of us can’t afford to throw away money, especially if you have more than one dog or large dogs.
The cheapest food you find in the supermarket lane is no guarantee of ingredients you want to feed your dog. If you opt for this food the skin and coat could look ugly and greasy, not to mention possible health problems. Of course, perhaps we all console someone who has been feeding his dog this food for 20 years, there are always exceptions of dogs who eat anything and live well. But, to ensure your dog gets the best nutrition, it would be better to stay away from cheap food.
Today, most good quality foods, more so than in supermarkets, are bought online or in specialist pet shops. Here you will find a wide variety of foods but not all of them are suitable for your dog. For example, most people who have a large dog will choosedry food rather than canned food whose price per gram is much higher. Many boxes would be needed to feed a large dog. In addition, using canned food as the only food is not only very expensive but, for the owner, transportation is also problematic.
Today, some of the special formulas that are found on the market include foods for old dogs, puppies, small animals and large animals. There are also grain-free foods, with limited ingredients for dogs with intolerances, allergies or stomach problems, not to mention therapeutic, organic and much more.
Some foods are more expensive than others but choosing the more expensive is not a good selection criterion for your dog. Therapeutic foods, for example, are very expensive but are designed primarily for dogs who have specific health problems.
Dog foods are generally labelled by age such as puppies, the elderly or “for all ages“. For most dogs a maintenance diet will be fine and almost all manufacturers offer a line of maintenance foods with a good supply of protein and healthy fats. This food is intended for pets and not for extremely active or active dogs. If, for example, your dog performs some discipline and does agility exercises or lure coursing then you should opt for a “performance” food with a higher intake of protein and fat that provide the energy your dog needs.
If you have many dogs and you want to buy food in large quantities you could buy it online. It is often possible to buy large quantities of product online at a discounted price and with reduced shipping costs so that you can save money. Alternatively, your pet shop can agree to have the same price as the online retailers.
Save money by buying better quality food
Don’t be frightened by the price tag of those foods that offer a better quality of ingredients. You may have a moment of hesitation at the checkout and ask yourself if it is worth paying more. Believe me, it’s worth it! That is why:
- You will use less food: Buying quality food your dog will be able to assimilate more nutrients by eating less food. Cheaper foods have lower quality ingredients and your dog can’t assimilate them well, which means he has to eat more. When the dog has a good diet, however, he needs less food. A quality food will provide a higher nutritional intake making your dog satiated for longer. In addition, better nutrition will lead your dog to enjoy better health which can result in fewer trips to the vet.
- There will be fewer health problems: Better nutrition means better health. This applies to both humans and dogs. When you feed your dog a quality food, you are helping his health and, most likely, he will have fewer health problems. In addition, some of the ingredients found in lower quality foods are harmful to your dog, especially if used over a long period of time. The government may approve the use of these ingredients in dog food, but this does not mean that it is the food you want for your dog. Quality food leads the dog to have a beautiful skin, shiny coat, bright eyes, vitality, and small, compact stools.
There are other advantages that should lead you to choose a quality food. From less waste to better agility to a healthier appearance (soft and shiny coat) to less “waste” in your garden, and the list could go on. Find a good quality food and pay a higher price. In the end, everything compensates.
Read the list of ingredients
Okay, now we know that choosing better food is the way to go and that, while food can cost more, saving money will be in the long run. To choose the right food, you need to know what the ingredients are. Some dog food companies will increase prices to make the product look better. This is not the norm but it is better to take a few seconds to read the label. You will be able to quickly distinguish a good quality product from a lower one.
The first 5 ingredients are the ones that count the most
Your dog has evolved into a carnivore (take a look at my dog’s digestion page if you want to learn more). Among the first ingredients, preferably among the first three as the main ingredient, meat should appear. Let’s take a quick look at the different types of meat found in dog food because not all meat is the same!
Meat types in dog food
In short, these are ingredients to be avoided. Meat derivatives may contain any part of an animal. Therefore, for example, if the label contains chicken derivatives, this means that any part of the chicken can be used as feathers, beaks, eyes, intestines, etc., and that the label does not cover any part of the chicken. What is worse? They may also contain parts of sick animals or animals that have already died before slaughter. In a nutshell, meat products are made up of leftovers and waste that no one wants. I strongly suggest that we look for food that does not contain any meat products or, at least, that we make sure that the product is not among the top 5 ingredients.
Okay, now we have taken a direction! If you read something like chicken flour, lamb flour, salmon flour or any other flour on the label, you are going in the right direction. Meat elements labelled as ‘flour‘ may only contain meat. Unlike meat products, they cannot contain other parts of the animal such as beaks, intestines, horns, feathers, etc. The meal is obtained exclusively from meat, skin and bones. The reason dog foods contain this meal is because of its high content of animal proteins and fats. Meat meal is very nutritious for dogs. The biggest problem with this ingredient is that it can legally contain moribund, diseased, deformed or already dead animals before slaughter. Farms are not obliged to disclose the use of those animals in their production. In general, however, meat meal is much better than any meat product and most brands of high quality food will use good ingredients. Almost all brands use meat meal. Use your critical sense to understand which brand uses the best ingredients. That is all you can do.
If you’re in the mood to pamper your dog, you can find something that contains fresh meat. These types of meat are referred to on the label as chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, etc. These are Premium foods, called “Human Grade” because they contain ingredients from the human food chain. The main difference is that fresh meat contains up to 70% water before being cooked, while in flours it is removed before processing. This means that the final product will be less nutritious than meat meal. As long as the first five ingredients on the list contain at least three sources of meat, your dog will be healthy. It should be noted that none of the ingredients used in pet food can be labelled as ‘fit for human consumption‘ or ‘Human Grade’. These catalogs are not permitted by the FDA. However, some companies claim to use “human grade” ingredients, but the expression is used for commercial purposes. However, that claim is useful when reading nutrition claims. Other terms that have no value are “holistic” and “natural“. Any company may use these terms for their product.
Although the first five ingredients do not necessarily have to contain only meat, and probably will not, they should in any case be composed mainly of meat products, while the remaining ingredients should be grain-free. If there is any carbohydrate at the top of the list, it is preferable that it be potato (especially sweet potato), oatmeal, millet, amaranth or rice (excluding rice waste). These carbohydrates are easier to assimilate than flours or other cereals.
Ingredients to stay away from
To choose the right food you need to know what the ingredients are that we need to avoid. Many cheap foods contain ingredients that are merely fillers. Many of them are among the main ingredients. If you have decided to change your dog’s feeding, bring this list with you to the pet shop. We recommend that you find a brand that does not use the following ingredients:
Although many people have a strong aversion to cereals and carbohydrates, a low to moderate amount will not hurt your dog. They are not the cause of allergies, weight gain, diabetes or other health problems. Some dogs are allergic to wheat and cereals, but they are more allergic to beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, and chicken eggs. Dogs can become allergic to any protein and, even if we think of wheat, corn, soy and other cereals as carbohydrates, they can provide protein of plant origin. Although they are less easy to assimilate than animal proteins, they are not only cheap fillers and are not free of nutrients.
However, your dog will feel better with a low to moderate dose of cereals and other carbohydrates. If you decide to choose a wheat-free food you will find other carbohydrates in the food to compensate for the lack of traditional cereals, if for no other reason than the fact that extruded dog food (i.e. almost all dry dog food) requires grain/cereals/carbohydrates in the food to form a pasta that can be processed. In addition, from a nutritional point of view, the use of complex carbohydrates contributes to a greater sense of satiety.
Meat products may contain bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, heads, feet and feathers. Your dog may like it but it’s not the food you want for him.
It is a source of poor quality fats used to increase flavor but have little nutritional value. You should look for fat sources from natural and high quality ingredients such as poultry or chicken fat, which is naturally stored.
This is a very general term that can refer to mammalian fat or poultry fat from different sources. Once again, the origin of the ingredients must be as clear as possible.
They usually include low-quality waste from the processing of another food such as rice waste from alcohol production. Also to be avoided are foods whose label contains potato products, bran, peelings, cereal waste, wheat bran, oat shells, rice peels, peanut shells, waste from the distillation of cereals, and cellulose (chipboard particles).
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Avoid not only sugar, but also cane molasses, corn syrup, sorbitol, sucrose, fructose, glucose, glycyrrhizin, propylene glycol, and xylitol. These ingredients are used to make food more appealing to dogs. They add unnecessary extra calories and have no nutritional value. Sugars can also lead to hyperactivity, nervousness and caries.
These are unspecified animal tissues which are cooked in a broth and either sprayed onto the food or mixed directly with it. Avoid it.
Food colorants, including blue 2, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and titanium dioxide should be avoided. These are useless substances because your dog is not interested in the size, shape or colour of the food. The coloring is added to be more attractive to the human.
Some companies use it to help dogs better digest their food. Hydrochloric acid is produced naturally in the dog’s stomach to digest food. Any food that adds hydrochloric acid to its ingredients provides a clue to the poor quality of that food! Do not buy foods that contain hydrochloric acid.
Now you know how to choose food for your dog!
It wasn’t that difficult no! Now you can choose the food for your dog with more confidence! Any suggestions? Well, first of all there isn’t a food suitable for all dogs and the reason I tell you this is that you can base your choice on the list of ingredients.