Choosing The Best Food For Your Dog: What To Look For

As a dog owner, shopping for dog food proves to be the most problematic quest we inevitably face. Choosing the best food for your dog, and knowing what to look for, is as nerve racking as a trip to the dentist. But it doesn’t have to be! Armed with some well-researched facts and a few expert reference sites, you will be able to make confident choices. Likewise, ‘Rocky’ will be benefiting from the healthier choices that you’ve made. All brands claim great taste and nutrition, while many others boast either grain or gluten-free. So where do you begin? Start with a trip to your veterinarian and answer these 5 questions:

  • Do they have food allergies?
  • What are their age and weight?
  • How active are they?
  • What are their nutritional needs?

Reviewing brand claims and reading label ingredients have left me ready to pull my hair out and mentally exhausted from reading words I can’t begin to understand, much less pronounce. Unfortunately, in today’s corporate world where the “bottom line” dictates the quality more often than not, we must read and understand the complete list of ingredients as well as the brand claims and point of origin.

To help you understand those ingredients, has a comprehensive list of ingredients used in dog foods. They list what the product is and it’s use throughout the corporate world. Steer clear of foods that contain known carcinogens along with corn, wheat, and soy due to allergens and preferential concerns with genetically modified foods.

First and foremost you need to realize the claims on packaging using keywords that are highly suggestive and sales driven, including “organic” or “all natural”. What you see isn’t always what you get. Sadly, the reality is there are no regulatory commissions of any kind that stand watch over the quality of ingredients that go into our pet’s food. Ultimately, it’s up to you to safeguard the quality of food your beloved pet receives.

Educate yourself on what the Association of the American Feed Controls (AAFCO) is and the scope of their boundaries. You might be surprised to find we put far too much responsibility and trust in outside agencies rather than doing our own homework. Use common sense. The nutritional value of processed dog food is at best minimum and can vary greatly.

Feeding quantities posted on the packaging is an exaggeration perpetrated by corporations. The more you feed, the more you buy and the richer they get while your pet packs on the pounds. To help calculate what amount to feed your dog, you may use this feeding calculator. Ultimately, trust your vet to ascertain proper feeding quantities.

Lastly is the controversial Raw Diet which has morphed into several variations including commercial, homemade, frozen, and freeze dried. These may or may not include fruits and vegetables, along with added vitamins and supplements. Feeding raw is not without risk – including nutritional balance and bacterial food safety. has an excellent read on this topic.

The bottom line is vigilance and educating yourself. ‘Rocky’ trusts the wisdom of your choices. Make them count!

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