Choosing the Right Dog Food
There are several things to consider when choosing the right dog food. You'll want to take into consideration his age, activity level, breed and overall health. For example, puppies have different nutritional needs than older dogs and dogs that are less active won't require the same caloric and fat intake that a more active dog will.
You will want to make sure to choose a food that will provide your dog's nutritional needs, while maintaining a healthy weight. The best place place to start when researching the best dog food is with your veterinarian. They two most popular types of food are dry dog food and a raw food diet.
Dry dog food is the most popular choice of food. It generally comes in small kibble form and price can range from very inexpensive to very expensive. Pay careful attention to the ingredients label on the food. Not all foods, generally the cheaper brands, use high quality natural ingredients. There are a few things to be looking for:
- Preservatives, Artificial Color and Flavor - Just like with humans, anything artificially added to food isn't going to be healthy for your dog. While these additives probably aren't going to harm your dog, finding a food without a lot of extras is the best. You should especially avoid foods that are labeled with chemical additives as a source of flavor. Many of these foods contain very little, if any, meat at all. Your dog needs protein and real meat is the best way for him to get it.
- Color of the Food - Natural food is going to be dull in color, with natural earthtones. Food that has noticably colored kibble is often from the addition of chemicals to add color. The more natural the food is, the better it's going to be for your dog.
- Type of Meat - Many dog food contain what's called meat by-products. By-products can be any part of the animal. You're going to want to look for food that contains "meal". Natural foods will have Chicken Meal, Lamb or Liver listed as one of the main ingredients.
Raw dog food is another type of diet to consider for your dog. Raw food is actually the healthiest food for your dog. It's what dogs eat in the wild, and it provides the best nutritional value for your dog, as well. A healthy raw dog food diets contains only natural and unprocessed ingredients. The proportions for a raw diet are typically 40% meat, 30% fiber and 30% starch. In addition to raw liver, beef, chicken or lamb, you'll want to include some vegetables and starch. Some vegetables that are a good source of fiber and starch are broccoli, carrots and yams.
In addition to these general types of dog foods, that are also special types of food for different life stages and problems. There are dog foods for older dogs, puppies, active and less active dogs, as well as weight control and organic foods. You will want to speak with your veterinarian about the best diet for your dog and choose your dog's food based on his individual nutritional needs.
For more information on your dog's nutritional needs, see our article: Choosing the Best Dog Food
This article explains how your dog's needs change throughout his life, from puppy to adulthood.