As a pet owner, choosing the best dog food for your pup isn’t a decision to take lightly. There are a number of factors to consider, and some dogs even require a visit to the veterinarian to find the food that will work best for them. If you’re not sure how to start your search, here are the 5 qualities to look for when choosing a dog food.
1. Check for AAFCO Guidelines
When shopping, check for the pet food’s AAFCO Guidelines nutrition label. If a food has this label, it means that the macronutrient ratio – the protein, fat, and carbohydrate makeup – is specially formulated to suit your dog’s needs. These guidelines are often broken down by age. For example, you’ll find certain foods for puppies, other foods for adult dogs, and some for older dogs. Like humans, animals have different nutrition needs as they age, and the AAFCO Guidelines ensure that your pet is getting what it needs.
2. It Meets Your Dog’s Specific Health Needs
Some dogs can get by on eating anything they want – including human food, scraps scavenged from the kitchen table, or any old grocery store kibble you pick up. Other dogs have more complex nutritional needs. In all cases, your dog’s food should address any health concerns that they have – or that may occur. For example, dogs with certain food allergies will need hypoallergenic food. Older dogs with weak kidneys will need food with renal support. Pups with digestion problems won’t do well on a high-fiber diet. If you’re not sure of your pet’s individual needs, speak with your veterinarian.
3. The Company is Trustworthy
In some cases, it might not be enough to grab the most promising bag of kibble and hope for the best. Not all pet food companies are created equal. If you’re doing research online, look for companies that undergo routine safety checks, who have an animal nutritionist on staff, and who cook or pasteurize all their proteins.
4. It’s Not (Too) Harsh on Your Wallet
No matter how perfect the food is for your dog, if it’s not sustainable, it’s not for you. Dogs eat a lot, and if you’re eyeing your bank account every time you go to order food online, you’re probably better off trying a different brand. Nobody should have to take out a second mortgage to cover the cost of pet care. Luckily, the pet food industry is diverse enough that there are usually comparable foods at various price points. Head to the pet store, tell the sales associate your budget and start shopping.
5. Your Pup Approves
The taste test is one of the most important aspects of finding the best food for your dog. If your dog won’t eat the food, don’t try to force them. If you have a picky eater on your hands, consider reaching out to a dog food provider. Some of these companies will send samples of their popular kibble and wet food products upon request. Veterinarians also often have free sample packages of specialty foods to try. This is a great low-cost way for your dog to try a variety of foods before committing to a 40lb bag.