How to Find the Right Food for Your Dog

With countless options at the pet store, choosing the right dog food can sometimes feel overwhelming. Nonetheless, selecting the proper diet is really important for your dog’s health and happiness. The right nutrition helps to keep their energy levels up, their coat shiny, and their body in ideal condition.

Evaluate Ingredients

A dog food’s ingredients directly affect its quality and nutritional content. To that end, here’s what to look for on those nutrition labels:

  • Whole, named protein sources like “chicken” or “beef” listed as the first few ingredients provide essential amino acids for strong muscles.
  • Healthy fats are also crucial for energy, skin/coat condition, and nutrient absorption. Watch for quality oils like chicken fat or fish oil.
  • Avoid ambiguous terms like “poultry byproduct meal” which may contain low-quality ingredients.
  • Check for nutrient-dense produce, legumes, and whole grains like brown rice for fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Avoid artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, and hard-to-pronounce additives if and when possible.
  • AAFCO labeling will ensure the food meets standards to be complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage.

Food Types to Consider

You’ll find many dog food types lining the aisles. Each variety has potential pros and cons:

  • Dry kibble is the most affordable and convenient choice but can be low in moisture. Rotating different protein sources helps prevent allergies.
  • Wet canned food provides more hydration, though it’s messier and costlier. It is higher in protein but lower in nutrients than kibble.
  • Fresh and frozen dog food manufacturers produce minimally processed options using human-grade ingredients, which require refrigeration.
  • Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods have high protein levels and a long shelf-life when properly stored.
  • Air-dried foods feature gently baked ingredients to preserve more nutrients than standard kibble.
  • Raw diets strive to mimic a dog’s ancestral eating habits, though they do carry some food safety risks if mishandled.
  • Home-cooked meals allow you to customize your pup’s diet from scratch, but getting complete nutrition is challenging without guidance.

Try mixing different types together, like kibble with freeze-dried toppers or a dollop of wet food mixed in to combine the benefits.

Accommodating Picky Pups

If your canine companion turns their nose up at every bowl you serve, you may have a finicky pup on your hands. Some strategies to tempt picky eaters are:

  • Dry dog food for picky eaters often contains savory flavors like bacon, cheese, or gravy to entice them to eat. The people at Nextrition recommend checking ingredients for flavoring from natural broths too.
  • Moisture enhancers like a spoonful of low-sodium broth or water mixed into kibble can release more aroma and flavor.
  • Food toppers provide an aromatic “sprinkle” of real freeze-dried meat, cheese, salmon oil, etc. to make the food more palatable.
  • Puzzle feeders can pique interest through engaging hunting and foraging behaviors to work for their meal.

Just be wary of heavily processed options packed with unhealthy fats, salt, sugar, and artificial additives to improve palatability.

Transition Tips

Whether because of a life stage, allergy, or just to provide variety, dogs need a gradual transition when switching to a new food type or formula to avoid tummy troubles. Here’s how:

  • Mix in small portions of the new food with their current food over the course of 5-7 days.
  • Start with roughly 25% new and 75% old, then adjust the ratio daily until fully swapped. 
  • Some dogs require a longer, slower transition period of 10-14 days.
  • If signs of gastrointestinal upset arise like vomiting or diarrhea, return to the previous diet and try transitioning again more gradually.

Conclusion

With the proper knowledge and care, you can select a nutritious, appealing, high-quality diet your canine companion will genuinely enjoy. Finding the right pup food promotes their lifelong health while keeping mealtimes happy.