Dog owners visiting a pet mega-store can feel overwhelmed by the array of choices. Here are a few tips on what you should take into consideration when buying food for your dog.
Your dog’s age and activity level
The age of your dog and his activity level are two factors to consider when choosing his food.
Active, outdoorsy dogs need a higher percentage of protein and fat for optimal energy. As dogs age and become less active, you can lower these percentages in their daily diet.
You dog’s health
Observe how healthy your dog is. Dry skin, itching, weight gain or loss, loss of appetite, flatulence, diarrhea, and change in energy level all could be signs of medical problems, but might be related to the food not being the right one for your particular dog.
Be skeptical of manufacturers’ claims
Pet food manufacturers use clever packaging, with claims that their food will guarantee your dog a healthy happy life. They boast that their products are scientifically formulated, veterinarian approved, etc. How do you know whether one vet “approved” the brand or 100?
Most commercial dog foods contain excessive fat and protein
Some nutritionists believe that nearly all brands of commercial dog foods contain more fat and more protein than a dog really needs.
Dogs like the taste of these foods and consume more food, which means higher sales for the company. But it can also mean the dog is likelier to be overweight if kept on that diet for a long time.
You get what you pay for
Consumers are drawn to products that are lower cost but, seemingly, high quality – at least according to the marketing hype on the packaging.
Companies that skimp or cut corners on the quality of ingredients most likely do not spend the money on testing whether their foods are providing the best nutritional value or not.
A dog may have to consume larger quantities of these cheap foods in order to feel satisfied, to have their caloric needs met.
Be skeptical of manufacturers’ recommended portion size
Pet food companies also overestimate the amount of food you need to give your dog. There is usually a chart on the package that shows the recommended daily allowance based on the weight of your dog.
According to those recommendations, Rose should be fed three cups of kibble a day. However, she maintains her weight on two cups a day. The more the dog eats the more money the pet food companies make.
One approach is to take their recommendations and reduce them by, say, 20%. See if your dog maintains his weight on that amount of food or not, and adjust the quantities accordingly.
Look at the ingredients listed on the label with a critical eye
Read the ingredients on the label. They must be listed in decreasing order of weight. In other words, the ingredient with the highest concentration is listed first.
To de-emphasize an ingredient such as corn or wheat, companies sometimes don’t count all the forms of a single ingredient together.
Wheat bran and wheat flour could be listed separately, so some of the more expensive meat ingredients appear higher. The fact is, wheat is really the main ingredient.