When deciding which dog food product to buy, ask yourself these questions:
1 – Is It Appropriate for Your Dog’s Life Stage?
Is your pet still a puppy? Is she a nursing mother, an adult dog, or a senior dog? The nutritional needs of dogs vary according to which life stage they’re in.
Most dog food makers create dog food products that are specially formulated for each life stage. Make sure to read the label to be sure you’re picking the right one.
2 – Does It Have the AAFCO Statement?
Look at the label and find the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement. It should say a particular dog food product “is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles” or “provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance for all life stages (or for adult dogs, or puppies).”
This means the product has gone through analysis and quality control and AAFCO has certified that it meets the necessary requirements to provide your dog the nutrition it needs.
3 – Is Meat in the Top Three Ingredients?
The ingredients in food products, including dog food, are listed in order of predominance or quantity.
That said, look for dog food products that list meat or meat meal as one of the first three ingredients, since dogs need plenty of meat in their diet.
On the other hand, skip products that list corn, potatoes, or non-meat ingredients as the top three ingredients.
4 – Does It Contain Ingredients My Dog is Allergic To?
Read the label to make sure the product doesn’t contain any ingredient your dog is allergic to.
If you don’t know what your dog is allergic to yet, check for any of these after a feeding:
- constant paw-licking
Consult your dog’s veterinarian to confirm.
5 – Is the “Best By” Date Far Ahead?
Ideally, pick a product with a “best by” date that’s 10 to 11 months away. This means the product was made just recently.
If this is not in your options, at the very least, go for one that’s still good for another six months.
6 – Does It Contain Whole Ingredients?
Just like our food, dog food products that contain whole fruits, vegetables, and, grains are healthier for dogs too. The less processed these ingredients are, the more nutritional benefits your dog reaps.
Don’t worry if you see “fractions” in the ingredients rice bran or tomato pomace, especially if they’re near the bottom of the ingredient list.
7 – Does the Product Specify an Animal Source?
Seeing “meat” or “meat meal” on the ingredients is not enough. High-quality dog food products clearly specify the source, whether it’s beef, lamb, pork, or chicken.
8 – Is This Dog Food Good for My Dog’s Breed?
You can’t expect small-sized dogs to have the same nutritional needs as larger breeds.
Different breeds mean different body size, different energy, and different daily activities. Some dogs are naturally highly active; they need more calories to keep up with the energy they burn.
Other dogs are more on the sluggish side, so they don’t need as many calories. Also, small dogs can have trouble eating food for big dogs.
This is why there are size-specific dog food products.