Selecting an appropriate dog food for your pet can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. “What brand is the best?” “Is this the right food for my dog?” With so many different brands, flavors, fad diets and rumors about dog food, it can be easy to lose track of what’s important for your pet. We are here to help sort out the confusion!
Talk to your Veterinarian:
Simply talking to your veterinarian about what food is appropriate for your pet is a great place to start. They will talk to you about your pet’s individual needs or requirements and what to look for in a diet. Depending on the dogs weight and size, they may adjust the amount your pet is being fed to ensure they are the proper weight. If your dog has a medical condition then there are a multitude of diets that can help manage diseases. Remember that there is no perfect dog food. Each animal has its own individual dietary needs for each life stage.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes nutritional standards for pets. This ensures for a complete and balanced diet. Pet food companies that bare the AAFCO statement formulate their foods for the specific life stage and nutritional need of your pet. Quality pet food brands will have the AAFCO statement somewhere on the bag. The AAFCO statement is often small and can be hard to find, so if you have any doubts bring the food in to your veterinarian to take a look!
How old is your pet?
Puppies’ nutritional needs are very different than an adult or senior dog. Active growing puppies require nutrients in different quantities and ratios compared to mature adult dogs. High calorie food formulated for puppies can lead to obesity if fed to adult dogs. So make sure that when purchasing a dog food you are getting one that is formulated for the dog’s life stage.
How much does your pet weigh?
It is never a fun topic to discuss, but if you noticed that your pet has put on a couple of pounds since his or her last vet visit, it may be a time to assess how much food your pet is being fed at home. Often products will provide a feeding table on the side of the bag allowing us to see how many cups the dog needs according to his or her weight. It is important to remember though that these feeding tables are only guidelines, and that the feeding should be adjusted according to the pet’s lifestyle.
What’s in a cup?
Often times “a cup” of food at home is a full Newks cup, and this far exceeds the actual size of “one cup” of dog food. Ensuring the correct amount of food is being given, in addition to the type of food, is very important. Using a measuring cup to feed your dog will simplify this process.
Talking to your veterinarian about your pets ideal weight can help you gain knowledge of what your pet should weigh. A weight loss plan (or weight gain) can be put together by your veterinarian, which will include total amount of calories that should be eaten in one day.
Ignore Fad Diets
“Boutique” diets have gained a lot of popularity recently. These boutique diets include labels such as organic, holistic, grain free, raw, and low carb diets. Focusing on nutrition is important when selecting your dogs food, try to ignore these flashy words. There are no regulations concerning what is considered an “organic” or “holistic” dog food. So any company can freely use these terms without any definition.
In summary, select a dog food that is appropriately labeled for the pet’s species, life stage, and condition. Follow feeding directions at home to ensure they are not being fed too much, or too little. Always look for the AAFCO statement on products and avoid flashy new diets. We are always here to answer any questions you have!
Dr. Ben Gregorio
University Veterinary Hospital