If you do a search on the Internet for ‘pet food Canada,’ you’ll be excused for feeling overwhelmed with all the confusing results. Whether you shop for dog food online or at physical stores, the options remain perplexing.
You know your dog’s diet is key to its health and that it’s important to choose quality dog food. But how do you choose when you’re bombarded with so many options? Apart from asking your veterinarian about the best diet for your dog, you can follow the below tips to help you choose high quality dog food.
- Consider Your Dog’s Activity Level, Age, Breed, And Reproductive Status
It’s crucial to consider your dog’s behavior, physical attributes and general health when choosing the best dog food for him. For example, puppies and lactating dogs most likely require higher calories daily compared to older dogs. In the same way, physically active dog breeds need more calories than less active ones. Choosing the appropriate amount and type of food is necessary to help your dog avoid some health problems such as obesity.
There are some brands of dog food that design foods according to specific breeds, but most companies will just cater for large or small dogs. These foods may differ in terms of kibble size, but it’s also essential that your dog can eat its food safely and comfortably.
- Be Familiar With Marketing Terms Used On Dog Food Packaging
Simple terms on food packaging can help you determine the amount of protein content in dog food. Names such as ‘chicken dog food’ or ‘beef for dogs’ may indicate that it contains around 95% of protein, excluding water content.
The term ‘dinner’ is also another indicator that means the product contains at least 25% protein. This also rings true for terms such as ‘entrée,’ ‘platter,’ ‘nuggets,’ and ‘formula.’ If the food contains other ingredients, they should make up 25% of the product.
Another thing to watch out for on food labels is the word ‘with.’ For example, it can say, ‘with cheese’ or anything similar. This means the product contains 3% of the ingredient. So, if you see a label that says, ‘Beef Dinner with Cheese,’ it means the product contains 25% beef and 3% cheese.
Lastly, words like ‘flavor’ means that the product contains only trace amounts of the ingredients.
- Read Food Product Ingredients
Product labels list ingredients based on weights. Choose dog food that lists meat as its key ingredient. Dogs eat food from both animal and plant sources. Only in rare cases should you feed a dog a strict vegetarian diet.
Meat includes skeletal muscles and tissues from the hearts or diaphragms of animals. Meat by-products include other parts such as kidneys, lungs, blood, and bones.
When looking for dog food, choose food that doesn’t list vegetables or grains as the main ingredient, because it will have low protein contents. Corn, for example, has low vitamin, mineral, and protein content, but manufacturers promote it as a good source of carbohydrates, because it’s inexpensive. Although corn may not necessarily be bad for your dog in small doses, don’t be tempted by false advertising.
- Check For Food Allergies
Before deciding to eliminate or avoid certain dog food ingredients, check if it’s necessary. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy and you decide to switch to a new diet, consulting with your veterinarian is a good idea.
If your dog has a food intolerance or allergy, some symptoms include scratching, licking of the paws, diarrhea, and vomiting. It’s best to have it confirmed by your vet before doing any dietary changes. Avoid getting into dog food trends and always consider your dog’s needs.
- Choose A Brand With Excellent Quality Control
While many dog owners are tempted to choose brands based on popularity, it isn’t the best thing to do. A good quality dog food should be designed based on science and not on trends. However, many brands eliminate an entire food group without a scientific basis and heavily market their product to fit with the current trend in dog diets.
Look for dog food brands that contain all the necessary nutrients for your pet. Choose dog food that contains a good combination of protein and amino acids from either plant or animal sources.
- Stay Away From Dog Food Trends
Again, producing dog food should be backed by scientific evidence. Unfortunately, today’s dog foods seem to be a competition over which ones contain the newest or the most exotic ingredients. For instance, some dog foods may claim that their product contains bison, which is found to be beneficial for humans because of its high protein content. However, there’s really no reason to choose bison over beef, and these are just trends that will fade over time. Unless your dog has been diagnosed with a food allergy, there’s no reason to avoid existing tested dog food brands.
- Learn More About The Brand You Choose
Now that you’ve decided on a dog food brand, it’s best to learn more about its sources. Do some research to learn more about the company making your preferred dog food. Check out the following information about them:
- Number of years they’ve been around.
- Background of people designing their dog food.
- Where they source their ingredients from, and if they grow their own plants and animals.
- The quality control steps they have in place.
- The research and testing they perform on their foods.
Established brands are still preferable over trendy dog food brands. Companies that have been around for many years are more likely to have been tried and tested by many other dog owners.
- Check The Calories In Treats
The problem with giving your dog treats is that you sometimes give too much without considering the calorie content. Remember that treats should only comprise at most 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. One reason why your dog is eating less of its regular food is because it’s getting too many calories from treats, which can possibly result to nutritional imbalances.
There are many dog food brands that provide samples or money-back guarantees. Take advantage of these and let your dog try the food before you make a decision. Once decided, it’s best to change your dog’s diet gradually and to introduce the new food little by little.
If your dog develops signs of illness, consult with your veterinarian before you make changes to its diet.