How To Choose Dog Food

Published: 20 Apr 2024
Kathy R. Conner
Kathy R. Conner
Kathy is a licensed veterinary surgeon and writer in Miami. With over 20 years of experience in deal with pets and small animal, she hopes to share her knowledge on what she learned throughout her life to all animal lover. On her free time, she likes to attend Yoga and Meditation classes.
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Our articles are meticulously composed and vetted by veterinary professionals, guaranteeing precision and pertinence by consulting credible sources, chiefly scientific journals and veterinary manuals. Prior to publication and major revisions, we thoroughly validate the factual correctness, providing well-researched content rooted in veterinary science.

Are you on the hunt for the ideal dog food for your furry friend? Do you find yourself swamped by the sheer multitude of choices out there? Even though you can ask for suggestions from others, you may notice that their advice frequently clashes.

Luckily, this article provides everything you need to know when it comes to choosing the right dog food for your furry friend. And here are 8 ways to help you decide.

1. Consider Your Dog’s Age, Breed, Activity & Reproductive Status

Your dog’s age, breed, activity level, and reproductive status is an important factor in identifying the best dog food for them. For instance, lactating dogs and puppies need more calories compared to older dogs. Similarly, dogs with high activity levels require more calories than the ones that do not do excessive activities at all. Some dog food is breed-specific, which means that small breed pups require small breed dog food.

A Dog Licking Its Owner's Face

2. Learn About Nutrition Choices

Although your dog’s veterinarian is the most reliable source of information for your dog’s diet, you can also try to look for insightful and reliable information through the internet. You can browse through dog food reviews, research journals, and other websites with reputable sources to know the pros and cons of each brand since not all pet foods are created equal.

Essentially, the commercial dog food that you may incorporate in your dog’s diet boils down into six distinct categories:

  • Generic dog food
  • Whole food cooked diet
  • Prescription diet
  • Premium dog diet
  • Holistic commercial diet
  • Raw diet

Commonly, most commercial diets are available in wet, dry, or dehydrated foods. You may individually research these variations for your new dog, or you may immediately ask your dog’s veterinarian to cut all the legwork.

A Dog Sniffing A Banana

3. You Get What You Pay For-Most Of The Time

The popular belief that you need to buy the most expensive dog food to ensure you give your dog the best dog food available may not be totally correct but there is still a grain of truth to it – most dog foods are expensive for a reason.

Price can be a strong indicator that the dog food is manufactured of high quality. While you can spend all the time looking at the labels whenever you choose dog food brands, you may simply identify the tier of expensive dog food brands and from there, you can choose what pet foods suit your dog’s food requirement. Typically, most dog owners can be very thrifty, so remember that you do not have to pay for food that your dog does not need or pay more than what you have to spend.

A Pooch With A Grain-Free Treat In Its Mouth

If you want to provide your dog the best nutrition, you keep your standards high and away from any commercial dog food. Depending on your dog’s preferences, you must avoid at all costs, buying wet dog food or dry dog food that is made from inexpensive ingredients that do not meet the daily nutritional needs of your dog. Although these low-priced dog food may lessen the monthly cost you allot for your furry friend, they’ll take a toll on your dog’s overall health and wellbeing – bad skin, dull coat, poor skeletal muscle development, and numerous health-related issues are just a few of the adverse outcomes.

Good dog food of a higher quality that also has expensive prices is usually sold in pet stores, pet food specialty stores, and even on the internet. The dog food that can be found in these stores is quite different from what you see in the groceries. So, the next time you buy the next month’s dog food supply, try going to the pet store, and there you will find a variety of selections to choose from.

A Watermelon To Refreshen Your Dog

4. Save Money By Purchasing Better Pet Food

As mentioned above, choosing the right dog food with the highest quality can be very expensive but do not let the price tag stop you from giving what’s best for your furry friend. Purchasing a pet food with high-quality ingredients and an expensive price is better than buying its inexpensive counterpart in the groceries because of the following reasons:

You’ll Use Less

Buying food for your dog with higher quality means that your dog will be able to absorb more nutrients from feeding your dog with a lesser portion of food. On the other hand, cheaper dog food brands that are manufactured using low-quality food ingredients, have no quality control and are simply fillers that may cause your dog not to fully digest the food and this necessitates you to feed your dog more quantities to meet the daily nutritional requirements.

An Example Of An Obese Dog

Feeding your dog with quality dog foods will not only ensure that your dog meets its daily nutritional needs but it will also have your dog feel satiated for longer periods and won’t require you to give greater portions of your dog’s food. Giving your pet quality foods with a high concentration of nutrients will also cause you not to go for a vet visit very often, saving you more bucks in the long run.

You’ll Have Fewer Health Issues

Similar to the concept of human consumption, dogs that eat better food tend to have better health. If you feed your dog with dog food having quality ingredients, then you will be certain that you are giving at least your dog’s minimum daily nutritional needs and in return, your dog will less likely acquire any health-related issues. From a long-term perspective, dog foods manufactured with low-quality ingredients may lead to detrimental effects on your dog’s health.

A Relaxed Dog

5. Read The Ingredients

Reading the label won’t hurt you as much as it would to your pet if you give them the wrong food that isn’t tailored to its needs. It is best that you give a good look at the labels to confirm whether the dog food is of high quality or not.

Types Of Meat In Dog Food

Meat By-Products

If you happened to notice this type of ingredient as the food’s primary source of protein, then that isn’t high-quality dog food. Basically, meat by-product is anything from an animal protein source to organ meats that aren’t consumed by humans. This may include beaks, animal intestines, eyeballs, feet, or feathers.

Another reason why you need to avoid a product label containing animal byproducts is the uncertainty of these protein sources. Some unregulated dog food company uses animals that died even before slaughtering due to unknown reasons. Look at the back of the label and see whether it contains no meat by-product or at least, it isn’t included in the top five ingredients.

Feeding My Two Dogs With A Corn-Free Diet

Meat “Meal”

If you see this meat product in your dog’s food as the major component or one of the top ingredients used, then you are in the right direction. Meat meals have variations like chicken meal, beef meal, lamb meal, or fish meal. Unlike meat by-products, meat meal holds a significant nutritional value as it only includes bones, skin, and real muscle meat. However, this may also contain animals that are dying, deformed, or had died even before the slaughtering and unfortunately, dog food companies are not required to disclose this kind of information. Nevertheless, having this ingredient is far better than having meat by-products in your dog’s diet as the latter does not meet the nutritional needs of your dog.

Whole Meats

Having this as the top ingredient of your dog’s food can simply mean that your dog is greatly privileged. This type of meat included in the dog food can simply be labeled as chicken, beef, etc. These ingredients are human grade which means that these may be considered safe for humans. If the food claims that it is “chicken flavor” or “beef flavor” there need only be trace amounts of chicken or beef—just enough for a dog to detect the taste. One major difference between whole meats and meat meals is that the former contains more moisture content than the latter and contains lesser nutrients as well.

An Example Of Food Dogs Should Avoid

Dog Food Ingredients To Avoid

Choosing the right food for your dog also requires you to look out for the following ingredients that can either cause health problems or cannot suffice for the different nutritional needs of dogs.


Grains like wheat, soy, and ground corn, in large amounts, can cause indigestion as dogs can’t effectively digest plant-based protein as easily as animal protein. It may also cause a food allergy to dogs with food sensitivities. It is suggested that you go with a grain-free diet as this may lessen the likelihood that your dog becomes intolerant to foods that have grains. A grain-free diet will also ensure that your dog receives patient and calories from quality ingredients and not from grains.

Beef Tallow

This ingredient is considered a low-quality fat source utilized to enhance the beef flavor in dog food but does nothing to improve the nutritional value of the dog food.

Animal Fat

This is considered as a term for a generic ingredient that comes from unknown sources of mammal or poultry fat. As much as possible, stay away from anything that doesn’t clearly specify where it is sourced.

Food Fragments

You want to avoid this ingredient as it is the term used for low-quality leftovers from food manufacturing processes – stripped with all nutrients that your dog needs.

Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

This ingredient does great in enhancing your pet’s food but does nothing in improving the nutritional value of the meal. Additionally, it adds unnecessary calories that may lead to obesity or weight gain.

Animal Digest

This ingredient is from an unspecified animal part resource that is boiled down into a broth and mixed into the food. The unknown source makes it very suspicious and should be avoided at all costs.

Artificial Coloring

Coloring is extremely unnecessary for your pet’s food which is added to it just to make it appealing to humans rather than pets.

Hydrochloric Acid

Having this substance mixed in the dog food is unnecessary since the dogs themselves produce it in their stomach.

This Vegetable Helps In Providing A Shiny Coat In Dogs

6. Ask People About Dog Food

Once you did your own research with diligence, you may ask other experienced pet owners and consider their suggestions regarding the best food for your dog. You may begin asking your dog’s vet regarding the balanced dog food for your pet as he knows exactly what suits your dog – from sensitive stomachs, digestive system issues, up to allergies that your dog has. You may also want to ask other experienced individuals like trainers, groomers, breeders, etc. The local pet supply stores may also suggest a quality product the is fit for your allotted budget and your dog’s different nutritional needs.

However, you may experience conflicting ideas since some people prefer a specific product that other people don’t. There is no need to disregard this information as you may research them yourself. Put in mind that not all suggestions are fit as the best food for your dog.

Chicken Dinner Treats In Can

7. Feeding Your Dog

Some dog food companies provide samples of their dog food. You may allow your dog to leisurely choose for itself the most appetizing food for your pup since different dogs have different tastes. Some of your choices include dry food (dry kibble) or wet food, that has corresponding nutritional value. After choosing the food, you have to gradually transition from the old food to the new diet that you and your dog have chosen. Remember that feeding your dog during one specific time for you to create a routine and for at least four months, you’ll notice a change in its attitude and overall personal appearance.

Colorful Treats Without Grounded Corn And Other Ingredients

8. Your Dog’s Diet Over Time

Experts recommend feeding your dog with rotating diets every around six months especially when you feed your dog with commercially produced pet food. In this particular method, people feed their dogs with varying food as your dog may feel bored with having the same food over and over again. Additionally, it is also believed it can result in allergies and other health-related issues. Remember that as your dog grows, it may require you to change the dog’s diet because of circumstances like needing specific formula for specific breeds (small or large breeds) as well as in accordance to life stages that your dog undergoes.

Thinking How Much Food Nutritional Adequacy Statement Should Be Given To Dogs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the healthiest food to feed your dog?

The healthiest dog food to feed your dog depends on their age, breed, activity levels, and reproductive status. It is important that you give them adequate nutrition to keep them from any nutrient deficiencies.

What are the top 10 best dog foods for dogs?

According to experts and veterinarians, the top 10 best dog foods for dogs include the Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie, Instinct RawBoost Mixers, Orijen Original Dry Dog Food, Organix Chicken & Oatmeal Dry Dog Food, Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Canned Dog Food, FreshPet Fresh from the Kitchen, The Farmer’s Dog, Only Natural Pet MaxMeat Air-Dried Food, Rachel Ray Nutrish SuperMedleys, and Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food. [1]

What foods can you not give to your dog?

The foods that you cannot give to your dog are the following:

  • Chocolate
  • Bacon And Fatty Meat
  • Salty Foods
  • Garlic And Onions
  • Milk, Cheese, Ice Cream, And Other Dairy Products
  • Raw Meat, Fish, And Eggs
  • Candy, Gum, Peanut Butter, And Baked Goods
  • Grapes And Raisins

To learn more about the foods that are safe and harmful to your pet, you can seek advice from your veterinarian.


Choosing the best dog food requires knowledge and confidence. Always remember that no food is appropriate for all dogs of different life stages and breeds. Knowing all the information above would help you choose wisely for your dog’s sake. Always take note that dogs are like humans they also need nutrients to keep themselves going through the day and as pet owners, it is your responsibility to give what your furry companion needs.

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