Choosing the Best Quality Dog Food

Buying the best quality dog food is an essential part of building a healthy and active lifestyle for your dog. Many commercial dog foods do not offer the best ingredients or nutritional standards despite their marketing campaigns that suggest otherwise. Pet owners should know which ingredients to look for, which to avoid, and where these ingredients are coming from. Don't buy your dog foods based on low prices or else you will get what you pay for and limit your dog's nutrition.

The Right Stuff: Ingredients To Look For

The most important ingredient for any dog, whether he is a puppy or adult, is protein. Meat provides certain amino acids to dogs that their bodies can't produce themselves. These amino acids are necessary for a healthy and balanced metabolism and can only be ingested in the dog's diet so proper nutrition is essential.

When looking for the best dog foods, check that the first ingredient on the label is a protein like chicken, lamb, turkey, beef or fish. Specific and named meat by-products and meals, such as chicken by-product or beef meal are not the best quality items but can be present later in the ingredient list. Fats and oils should also name the animal or source they come from so look for ingredients like chicken fat or sunflower oil.

Ingredients To Avoid

Carbohydrate fillers are one of the main problems with commercial dog food and can be misleading when glancing at the label. Ingredients like corn bran, corn cellulose, brewer's yeast, wheat flour and corn meal are all fillers but may be listed separately so they appear to make up a small ratio of the food. In reality there are some brands that contain less protein and more fillers once you add all the separate carbohydrate listings together.

Carbohydrates can have a part in your dog or puppy food but they should never be the main ingredients. To check what makes up most of your dog's food, look for the first oil or fat on the label; any ingredients listed before the fat or oil will be your main sources of nutrition. Corn, wheat and other carbohydrates that often act as fillers are safe for your dog but should never be one of the main ingredients due to their poor nutritional value.

Unnamed meals and by-products such as the generic term "animal meal" should be avoided, along with non-specific fats and oils like "vegetable oil" or "animal fat". Any preservatives like BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin, and sodium metabisulphite, colorings, digests and sweeteners should also be avoided.

Marketing Tricks To Watch Out For

If your puppy or dog food is called "gourmet" or "premium" you may think you are getting a better type of food. In reality, food with these terms in the name do not need to meet any nutritional requirements or contain higher quality ingredients, they are simply marketing tools. Pet owners should look for the terms "complete and balanced" which indicate that the ingredients in the food meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials requirements in a feeding trial or nutrition profile.