The pet food aisles can be confusing these days. In an increasingly crowded space, many pet food companies market foods with very broad terms like “Natural” and niche formulas like “Senior”. So how do you know what’s best for your pet?
As a new pet parent, or parent to a new pet, its often worth the trip to your neighborhood independent retailer or veterinarian to discuss what’s right for your dog’s unique needs. These pet experts can point you in the right direction when it comes to recommended brands and feeding regimens to try.
Read the Ingredients
Most healthy dogs thrive on a diet high in fresh proteins and other ingredients you might find in your own grocery store’s produce department. Check to make sure that the first ingredient listed is a recognizable protein such as chicken, fish, or other meat. Your pet’s food should provide a “complete meal”, meaning that it contains all of the vitamins and minerals that a dog’s body needs to maintain optimal health. When price comparing, keep in mind that your dog will typically require a lower volume of higher quality food. Check the feeding guidelines and calories to calculate the cost per meal instead of the cost per pound of food. Look for foods that use mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract, or Vitamin E as natural preservatives instead of artificially derived ingredients.
Seek Food with benefits
In addition to fresh meats, ingredients such as leafy greens, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate or raspberries indicate that the food is likely rich with antioxidants. These ingredients in addition to probiotics and prebiotics can help boost your dog’s immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help contribute to a shiny coat and help prevent itching from dry skin. Puppies and Senior pets may benefit from foods that provide these supplemental benefits. Puppies grow at exponential rates, and utilize nutrients to support the healthy bone, muscle, and brain development. Seniors also benefit from additional supplements in food, as their bodies become less efficient at absorbing and processing nutrients.
No matter what food you select, all pets benefit from the high moisture content of canned or fresh food. Any dry kibble can be greatly enhanced with the addition of a high quality canned food or fresh meat topping. Moisture helps boost nutritional absorption while also hydrating your pet’s cells, organs, and skin.
Good nutrition is the number one way to increase the health and happiness of your pet. So it’s worth the effort to select the right food!