Many premium products are on the market today, making good dog food choices an even harder decision. Along with those is a host of brands featuring inferior ingredients. Puppies require different nutrients than adult canines and senior pets have their own nutritional needs. Beyond that, owners will find soft foods, hard kibble and in-between products with various enticing flavors.
The good news is that many good dog food brands provide clear labeling with regard to age. Some take it a step further to address specific health issues such as kidney function and weight. Vet-specific dog foods, purchased only at a professional facility, offer customized canned and dry diets for animals of every age. On top of that, organic products and raw diets are additional options.
Choices are still not simple. Different breeds have specific recommendations as well. Smaller canines that are highly active may require a higher calorie food. Some breeds with known allergies or sensitivities may need to avoid corn and pork products. Products formulated for larger breeds may include nutrients to enhance bone structure. Some dogs will simply display their own taste preferences. A first rule of thumb is to start with the best type of product you can afford. That means a look at the ingredient list, which is also a reflection of quality. It should lead off with one or more proteins such as chicken, beef or turkey. Eggs, vegetables and fish near the top also are a good sign. Grains, minerals, fiber, fats and vitamins should follow.
Some debate exists whether to feed canned, semi-moist or dry food. Again, that depends on the animal. Dry foods help keep teeth in better condition but may not be the best for aging animals. Canned foods offer more bulk and may be easier for dogs with urinary issues to digest. Semi-moist foods tend to contain more sugars and may be best served as treats.
Active breeds require a higher caloric content food. Known health issues should also affect the food selection. Beginning early with foods that contain preventative ingredients may reduce the risks of related conditions in later years.
A really good dog food means one that is best for your pet at its particular stage in life, not simply a general good dog food that comes with a recommendation. With age, adjustments may require subtle or major changes in diet choices. The right feeding routine to maintain perfect weight, balanced with proper nutrients, will help keep a pet healthier and happier much longer.