This is a question we all wonder about some point in our dog's life. Whether you just got a new puppy or have a dog that is getting much older, your dog's diet is one of the most important aspects to their health. Let's start by discussing your dog's diet.
The biggest things to consider when choosing a dog food are:
How old is my pet?
Does my pet have any allergies or diet restrictions?
Is my dog super active or more of a couch potato?
The biggest question to the decision is how old is your dog. If your dog is a puppy, they have different diet needs than a senior dog does. Puppies need extra nutrients and protein that seniors do not need. Make sure you are feeding your puppy a specified puppy diet until they are at least 10 - 12 months old. At this point, your puppy would be ready to transition to an adult dog food. Puppies should also have their meals divided into three meals a day. They have a faster metabolism and are much more active than adult dogs.
Senior dogs do not need as much protein in their diet, however they do need a good source of glucosamine and other important nutrients for their joints and whole health that are different from puppies. Be sure to find a senior specified dog food for your senior dog. Another thing to consider for feeding senior dogs is their weight. Any dog being over weight will shorten their life span and severely hinder their joints and love of life. Some senior dogs may need a weight management diet or lean protein in their dog food, such as chicken or fish.
The next question you have to consider when deciding on the food is does your dog have any type of allergies to certain food types or any diet restrictions to follow given by your vet. Food allergies are common for dogs. Some of the most common ones are food dyes, chicken, and grains. As a rule of thumb you should always stay away from dog food that contains dyes. These brands are just going to poorly effect your dog's skin and coat, can cause tumors, and can cause abnormal inflammation. Chicken is another common allergy. It is easy to avoid chicken protein or egg product in dog food by reading the ingredient label. Grains are probably the most common allergy in dogs, especially corn. Grains like corn are very hard for your dog to digest and can cause itching, loss of hair, dry flakey skin, and loose stools. However, not all grains are bad. Some dog's need grains. Grains such as oatmeal are ideal for some dogs.
Diet restrictions are specific instructions given by your veterinarian. If your dog has a special needs diet, there are specific instructions or things to avoid based off of what your vet tells you. Usually, restricted diets are for things like kidney or liver issues. It could also be something as simple as a gland or stool issue and your dog may need a diet that contains pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
The last thing to think about before purchasing a dog food is do you have a high energy active dog/breed, or do you have a more mellow couch potato. High energy breed examples are Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Pointers, but any dog can be high energy. These high energy dogs need a higher protein diet to keep weight on. Grain free pet foods are perfect for them. With no grain, the food usually has more protein. Be sure to check the ingredient label.
If your dog is the opposite of high energy, you still need to be mindful of what and how much you feed them. Weight can be a huge hinderance to your dog's health. Lazier dogs may need a lower protein diet or more lean protein diet such as chicken or fish. This is so they do not become over weight or eat too much.
In a nutshell, be sure to select a food appropriate for your dog's age. Be mindful of your dog's allergies or health concerns, how they react to certain foods, and what to avoid on the pet food label. Whether your dog is young or old, has allergies or health concerns, is high energy or mellow there is a perfect dog food for them if you know where to start and what to look for.