✔️ Vet-approved food: “Your veterinarian knows your dog’s specific needs and can provide valuable guidance on selecting the right dog food,” Dr. Caos explains. “They can consider factors such as age, breed, size, activity level, and any health conditions in order to recommend an appropriate diet.”
✔️ Your pet’s needs and preferences: Different dogs need different nutrients, especially when it comes to those varying in age, breed, size, activity level and more. While puppy food may be formulated to support their growth, senior dog food is created to help their various needs while aging. Likewise, different preferences play a role as well. “Each dog is unique. Consider your dog’s tastes and sensitivities when selecting a food.” Likewise, different size breeds may need different diets. The American Kennel Club notes that larger breeds can be more prone to musculoskeletal problems than their small breed counterparts, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re purchasing dog food specifically for large breeds if you’ve got one, since it has a different balance of nutrients. Smaller breeds will also benefit from smaller kibble pieces since it will be easier for them to eat without being a choking hazard.
✔️ Ingredient lists: Since this will be the main source of your pet’s food and therefore energy, look closely at the ingredients. “High-quality ingredients [should be] the primary component of the dog food,” Dr. Cao says. “The first few ingredients should ideally be named animal protein sources, such as chicken, beef, or fish. Avoid foods that list vague terms like ‘meat meal’ or ‘by-products’ as the main protein sources.”
✔️ Dietary restrictions: “If your dog has specific dietary restrictions or allergies, choose a food that accommodates those needs,” says Dr. Caos. You can also figure this out by talking to your vet, getting their recommendation and monitoring your pet once you switch to a new food or brands.
✔️ Expert-formulated recipes: To ensure your pet is getting the healthiest (and tastiest) chow, you’ll want to look for brands that use board-certified nutritionists to formulate the diet. This means they’ll test for nutrient content and adequacy, and assess the food for contaminants. You’ll find that most major brands have already done this.