Q. What is a good dry dog food to feed?
A. With hundreds of different brands, types and flavors it can be very difficult deciding which diet is best for your dog. The very fact that there are so many on the market shows there are many options and opinions. Below is my opinion on how to determine what is a good dry dog food.
First look at the label on the pet food for a nutritional adequacy statement from the AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials. If the food contains this statement you can be assured that the food at least meets basic nutritional requirements for your dog.
Next review the ingredients. A dog food package with “natural” or “holistic” stamped on it means nothing as there are no regulations in place to define these terms. So sifting through the ingredients is vital.
The key to your decision on choosing which kibble to you’re your dog (assuming your dog is healthy) should be to select a meat-based diet which is closer to a dog’s natural ancestral diet. You will want to see the first ingredient listed to be a one-word meat source like chicken, beef or salmon.
The next ingredient will probably be a meat source followed by the word “meal” such as “chicken meal” or “turkey meal.” It is considered a relatively high quality protein source.
Ingredients three and four should be vegetables and a whole grain source such as brown rice, oatmeal or barley. If the food is grain-free then whole fruits may be a portion of the ingredients. Avoid corn, cornmeal, soy and wheat. They can be difficult for dogs to digest.
The fat source should be from an identifiable source such as chicken fat.
Especially stay away from foods that say meat, animal by-products or animal digest without specifying what kind of meat or animal is used.
Avoid the chemical preservatives BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate, which have been shown to cause health problems in dogs. It is more sensible to find a dog food that is preserved with vitamin E and C, often called tocopherols.
It certainly can be confusing to figure out the quality of a dog food you are considering, but with practice you can become quite proficient at understanding the nutritional value of the food by reading labels.
Not every dog does well on the same food. You will want to feed a food your dog likes, keeps his coat shiny and skin healthy, along with keeping him at a good weight and energy level.
An interesting site to check out is dogfoodadvisor.com, where you will find ratings and reviews on different dog foods. You can also sign up to be notified by email of any dog food recalls at no charge.
Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected].