The dog food aisle can certainly be confusing – it actually reminds me a lot of the human cereal aisle. Tons of brightly colored boxes and bags, all screaming for your attention with promises of better health and nutrition. It’s challenging to cut through the hype and figure out what’s really worth your dollar – and healthy for your pooch.
Click through the read tips on selecting healthier dog food.
We feed our dogs Organix, which is made of organic, free-range chicken, organic brown rice, organic fruit and vegetable purées, as well as other healthy foods that I actually recognize (and may eat myself).
Some dog foods promote themselves as healthy but aren’t. For example, we used to feed our dogs Beneful – but the first four ingredients are ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour – really, dogs shouldn’t eat three out of the four of those items! Since switching from Beneful to Organix, our dogs’ health have noticeably improved. They are more active, and their coats are shinier. My dachshund has lost weight, and her teeth aren’t as dirty.
When studying ingredient lists, here’s what you want to look out for:
- Choose pet food that is free of wheat, corn, soy, or other fillers.
- The first four or five ingredients comprise the bulk of the dog food – at least half should be meat or meat products.
- Any grains in the product should be whole grains, such as rolled oats, quinoa, millet, brown rice, or barley.
- Watch out for preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin.
- In general, the more expensive the dog food, the healthier it’s going to be. Cheap dog food is cheap because they use a lot of inexpensive fillers instead of pricier meat.
- Consider your dog’s age, body weight, and activity level when selecting a dog food; most companies offer foods specifically formulated for puppies, senior dogs, lazy foods, and active dogs. You may need to buy two different types of dog food for two different dogs.
- When switching your dog’s food, start off by serving your dog 1/3 new food and 2/3 old food for a week. Then, gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food before switching over completely. This allows time for your dog’s digestive system to adjust.