Feeding the family dog used to be a simple task. Fifty years ago, the menu consisted of table scraps and maybe meat-flavored dog food. As long as the dog maintained a healthy weight, no one thought twice about the diet’s nutritional value.
Today, owners face a slew of dog food choices ranging from dry, wet, frozen, light, and senior, just to name a few. Thanks to the internet, nutritional information, as well as misinformation, is plentiful.
There has been a lot of criticism directed at commercial dog foods, especially those that are not considered “premium.” Not all commercial dog food is “bad,” nor is all commercial dog food created equal. Avoid “bargain” foods, which are low-priced products that usually contain low-quality ingredients.
Regardless of what you feed your dog, you want to be sure that necessary nutrients are included to help your dog enjoy a longer, healthier life.
Below are some helpful items to remember and consider when it comes to Fido’s food:
Choose a Nutritionally Balanced Food
Only foods that meet nutritional standards set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials for growth reproduction (puppies and pregnant or lactating females) or adult maintenance (all other dogs) can be labeled nutritionally balanced.
The label must indicate the target group. Nutritionally balanced specialty foods, such as light, senior, or breed-specific foods, must meet the nutritional requirements for at least one of these groups.
Understand Dog Food Terminology
Food with a simple name that includes one or two animal-origin ingredients (such as Chicken Dog Food) must consist of at least 95 percent of that ingredient(s). If two ingredients are named, they must appear in order of weight.
Food with a name that includes one or more ingredients plus a descriptive term such as dinner or banquet (for example, Chicken Dinner for Dogs) must contain at least 25 percent of those ingredients, with each ingredient making up at least 3 percent.
If the name includes the word “with” (for example, Dog Food with Chicken), the food only needs to contain 3 percent of the named ingredient.
Check the Ingredient List
Ingredients appear on this list in order of weight. Ideally, some form of meat should be near the top. This may be meat or an ingredient derived from meat, such as meat by-products (organs, blood, and bone), meat meal (meat processed by rendering, which removes fat and water), or meat and bone meal (rendered meat and bones).
Understand Marketing Tactics
Manufacturers are aware of who buys dog food. Therefore, they create products with delicious-sounding names and ingredients, such as bacon, cheese, and steak. Some use only human-quality ingredients.
There is nothing wrong with these practices, but they do not mean the product is more nutritious than one with a less appetizing name or ingredients.
To find out how your dog’s food rates go, check out Dog Food Advisor.