“You are what you eat” is a popular saying derived from “Man is what he eats” and it is no different for our dogs. Therefore, in today’s article, we answer a question that we get asked a lot, “What is the best food to feed my dog?“
Dog nutrition and choosing the right dog food is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a pet owner. Feed the right food and your dog will reap the benefits, from a shiny coat, clear eyes & even improved brainpower.
Excellent nutrition can even increase your best friend’s life expectancy and reduce the risk of numerous diseases.
It’s a lot of pressure and it can be hard to know what to pick.
I often have friends ask me “what is the best food to feed my dog”, but unfortunately, the answer is not a simple one. It’s not like there is one best brand suitable for all dogs. Just like humans, every dog is SO different and what might suit one dog, doesn’t necessarily suit another.
So, rather than tell you what the best dog food is, we’ve put together some things to consider when picking food for your pooch.
Choose the Right Food For Your Dog’s Lifestage
As your dog grows and changes so do their nutritional needs.
During puppy-hood your dog should be fed a puppy specific diet, containing high-quality protein, calcium, and fat.
Find a diet with ingredients that support their digestion with added ingredients such as beet pulp or prebiotics. Your puppy’s digestion is not only immature, but it will also have its work cut out for it – with puppies who just have a knack for finding (& eating!) all kinds of things.
For example; Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food [Affiliate Link] contains Real chicken (it’s the #1 ingredient), Omega-6, Vitamins, and minerals for strong bones and is Antioxidant-rich nutritionally for a healthy immune system.
Choose the Right Food For Your Dog’s Breed
For small breed dogs, I recommend feeding a diet that is higher in protein and fat than others.
Larger dogs that are expected to reach over 25kg when fully grown should be fed a specific large breed dog diet.
Large breed dog that grows too quickly risk developing bone problems, these diets are designed to slow bone growth & reduce the risk.
Here are a selection of Small Breed Dog Foods [Affiliate Link]
Get To Know What Your Dog Likes To Eat
Chester, our Newfoundland, didn’t have a big appetite but he did eat a lot simply because of his size – 76 kilos/176 pounds. We did some research, asked our vet, the breeder, and other Newfie owners before settling on a staple diet for Chester. But then we also observed what he liked to eat.
His favorites were plain cooked pasta, rice, and the remains of our morning carrot juicer – the pulp. He loved that. With a little bit of trial and error, we also formulated his favorite homemade biscuit mix. Although if he had his way, it would have been freshly baked blueberry muffins every day.
We were very fortunate in that there was a pasta company not that far from where we lived and were able to get the “Not fit for Human consumption” stock at a very discounted price. They imported pasta in big bins and rebagged them for retail sale.
The pasta that fell on the floor was deemed unfit for human consumption but was perfect for Chester – and every other large breed dog in that area by the time we left. It was a win-win situation really, they didn’t have to pay for dumping it at the tip and we got it at a very discounted price.
Look at the ingredients
Protein should be the main ingredient in any dog food. Although your dog is an omnivore (an animal that eats both meat & fruit and vegetables), they still require a high protein diet.
Protein is essential to give your dog the energy to play, grow, and even heal!
In my opinion, the best kibble dog food [Affiliate Link] will contain protein from an animal source rather than a grain.
Keep in mind the difference between meat, meat by-products, and meat meals.
Meat is what most of us would put in front of us at the dinner table.
Meat by-products and poultry by-products are a little bit less appetizing, made up of tissue as well as organs such as liver, heart, and intestines. Although, not the most delicious sounding of ingredients this is highly nutritious and another great choice!
Meat meal and animal by-product meal are the products of rendered meat and can contain anything from hooves, blood, bone, and hair. This is then processed using heat and pressure to destroy bacteria and remove water and fat.
Meat meals are considered not fit for human consumption – which begs the question if we wouldn’t eat it, should we feed it to our pets?
Choose Food That Meets AAFCO Standards
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) set minimum standards for pet food manufacturers. In order to meet these standards, the product must be complete and balanced.
Make sure the food you choose for your pup has met AAFCO standards, this should be visible on the packaging.
Choose Quality Food
There is a range of cheap foods available for your dog, and it can be tempting to choose these.
Ingredients like cereal by-products and hulls are cheap to add in, making a bag of food appear cheaper.
In reality, foods that contain cheap fillers offer your pet very little nutritional value. Your dog’s body often needs to work harder to gain any nutrients. This means they will most likely require larger amounts of kibble.
So, although the bargain food is often cheaper for a bag, the larger volume required often causes this to be more expensive in the long run.
On the other hand, premium dog kibbles often contain highly digestible protein and carbohydrates, rather than cheap ingredients and fillers.
Being easy to digest means less work for your dog’s delicate digestive system, less food required and even less poop to pick up from the other end!
What Foods Does My Dog Need In A Homemade Diet?
Many owners choose to feed their dogs a homemade diet, with the right ingredients this can be a fantastic choice.
The beauty of homemade food is you know exactly what is going into them.
To make sure your dog is receiving all the right nutrients, keep in mind dogs are not just carnivores.
As well as meat, dogs require nutrients from a range of vegetables, fruit, and even grains.
For optimal nutrition dogs require:
High-quality protein from meat, seafood, dairy or eggs
Fat from oils, vegetables, dairy or meat
Carbohydrates from grains or vegetables
Calcium from dairy, some vegetables or even bone broth
Fiber from leafy greens and some grains
Essential fatty acids from egg yolks, fish or oils
Once you know a basic recipe, you can easily adapt it, adding different protein sources, veggies, and oils. Unlike a kibble which meets all your dog’s nutritional needs, when feeding a homemade diet your dog will need variety. So, mix it up replacing chicken with lamb or beef, brown rice, or sweet potatoes form of carbohydrates and leafy greens for fiber.
For 20 lb dogs:
• 1/4 pound of cooked, skinless chicken
• 1 cup of potatoes
• 1/2 cup of broccoli
• 1/2 cup of carrots
• 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
• 1/4 teaspoon of potassium chloride (a salt substitute)
Related article; Homemade dog treats are cost-effective, quick and easy to make
Feeding Your Puppy
As your puppy weans off their mother, and until 6 months of age your puppy should be fed three small meals daily. If your puppy is a small breed such as a chihuahua this should continue, for all other breeds move to twice daily feeding.
Choosing The Best For Your Dog
Choosing the right dog food can be daunting, but make the right choice and your dog will reap the rewards. Keeping reading our other related articles to discover more about how to provide your dog with the very best nutrition.
What Is The Best Food To Feed My Dog? is a good question, one that every dog owner should research an answer specific to their dog(s). Keep in mind that if you have multiple dogs of different breeds then each is likely going to benefit from their own unique diet/food.
However, the same applies if you have multiple dogs of the same breed that are different ages. “What Is The Best Food To Feed My Dog” is also a question, that as caring and responsible dog owners, we should be asking each year. As our dog’s age, or their lifestyle changes, so do their dietary requirements.
Full disclosure – Affiliate Links: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need really them.Tags: Diet, Dog food, Lifestyle