How to choose the best dog food | How do I choose good dog food
When buying a product for your dog, the first question you need to answer is: what kind of food am I looking for? Not all dog foods are the same and it is important to know their characteristics and differences to juggle the countless offers on the market. Only in this way will you be able to understand if you are choosing the best food for your dog’s well-being.
Let’s find out together, in this guide signed by dogfoodmanager and developed in collaboration with our nutrition veterinarians!
The different types of dog food on the market
There is no absolute right or wrong food, but therefore let’s clarify and see the differences between different types of pet food.
Complete or complementary
The first fundamental difference to identify is to check if the product you have in your hands is:
- Complete food: a daily ration it provides all the nutrients in the quantities and proportions required by the dog. This can be dry, semi-moist, or moist dog food.
- Complimentary food: it is not sufficient to satisfy the daily nutrient ration required by the dog. It is, therefore, to be used in combination with other complete foods. These can be dry, semi-moist, or moist foods but also snacks.
Dry, humid and semi-humid
Once this difference has been ascertained, the second aspect on which your search for the best complete dog food should be oriented is the concentration of water inside. On the market you will find 3 types of different products:
Dry food contains less than 14% water. For this type of food, we mean the croquettes.
pros and cons
- Practicality of administration and storage;
- Nutritionally more concentrated than other types of food;
- They have no particular disadvantages.
Semi-wet food contains between 14% and 34% water. This type of product comes in the form of soft dog food.
pros and cons
- Maintains aroma better than dry food;
- Mix the characteristics of dry and wet food;
- It has a shorter shelf life and leads to the proliferation of molds.
Wet food contains more than 34% water. It is the most popular type of food for dogs.
pros and cons
- It has a more intense aroma than the crunchy and high palatability;
- Less practical to store;
- Less nutritious and less economical at the same weight.
Unless you get specific directions from your vet, all the types of dog food described above are equally valid.
The importance of meat in dog food
There are three types of preparations in dog food with which the meat is used in the production of kibble: fresh meat, dehydrated (or dried) meat, and meat meal (often present with wording similar to “meat and derivatives”). If dehydrated meat is always present as an essential component for making dog food, the first and last are optional and indicative of the quality of the product.
Products with fresh meat
- They contain a greater amount of protein
- They are more palatable and digestible
- They do not contain meat meal
- However, they contain dehydrated meat
(fresh minced and dehydrated meat)
Products without fresh meat
- They often contain meat or fish meal of dubious quality and origin
- High allergenic value
- They have a lower nutritional value
- Protein quality is highly compromised
The diet of our furry friends should be based primarily on food with a good percentage of fresh meat or fish, and only secondary to cereals and vegetables. Choose a low-protein food only on the advice of your veterinarian nutritionist or if your dog suffers from kidney disease. Conversely, high-protein food is suitable for working or particularly active dogs.
What to watch out for
A guide to choosing dog food well should also take into account possible risk factors and slightly more particular case histories. Let’s see the most common ones together.
How to choose the best dog food for allergies
If your dog suffers from allergies or is particularly sensitive to one or more ingredients, it is even more important that you refer to clear labels with ingredients written explicitly and in detail. Then there are some characteristics and wordings on which you should orient yourself to further reduce the risk of triggering symptoms of intolerances.
- Single protein products: Choose a single protein product if your dog is allergic to a specific type of meat (such as chicken) and you don’t want to risk contamination.
Warning: when we talk about monoprotic food, the wording refers to the fact that the product contains a single protein source of animal origin. A small part of proteins also derives from cereals and legumes, whose starches necessarily serve as fillers to make it possible to extrude the croquettes. However, always keep in mind that most allergies and intolerances are caused by low-quality proteins.
- Grain-free products: choose a grain-free (or grain-free) product if your dog is intolerant to them.
Warning: grain free does not mean starch free, as starch is an essential component to produce kibble.
How to choose the best puppy food
The guidelines to follow are always the same to recognize quality products. The only further precaution that is added to the list is to choose a specific food for puppies (or puppy food), which is designed specifically for this phase of the dog’s life, in which a puppy’s needs are very different from those of an adult dog.
In addition to the maintenance needs, that is the energy necessary to carry out normal physical activities such as eating, playing, and running, it is also necessary to consider the growth needs, aimed at providing the puppy with the necessary nutrients to make it grow in health and allow it to develop in the synergy of bones and muscles proportionate to each other.
Consequentially, puppy food should always be more caloric and higher in protein than adult dog food. If we are talking about croquettes, these will also have to be smaller to be suitable for their mouth and teeth.
The importance of knowing how to read the label
Apart from the information on the analytical composition of the food, provided for by Regulation (EC) No. 767/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, the parts that are of primary interest to us are:
- The composition of a product shows the list of ingredients, nutritional additives, and other substances that make up the croquettes, in descending order of quantity.
- The analytical components, on the other hand, are nothing more than the nutritional table in which the percentages of proteins, fats, crude fiber, and crude ash are indicated. Don’t be frightened by this last rumor: crude ash is simply the minerals and trace elements present in the finished product.
A clear label with specified ingredients is a consumer-friendly label. This is why our labels are clear and easy to read, so you can always be sure you know what you are feeding your pet.
Croquettes, Homemade Diet or Barf Diet?
As in any area, dog nutrition schools of thought evolve and increase over time. Before deciding a priori which is the “correct” option, it would be right to question the reasons why a dog should follow a certain type of diet rather than another, without following the fashions of the moment.
They are the most common and easiest choice for pet parents around the world. Let’s summarize the main characteristics of the croquettes:
- They are a complete food, they do not need additions (unless indicated on the package);
- They are easy to administer and store;
- They represent a safe and balanced choice, also recommended by veterinarians.
Even the home diet has its pros and cons, let’s see what they are:
- It has the advantage of being more genuine and natural than industrial food;
- Foods undergo less processing and better maintain the qualities and nutritional principles of natural food;
- On the other hand, without the advice of a nutritionist veterinarian, the risk of causing the dog to suffer from nutritional deficiencies is very high;
- Preparing and managing meals is more laborious ;
- Economically, it is more expensive.
The Barf Diet or diet based on “raw food and biologically appropriate for the digestive system of dogs” is the latest trend of the moment, especially among the owners of large dogs. Conversely, it is often criticized by veterinarians for the following reasons:
- It has a high risk of being nutritionally unbalanced
- Its “being more suitable for dogs” has no scientific validity ;
- The administration of raw meat involves the risk of salmonellosis and in general a lower sanitary safety.
The tailor-made diet
Whatever type of diet you choose for your dog, we believe it is essential that it is tailored to his needs and requirements. Relying on a veterinarian nutritionist is always the best choice to be sure not to make mistakes and to feed your dog in the most appropriate way for him. Industrial nutrition is not necessarily standardized and the same for everyone.
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