There are 72,114,000 dogs in the United States, according to the 2007 census. With over 72 million dogs in a sales demographic, you can see why there are so many different types and varieties of dog food. The dog food industry definitely has some competition.
With so many different dog food companies vying for your dog food dollar, how do you know which dog food to choose to keep your dog healthy? Do you choose dry, moist, or a combination of both? High protein, low protein, other nutrients, what exactly do you look for?
You want the best for your dog that your money can buy. You want to keep your dog healthy and satisfies his hunger at the same time. What do you do? Do you go with what everyone else is buying? Do you ask your family and friends?
THE DOG, THE DIET, THE FOOD.
The real issue when choosing a dog food for your dog is that every dog is different. I am not just talking about breeds, though they differ to, but two dogs of the same breed may not even have the same eating habits. There is no single silver bullet cure unfortunately.
So to find the right dog food to keep your dog healthy, you are going to have to do a little detective work.
Breed. Start with the type of dog you have. Obviously a small lap dog is going to have different requirements than say, a Great Dane. Size is a large factor in energy levels and digestive systems.
Age. Puppies are growing and require lots of good stuff to help them grow and to keep their energies up. They should be feed small amounts many times through the day just like a baby. In the dogs prime, say 3 years old to about 6 years old, they may have a very healthy appetite at each feeding, but only eats maybe twice a day. On the other hand the older adult is not running after everything he sees anymore and like the "early bird special" older humans, they eat earlier in the day and not so much. Then bed time is much more craved than a bowl of food after 7pm. Just saying.
Activity. Is your dog one of those hyper sort of dogs that sees to be able to run all day long until they collapse at the end of the night? Or do you have a dog like mine what great ambition is to stretch after laying on the bed all morning to walk 20 feet and go lay down on her favorite chair until she is hungry or has to relieve herself.
Stage in life. Sort of like age, but much more specific and maybe not taking. Things like growth spurts, recovering from an injury, recovering from a major surgery, extreme hot day, pregnancy, nursing, dieting, training, change in location like vacation or having to stay at a kennel, and other things that are a major change in their normal routine, but is only temporary.
WHAT DO I LOOK FOR?
Even though every dog is different, there are some basic ideas to sort of use as a guideline. You want to pick a high quality dog food. You will know it is high quality if while reading the nutrition facts, you are seeing some pretty high numbers. One thing to look at is serving size when doing the comparisons.
What you are looking for is a food that will provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and some essential fatty content in the form of acids. Dog foods have varying levels of protein in them. Some have more filler than anything else. If you are around 25% protein content, give or take, it is a real good start.
Look to see if the dog food is recommended for active or in-active dogs. Most dog foods will even tell you if they are for puppies, adults, or older less active dogs. Most will also tell you if they are easier to digest for dogs of certain ages than others. An older dog may not be able to digest a food designed for dogs leaving the puppy stage and moving into adulthood.
You might even be looking for a dog food that helps a dog loose weight. Overweight dogs are a common issue in the United States. So it is no wonder that there is a whole line of diet dog foods to keep your dog healthy and save them from being overweight. Serious heart and other health conditions, including joint pain and other body issues can be associated simply to the dog being overweight.
Another point is that just because it is a much better overall deal, sometimes large bags of dog food is not the correct choice. For example, it does not make sense to buy a 50 lb bag of combination moist and dry dog food for a toy or lap dog. The chances are the food is going go bad before the little dog can get through it. On the other hand, you are going to go broke trying to buy little individual cans of moist food for a Mastiff.
If you just do not have a clue what to do. Then contact your vet. Discuss with him or her your issues and tell him or her all you can about your dog, their activities, age, weight, and other things you can think of. This will help your vet decide the best type of food for your dog. Just be leery if he only recommends a certain brand and you can only get it from his office. It does happen. And I am not saying the dog food is not a good choice, but their choice might be motivated by keeping them in money, not to keep your dog healthy.
There are several dog food brands to choose from. Even grocery stores have aisles now dedicated to pet / dog food alone. Choosing the right dog food depends on what sort of dog you have, what their activity is like, their age, and other special things going on at that time in a dog's life. The bottom line is you are going to have to do some reading of the labels, looking for around 25% protein and as many vitamins, nutrients, and digestion types. Size of the dog should be considered when purchasing the amount of dog food at one time. And finally, if you feel completely lost, then contact your vet and ask their advice as to which dog food would be best for your dog giving them any information you can to help them determine it.