What type of food should my dog eat?

The array of dog foods available at any grocery or pet supply store can be overwhelming, so it’s no wonder there is confusion. There are three basic classes of commercially available dog foods: generic, name brand, and premium.

Generic foods are sold in discount, warehouse, and grocery stores; they often have nondescript names or are named after the store. While the label on a bag or can of generic food may claim an adequate amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates for your dog, the real issue is the digestibility of the ingredients. Many generic foods are made of such poor-quality ingredients that they cannot provide the nutrition a healthy dog needs. Name brand foods are sold in grocery and pet supply stores, and are highly advertised.

Name brand foods provide adequate nutrition for most dogs, but many of these foods contain a lot of coloring and preservatives used to make the foods appeal more to the human consumer than to dogs. Name brand foods are easy to find, but choose a brand that has few or no cosmetic additives.

Premium dog foods are usually sold by pet supply stores and veterinary hospitals, although some have recently become available in grocery stores. Premium foods are made of high-quality ingredients and do not have a lot of added colors, flavors, and preservatives. Your dog’s body makes better use of the ingredients in premium food, usually resulting in a smaller and less odorous stool.

Choose a dog food formula that meets your dog’s needs, whether that’s a formulation for puppies, adult dogs, highly active dogs, over-weight dogs, or senior dogs. If your dog does not have a highly active lifestyle, consider choosing a lower-protein diet, such as a lamb and rice formulation. Too many dog owners feed their canine companions high-calorie, high-protein diets, and then wonder why their dog’s behavior is SO out of control. Many dog owners also ask about the difference between canned and dry food.

Dry foods are less expensive, easier to store, and easier to use, and most dogs seem to enjoy them. But many dogs also enjoy canned food, which is a good choice for elderly or sick dogs. Some owners add canned food to dry food as a treat or to stimulate a dog’s appetite. Although canned food tends to stick to a dog’s teeth and may result in more severe dental disease, a small amount of canned food does no harm, and daily brushing can eliminate that concern.