You are what you eat. This is just as true for your dog. High-quality ingredients, proper balance and a good probiotic can all help your dog live a long, healthy life.
Reading the Labels
When shopping for dog food, always read your labels. Look for quality whole ingredients like chicken, salmon, carrots and sweet potato. Also, it is important to note that the first five ingredients actually make up the bulk of the food. Consider this when choosing a diet for your dog.
Beware the packaging. Many pet food manufacturers put images of whole cuts of meats, fresh fruits and veggies, and whole grains on the packaging. However, once you read the ingredient list, you may be surprised what you find.
Ingredients to Avoid
To feed your dog well, it is also important to know what not to feed. Here is a list of ingredients to avoid:
- Wheat, corn, soy, barley: These grains are among the top five food allergens for dogs. Most of them are difficult for dogs to digest.
- Byproducts: These fillers are often scraps, not muscle or organ meat.
- Undefined proteins: Some grocery store brand foods will list "animal meat" as an ingredient. This could be almost anything.
So What Are the Top 10 Foods?
There are a wide range of options, from kibble to canned to dehydrated raw. The following list are 10 of the best available:
- Orijen/Acana: Steam-baked, high-quality ingredients with the option for two protein percentages.
- The Honest Kitchen: Dehydrated raw provides optimum bioavailability of nutrients. They boast "human testing" of product line.
- SoJos: Family-owned company. Another terrific dehydrated raw option.
- California Natural: A great kibble and canned food line with minimal ingredients for the sensitive stomach.
- Amicus: Red lentils provide an alternative to grains and small bites available for toy breeds.
- Evo: High protein, quality kibble and canned food line. Great for athletic dogs.
- Fromms: High-quality ingredients. Family-owned and -operated kibble and canned food line.
- Evangers: Single protein can line is great for stuffing food toys and supplementing a kibble diet.
- Stella and Chewy's: Freeze dried patties make feeding raw easy.
The Fine Print
Whenever selecting a new diet for your dog, it is important to consider age, breed, activity level and health. If you are ever uncertain, consult a canine nutrition consultant or a qualified veterinarian.
The Whole Dog Journal is one place to get an annual review of dog food and great articles on nutrition, including home cooking and raw diet tips.
Shelly Volsche has worked as a professional dog behavior consultant, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and a diploma in canine nutrition. She has written for "The Chronicle of the Dog" and Lucky Dog Magazine and is currently pursuing her PhD in anthropology with a focus on pet parents.