Your dog’s age or stage of life. The nutritional needs of an exuberant,
growing puppy are quite different from those of an aging, more sedentary
pet. If you’re unsure, ask your veterinarian to advise you on what
type and amount of food your dog needs.
Your dog’s body and activity level. When choosing a food, you need
to consider whether your dog is under or overweight, and also how
active or sedentary he is. Clearly, if he is very active, or underweight,
or growing, he will need a more nutrient dense food, as well as
need to eat more often, than if he is very overweight and/or inactive.
Your dog’s health. If your dog is healthy, his nutritional needs
will be different than if he is sick, or has some ongoing health
condition, such as diabetes or cancer. Also take into account his
dental health. Teething puppies need chewing opportunities, but
an older dog whose teeth are loose or missing may need something
softer and easier to eat. Again, be sure to ask for advice from
your veterinarian if your dog has any health issues.
Your dog’s preferences. As with people, dogs are individuals and
what one dog likes, another may refuse to eat. This can be a matter
of habit or taste, but if your dog is to benefit from his food,
he has to eat it. So you will need to purchase food that your dog
enjoys. If you’re not sure, get small quantities of several different
kinds at first until you learn what kind your dog most enjoys.
Categories of food. Familiarize yourself with the different types
of dog foods currently available so that you can make an informed
choice. These include:
– Generic or "grocery store" type dog foods are packaged
under various local brand names, carried in grocery and discount
stores. While they can be adequate for feeding to your dog, keep
in mind that often these foods are made with lower-quality, cheaper
ingredients, and generally have preservatives for longer shelf-life.
– Premium dog foods are better-known brand names and can also be
found in your local supermarket, but also through your vet’s office
or pet supply store. These generally have high-quality ingredients,
but may still have some elements of the cheaper foods, such as fillers,
preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.
– Dog health food, natural food, or holistic dog food is the most
expensive, usually available only from the manufacturer or over
the internet, sometimes from the veterinarian. This type of dog
food is made with human grade, high-quality ingredients and the
companies that make them have high standards for their manufacture.
These are the top of the line foods, the best you can get, and have
no added salt, sugar, preservatives, or coloring agents
– Homemade dog food is, as its name implies, made by you at home.
There are dog food recipes and mixes available to assist you if
you choose to go this route.
Your budget must be taken into account when choosing what to feed
your dog. If price is no option, by all means choose your dog’s
food on quality alone and buy the best. The old adage that "you
get what you pay for," is often true, and most of the high-priced
dog foods are of high quality. But if you have a limited income,
don’t be discouraged. You can still, by reading labels and doing
your homework, find a decent quality food to feed your dog. Many
people keep their pets quite happy and healthy on a diet of generic
or grocery-store-label dog food.