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How to Choose the Right Dog Food

You are uniquely well-qualified to select the best food for your dog.

No one is in a better position than you are to decide which food you should feed your dog. That may not be what you wanted to hear. You may have been hoping that someone would reveal to you the name of the world’s healthiest food, so you could just buy that and have it done with. 

But dogs, just like people, are individuals. What works for this dog won’t work for that one. A Pointer who goes jogging with his marathon-running owner every day needs a lot more calories than the Golden Retriever who watches TV all day. The diet that contains enough fat to keep that sled dog warm through an Alaskan winter would kill that Miniature Poodle who suffers from pancreatitis. The commercial kibble that stopped my Border Collie’s itching and scratching in its tracks may cause your Bedlington Terrier to develop copper storage disease. 

Every food on the market contains different ingredients, and each one has the potential to cause symptoms of allergy or intolerance in some dogs. Every food contains a different ratio of macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrates – and you have to learn by trial and error which ratio works best for your dog. Each product contains varying amounts of vitamins and minerals, and though most fall within the ranges considered acceptable by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), some may be in excess of, or deficient to your dog’s needs.

So how do you choose? 

When choosing a dog food for your best friend, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. 


1)      SELECTING FOOD – Select a super premium or holistic dog food that is nutrient rich and has human grade ingredients. This means that the dog food is made up of food that is fit for human consumption. Most dog food is not. These dog food brands will include necessary protein, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. They are also made without the toxins and additives that can be harmful to your dog’s health. 

 If you think all dog food is alike then watch this short video from the Center for Veterinary Research about the effects of melamine, used to make plastics, that dog food manufacturers thought a grand idea to add to commercial dog food…and the kidney failure and deadly results that followed. 


Meat should be the first ingredient as this is the primary ingredient in the bag or can. Meat by products, and other nebulously described ingredients, when listed as a primary ingredient should be your cue to pass on this dog food. 

2)      SECONDARY INGREDIENTS should be vegetables and rice. Once again, be wary of any by product, meal or odd sounding term. If you don’t know what it is, it’s probably not something you would want your dog to eat. 

3)       PRESERVATIVES such as BHA, butylated hydroxyanisole and BHT, butylated hydroxytoluene are used some dog food manufacturers including one that is a favorite of many veterinarians. The problem with these preservatives according to some dog nutrition experts is that these chemicals may be carcinogenic. Vitamin E & Vitamin C are natural preservatives and healthier for your dog. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that fights the formation of free radicals and the onset of cancer in dogs.

4)      CHECK THE LABEL for the AAFCO guarantee.  The Association of American Feed Control Officials works to insure uniform standards for dog food nationwide. A bit of a toothless tiger, it is a starting place. 

5)      CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE.  Some manufacturers make these dates hard to read, When in doubt ask the retailer to point out the date to you. 

6)      HOMEMADE FOOD – Consider making your own homemade dog food. This is an increasingly popular way assure a healthy and nutritious diet for your dog. A couple of options for homemade dog food include: The Bones and Raw Food Diet, also known as, BARF and vegetarian dog food diets.  

You can learn more about these diets at http://www.dogs-4life.com/why-homemade-dog-food-may-save-your-dog-s-life.html 

7)       BONES AND RAW FOOD- (BARF) – The advantages of feeding your dog a raw food diet headlining meat and accompanying natural grains and veggies that they would ingest in a hunting, feral environment the way dogs did thousands of years ago is touted by many.  

The debate continues but you can get some more information to help you decide if a primarily raw meat diet is best for your dog at http://dogs-4life.com/is-raw-meat-safe-for-your-dog-.html 

If you have any questions about the quality of your dog food you should consult with a holistic veterinarian. Holistic vets are much more in tune to the benefits of a natural and nutritious diet than many mainstream veterinarians who have had minimal training in this area while in veterinary school. 

This is not a jab at vets.  Anyone who has dedicated their life to healing and saving animals deserves our support. It is simply an observation of which type of vet is the best resource in the all important area of canine nutrition and picking the best food for your dog. 


Rescue Dog Village Guardian, Inc.