One of the most common questions veterinarians get from new dog owners is “What kind of food should I feed?” Unfortunately, there is no simply answer that can be given for every dog out there. The right food for you dog is one that is high quality and well balanced. A good food will help maintain a healthy immune system, shiny coat, and normal poop. The choice of food will depend on the dog’s age, size, and underlying health issues. If one simply walks the isles at Pet Club, Pet Smart, or even the grocery store, the choices can be overwhelming.
The first thing to do is to take some time and read the labels. You will want to pick a food that is appropriate for your dog’s stage in life (puppy and large breed puppy for the youngsters, maintenance for the adults, and geriatric for the older ones). Look for a label that says “AAFCO”. This stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which has established guidelines for regulators to govern claims a pet food company can make on its labels. Puppies that are going to be large dogs as adults should be given a large breed puppy food which will slow the rate of bone growth and hopefully decrease the incidence of developmental orthopedic problems in these dogs.
The first item on the ingredient list should be the protein source (beef, chicken, lamb, fish, etc.). Remember ingredients are listed in the order of weight within the product. You want to pick a food that contains ingredients that you can pronounce and easily recognize them as real food. Once you find a food you like, stick with one or two protein sources and be diligent about it. Switching protein sources regularly can make it difficult for your veterinarian to treat certain skin and digestive conditions later in life. If your dog does well on lamb, for instance, then stick with it for the food and training treats. There is also no reason to switch diets regularly. Your dog will be happy to eat the same food every day.
Have a question or a topic you would like to see in the blog? Feel free to send me an email, talk to me at class, or have your trainer forward a message to me.
Mary K. Quinn, DVM
Dogs4Vets Medical Trainer