There is no single dog food that is best for all dogs, because all dogs are different. Different breeds have different nutritional requirements dictated by their age, their size, their coat, their activity level, and more. A discussion on what is best would have to go into details on the type of dog first, and would then filter down into a list designed specifically for that breed.
However, there are a few steps you can consider when on the lookout for dog food that will help you make a better decision than if you just pick up a bag blindly from the pet store. For example, Australian Cattle Dogs have a high level of physical activity, and need a diet that’s high in protein and whole grains . Royal Canin, dog food fits these requirements, and would therefore be an excellent brand to consider.
What to Look For
1. Choose a healthy ratio of 50% meat, 50% vegetables, grain-free, wheat-free, and no cheap fillers. Check labels on packaging to be sure the ingredients follow this rule and if it is not apparent on the labeling, do your due diligence and dig up details from either the retailer or the manufacturer.
2. Check to see if protein sources are high in the ingredients list. The meat portion of dry dog food is usually listed as meal. About one pound of animal meal is produced from five pounds of animal meat. Check to make sure that the first three to five ingredients are some kind of meal, to ensure your dog is getting the protein it needs. Examples are: chicken meal, lamb meal, and venison meal.
What to Avoid
1. Grains can be cheap fillers. Although they provide long-term energy and energy storage for dogs, they are oftentimes used as cheap fillers to take the place of real protein. Grains that are safe for dogs include whole grains such as rolled oats, barley, quinoa, millet, and brown rice, providing a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They need this as much as we do.
2. Be wary of low cost brands listing protein first, followed by fillers. They will lead you to believe you are feeding your dog quality food, but the one protein ingredient may be followed by several harmful fillers whose ratio supersedes that of the protein.
3. Going veggie may not be best for dogs. Some argue dogs do not need much protein; and while this may be true, making yours go vegetarian may not be wise. Dogs need protein just as much as they need vegetables. Ensuring the ration shared above means your dog will get a healthy balance of what it needs.
4. Look for safe preservatives. They are unavoidable and help keep that bag of food fresh, but avoid preservatives that are chemicals, such as BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. Better preservatives are Vitamins E and C, and will serve your dog better in the long run.
5. When possible, choose premium brand dog foods. Cheaper brands may help your wallet, but you may end up spending more in the long run when your dog’s health starts to decline.
6. Holistic foods are healthier. Look for food that is 100% natural and 100% nutritious. They will abide by higher standards and will be made with human-grade ingredients.
7. Use a healthy human diet as an example. We are all living things. Why would you feed your dog something you would not eat? Too much salt, sugar, or fat is not healthy for humans and it’s not healthy for dogs, either. Follow basic healthy eating habits for your dog and avoid too many table scraps – they can be harmful when given too often.