The kind of dog food you buy can determine the outlook of the health of your dog.
To keep this simple, I will not recommend any brands but I will tell you what to look for.
It is your responsibility to look up the ingredients listed on the package of the dog food you buy.
Here is a list I follow for my dog.
1. Just Remember that Meat Should Always Come first
When choosing dog food, look at the list of ingredients. If a meat (chicken, lamb, fish, beef, and etc.) is listed first, that would be considered a better kind of dog food.
Keep in mind that it would be best to ignore the marketing and pick up every pack of dog food to study the list of ingredients. As mentioned above, look for food that has meat source as the first and second ingredients. The following ingredients should be good enough for your to eat i.e., carrots, peas, apples, sweet potatoes, and etc.
I would not be too concerned about grains being in my food because dogs like humans are omnivores, but if grains cause allergies or digestive problems for my dog, I will avoid them.
Last but not least, if the first ingredient is plant-based (e.g. corn), I would think twice about buying that dog food as corn and other grains are used as fillers. Though some dog foods with a grain listed first can be okay for feeding, I believe that dogs, especially high active dogs need quality animal protein to meet their nutritional demands.
2. Consider the Age, Breed, Health, and the Environment.
If your dog is young, pregnant, or living in cold weather climates, your dog will need extra calories . This also goes for breeds that are highly active.
If your dog is old or of an inactive breed, then you will need to feed your dog a lesser amount as feeding a couch potato dog may increase the chances of becoming obese. Obese dogs have an increase chance of inheriting a number of diseases (diabetes, heart diseases, and etc.) and will die much earlier than thinner healthier dogs.
Simply put, if your dog is a large breed, choose dog food for large breeds. If your dog is a small breed, choose dog food for small breeds. Just never overfeed them!
As an example, for many large dogs, more protein and calcium may be needed but it is imperative that your dog should stay lean and not overweight. Breeds such as German Shepherds and many types of large dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia than smaller breeds. To help counteract hip dysplasia, large dogs should stay lean (or light) and their foods should contain glucosamine and chondroitin.
It is known that a poor diet could be one of many other contributing factors to causing hip dysplasia in large breed dogs.
Cheap Dog Food = Poor Quality?
No. Not all the time. There are some dog foods out there that are relatively cheaper but contain better ingredients than more expensive brands. The best way to determine the quality is to research the brand but I recommend that you seek professional consultation with a veterinarian that specializes in dog diet.
All in all, it is important that you provide the right nutritional needs for the type of dog you have.
Remember that no dog is equal and no dog food is equal.
3. Look for Ingredients that Include Percentages
Though not mandatory, such attention to detail can help reference how much of what ingredient is in my dog food. Look for them as some dog food brands list how much of what is inside of it. In my dog food, my dog food lists 25% of chicken, 25% of chicken meal as the first two ingredients on the list.
4. Know how much food you Should be Giving to your Dog
Believe it or not but dog food brands have different amounts per servings. You maybe giving your dog 3 cups of a dog food brand but the same 3 cups from another brand maybe too much for your dog!
So before you buy a different type of dog food, always read the instructions on the dog food package. I will admit that sometimes, instructions are not enough and that they are more of a reference. In this case I guesstimate how much food I need to give based on my dogs eating behavior.
For example, if my dog is unable to finish her food, that tells me I’m giving too much. If my dog finishes her food but seems a bit hungry, I will not give my dog more… she is always hungry, but I will closely observe her.
If she is getting thin within a month, that tells me that I should add a little more.
Personally, I rather give my dog less than more food in the long run, because I really believe that a thin dog is a healthier dog!
Overfeeding = Slowly Poisoning Your Dog
Giving too much is poisoning to your dog. A healthy dog is a fit dog, not an overweight obese animal.
In regards to being thin, a thin dog is healthier but you need to ensure that he/she at the least gets the right amount of nutrition needed to function properly day to day.
If your dog looks like a balloon or you can’t feel his/her ribs at all, you are feeding your dog way too much. You are slowly poisoning your dog by giving them too much food!
In contrast, if your dog looks bony, in which his/her ribs are exposed so much, you are either not feeding your dog at all or feeding them not enough.
(An exemption to dogs being thing are probably greyhound dogs as they are supposed to look skinnier than most breeds of dogs. However, greyhound dogs are not supposed to look emaciated.)
To maintain a healthy quality of life for your dog, your dog should strive to maintain a healthy weight.
To maintain a healthy weight, you should always MEASURE YOUR DOG’S FOOD because providing the right amount of dog food will benefit the health of your dog immensely.